Smoked corned beef takes the popular brisket flat to a new level. Prepared with pickled spices and cooked over coals before being served in a sandwich with cabbage, this is one of the best ways to enjoy corned beef. Find out how to perfectly cook this legendary sandwich meat with our barbecue smoker recipe.
Corned beef is a popular dish that most Americans eat on St. Patrick’s Day, but many people don’t know how to smoke grilled corned beef. It can be intimidating to make this dish at home, but we’re here to help you get started!
This blog post will provide you with all the information YOU need to successfully prepare smoked corned beef, including tips for beginners and an easy-to-follow recipe that includes brisket flat preparation instructions and smoking instructions. Below are many other recipes showing different ways to enjoy smoked corned beef. Besides, are you waiting? Let’s start!
What is corned beef?
A favorite of Irish people on St. Patrick’s Day, corned beef is salt-cured beef. They salt the beef with coarse salt called “grains.” Most recipes also call for you to add some spices and sugar to the recipe.
It became popular in England during the Industrial Revolution for its long shelf life and easy packaging. However, these classic cans of beef made no distinction as to which part of the cow to use and were typically of inferior quality.
The salt curing process sets it apart from regular beef brisket. Typical brisket is cooked for a long time over low heat to tenderize it. Corned beef becomes tender primarily through the curing process. It has a salty and rich taste.
Corned Beef vs. Pastrami
The main difference between corned beef and pastrami has to do with the part of the cow. Corned beef comes almost exclusively from the brisket (lower breast), while pastrami can be made from the deckle (wide shoulder cut) or the navel (soft area under the ribs).
They also vary in origin, with pastrami coming from Romania or Turkey and corned beef from Ireland. Chefs use different spices for each recipe, and you typically smoke pastrami while typically cooking corned beef. However, corned beef can be smoked as you will see in the recipe below.
They are both cured with brine in the same way. They are either rubbed with salt or soaked in a mixture of salt, spices and water.
All of the ingredients for corned beef are in its brine or rub. Whether you soak the spices in a little water or rub them dry is up to you. Here is a list of the most common herbs used in a corned beef recipe.
- Mustard seeds
- Bay leaves
- Turn over the pepper flakes
For all of these ingredients, toasting them in a cast-iron skillet over low heat for 2-3 minutes will help. YOU don’t want to cook the spices, but let them smell and awaken their aromas. In the last 30 seconds you can add the bay leaves and red pepper flakes.
Then you simply put all the spices in a spice grinder and spin them through. Once you’ve ground them together, you should store them in an airtight container to preserve their flavor and freshness.
There are some optional seasonings YOU can add to a corned beef seasoning. Cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and allspice can add some extra flavor to the recipe. Just add a small amount of this to your spice blend.
Time & temperature
The ideal temperature for smoking corned beef is 250℉. Once you’ve preheated your smoker, you can smoke the meat for about three to four hours. To make sure it’s done, measure the internal temperature of the breast. When finished, 200℉ will be displayed. This can take up to 8 hours.
Larger cuts of meat may take longer to smoke. Some smokers use the 3-2-1 method. Here you smoke the meat open for the first three hours and then wrap it in aluminum foil for two hours to better cook the inside of the meat. In the last hour, remove the aluminum and let the meat cook uncovered again.
It is not necessary to trim the fat on a breast. It is melted during the cooking process and adds flavor. If you want a leaner corned beef, try the flat chest instead of the top.
Most people make corn beef with wet brine. To prepare the brine, simply add your spice mix to some water and bring it to a boil so the flavors combine well. Then place your brisket in a pan with brine. It must not be completely submerged. The water level should rise 1 or 2 inches on top of the cut of meat.
To properly salt the meat, you need to leave it that way for a minimum of five and a maximum of ten days. Before preparing the corned beef, you can add another dry seasoning mix during the cooking process for extra flavor.
What wood is best for smoking corned beef?
Cherry, mesquite, and hickory are great wood options for smoking beef. They bring out the rich flavors and tenderness well. However, you can quickly use any wood as long as it is of high quality. Poor quality chips will ruin the taste.
What to serve with
The most obvious answer is cabbage. The two have been paired together on St. Patrick’s Day for centuries. You can cook the cabbage in a traditional way with some spices.
Another excellent way to enjoy this smoked meat is as part of a corned beef hash for breakfast. Add to a skillet with hash browns, onions, and eggs before heating on the grill for just 15 minutes. It’s as simple as it is delicious.
Potatoes are also a great side dish. They are easy to prepare and taste great off the grill. Try a Potato Gratin for a complex potato recipe.
Glazed carrots and blanched green beans are healthy side dishes with smoked corned beef. The sweetness of the carrots pairs well with the beef, and the green beans have a complementary texture.
How to smoke corned beef
After you’ve seasoned and marinated your beef, you’re ready to smoke it.
Place your corned beef brisket naked in the smoker. At this point, nothing should be above or below it except for the griddle. The internal temperature of the smoke should show 250℉. Once the chest is in you, start adding wood chips to create smoke.
After the meat has been cooked for three or four hours, measure the internal temperature. When 165℉ is displayed, you can proceed to the next step. If not, let it smoke a little longer.
Once the meat has reached 165℉, you can remove it from the smoker and place it in a large aluminum foil pan. Fill the pan around the breast with water and beef broth. This keeps the meat moist. Then cover the pan and put it back in the smoker.
Smoke the meat for another 3 or 4 hours until it reaches an internal temperature of 200℉. Then remove it from the smoker and let it sit in the pan for about 30 to 45 minutes before serving.