Everything You Need to Make Smoked Corned Beef
Corned Beef. Most people love it, few people hate it, and if you’re like many families, it’s on your dinner table for St. Patrick’s Day. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know to make smoked corned beef.
What is Corned Beef?
According to The Kitchn, Corned beef is made from brisket, a relatively inexpensive cut of beef. The meat goes through a long curing process using large grains of rock salt, or “corns” of salt, and a brine. It’s then slowly cooked, turning a tough cut of beef into one that’s super tender and flavorful.
If you’ve had corned beef before, you know how tasty it is, and you also know it’s fairly salty. The curing process is what adds all that salt to the meat.
How Do You Cure Corned Beef?
If you have the time to cure your own corned beef, check out this step by step Home Cured Corned Beef guide by Susie over at Hey Grill Hey. According to her recipe, curing corned beef takes 5-7 days. The advantage to curing your own corned beef is that you know how long it has cured, and you don’t have to desalinize the meat before cooking. If you buy a corned beef brisket in the store or online you should let it soak in cold water for 4-6 hours to flush the excess salt out of the meat before smoking. I’ve skipped this step, and the end result is a salty nightmare that will have your guests drinking water by the gallons.
Where Can I Buy Corned Beef?
Around St. Patrick’s Day you can find corned beef brisket flats or points on the shelves at most grocery stores. They are usually three to four pounds, which is plenty big for most families. If you’re looking for something bigger, check your local butcher shop, or an online meat retailer like Snake River Farms.
How To Smoke Corned Beef
Before we smoke the corned beef brisket, we’re going to apply a simple rub of black peppercorns, onion powder, garlic powder, cloves, ginger, ground mustard, coriander seeds, and brown sugar. (measurements in the recipe below)
Put all of the rub ingredients in a coffee grinder, and grind them on a fine setting. Once the rub is ready, rub the corned beef brisket with olive oil, and then generously apply the rub.
Set up your smoker to smoke at 225 degrees and place the corned beef brisket directly on the grill grates. I also set up my Thermoworks Smoke at this time so I can monitor the temperature of the brisket remotely. I can’t tell you how nice it is to not have to walk outside to check the temp of the meat mid-cook.
Let the brisket smoke until the internal temp hits 165, and then wrap with butcher paper and return to the smoker. The Smoke has an alarm feature on it that alerts me when the brisket comes up to temp. This is super handy and allows me to get work done around the house, or take a nap stress free… while the brisket is cooking.
Most briskets stall around the 160-165 degrees, but corned beef briskets stall right around 150. Let it push through, don’t panic. At 165 wrap it with butcher paper and continue letting it cook until the internal temperature hits 200 degrees.
When the smoked corned beef brisket hits 200, double wrap it with foil (over the butcher paper), and place the brisket in a high quality cooler to rest. Let the brisket rest for at least an hour before slicing thin against the grain.
What to Serve With Smoked Corned Beef
Corned Beef and Cabbage
The traditional side dish for corned beef is cabbage. I like to include some potatoes and chopped carrots too. Cut a head of cabbage into 8 wedges and place in a 9×12 baking dish. Add 6-8 red potatoes chopped into quarters, and a dozen carrots peeled and chopped into 3″ pieces.
In a small mixing bowl combine 12 ounces of Guinness beer with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of mustard, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, and a tablespoon each of kosher salt and pepper.
Drizzle this sauce over the veggies, and then put in your oven to cook at 400 degrees. Rotate the veggies every 30 minutes until the potatoes are done (about 90 minutes total).
Let’s be honest… I did everything above just so I could make a reuben. Reuben’s are one of my favorite types of sandwiches, and when they are homemade with smoked corned beef brisket, they’re even better.
Start with two pieces of rye bread, and slather both sides of each piece of bread with mayo. Add a slice of swiss cheese to one piece of bread. Add a few chopped pieces of the corned beef, and a little bit of the chopped cabbage, followed by some thousand island dressing, and then another slice of swiss cheese, and the other piece of bread. Place all of that in a hot cast iron skillet and let it cook until the cheese is completely melted. Make sure you wait to flip until the cheese is melted on top, otherwise those fillings could go everywhere! Still have one of those George Foreman grills or a panini press? Use that instead.
What We Learned Making Smoked Corned Beef
In this post, we talked about what corned beef is, How to Cure Corned Beef (thanks Susie), how to smoke corned beef, and what to serve with corned beef. If you make smoked corned beef for St Patrick’s Day this year, be sure to snap a pic and send it my way, or tag me on Instagram @smokedmeatsunday.
Smoked Corned Beef
- 12 lb Brisket whole
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Corned Beef Brisket Rub
- 2 Tbsp Black Peppercorns ground
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1 Tbsp Cloves ground
- 1 Tbsp Ginger ground
- 1 Tbsp Mustard ground
- 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- Trim the brisket – do your best to trim the fat cap down to 1/4″ thickness, and remove as much of the fat as you can on the other side.
- Rub the brisket with olive oil and then generously apply the rub. Use your hands to get the rub into all of the crevices of the brisket
- Smoke the brisket at 225 degrees until it hits 165 internal temperature. A stall will occur around 150 degrees. BE PATIENT.
- When the corned beef hits 165 wrap with butcher paper. Continue cooking the corned beef until the internal temp hits 200.
- At 200 degrees internal temperature double wrap the brisket in foil (over the butcher paper) and place in a high-quality cooler to rest for approximately 60 minutes. Slice thin slices against the grain and serve with cabbage, or in a reuben.