Joan Nathan's Pickled Tongue or Brisket Recipe

Closed up of sliced brisket on wooden cutting board
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  • 2 hrs 10 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 2 hrs
  • Yield: 1 Tongue (serves 8-10)
Ratings (4)

This recipe for pickled tongue or brisket is from Joan Nathan's "Jewish Cooking in America: Expanded Edition" (Alfred A. Knopf Inc., 1998). The pickling is done first and then the meat is cooked (some recipes call for the opposite to be done). Remember to slice the meat thinly and serve with mustard or horseradish. The saltpeter called for in this recipe is actually potassium nitrate and is optional. Saltpeter has long been used in curing foods.

What You'll Need

  • 4 pounds beef tongue (or beef brisket)
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt (large-grained)
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 2 ​bay leaves (crumbled)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon saltpeter
  • 1/2 cup warm water

How to Make It

  1. Wash and remove most of the fat from the tongue or brisket. Mix together all the spices and garlic, and rub well into the meat. Place meat in a large, nonmetal container that will fit in your refrigerator.
  2. Dissolve saltpeter in warm water and pour over meat. Weight meat down with a clean stone or brick and cover with plastic wrap. Alternatively, place ingredients in a plastic zip-top bag and weight that down. Either way, refrigerate 10 to 14 days, turning every two to three days.
  1. Place meat in a large pot of cold water. Bring to a boil and discard the water. Repeat three more times. Cover with cold water again, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about two hours or until tender. Peel the skin off the tongue while it is still warm. Cool meat, slice thinly, place on platter and serve as is with mustard or horseradish or as a sandwich.

Source: Joan Nathan's "Jewish Cooking in America: Expanded Edition" (Alfred A. Knopf Inc., 1998), used with permission.