Today is the day! Traditional Corned Beef is getting a much-needed flavor nitrate-free makeover!! After you try this Nitrate-Free Ginger Stout Smoked Corned Beef you will never look at corned beef the same way!
(Original post date Feb. 20, 2018. Links and post updated Jan. 29, 2022)
I have a lot of family and friends that love Saint Patrick’s Day. Every year they indulge in some authentic corned beef and cabbage, while I sit there and cringe. It is not my favorite meal by far. Something about that pink meat. That is why a few years ago I started to experiment, how can I make this dish more desirable? That is when Ginger Stout Smoked Corned Beef came to life.
The first step to transforming a dish is to do a little research. First, we have to find out what makes corned beef?
What is Corned Beef?
Corned beef is a beef brisket (some people use beef round roast) that’s brined and cured for several days.
A brine is a salty water-saturated marinade. It is the process of soaking the meat in flavor for an extended period. Corned beef is also cured.
The curing ingredient is what gives the corned beef that pink color, to be more specific it is saltpeter. Do you want to know what saltpeter is? Okay… you may not like what you are about to read.
Saltpeter is a sodium nitrate plus sodium chloride blend. Some people call it potassium nitrate. You can find potassium nitrate in fireworks and gunpowder. If mixed strong enough it can also dissolve tree stumps. Told you, you may not like what you read.
That is why this corned beef is not pink it is nitrate-free. I don’t know about you, but gunpowder is not on my favorite food list.
How to make Ginger Stout Smoked Corned Beef
- Start with the basic ingredients in a corned beef brine are pickling spice: Mustard allspice clove peppercorns kosher salt coriander ginger red pepper flakes bay leaf cinnamon
- Some add juniper berries, beet juice, sauerkraut liquid, and/or vinegar.
Toast the spiced to add a deeper flavor. I decided not to use kosher salt but a blend of sea salt, hickory smoked salt and grey sea salt.
- Then I added the water to my toasted spices and salts and brought it to a boil.
- Add granulated sugar and brown sugar to help balance out the saltiness of the liquid.
- Add to the brine is a little apple cider vinegar for some acidity.
- To elevate the flavor of the corned beef I add stout beer and ginger beer.
- Pour everything into a large bowl of ice and place the brisket in.
Most recipes for corned beef recommend soaking your brisket in the brine for 7-10 days. I soak mine for 48 hours. I don’t have a huge chef’s fridge, and I need the space, so 7-10 days isn’t practical for me and many other home cooks.
- When the 48 hours are up, remove the Ginger Stout Smoked Corned Beef from the brine, do not rinse.
- Rub the brined corned beef down with a dry rub that has the same ingredients as your pickling spice (mustard, allspice, clove, peppercorns, kosher salt, coriander, ginger, red pepper flakes, bay leaf, and cinnamon).
- Grind them in my coffee grinder and sprinkle and rub on the corned beef.
- Place the brined and dry-rubbed corned beef in a smoker with cherry wood for one hour.
- Remove from smoker.
- Place the corned beef in a slow cooker with another bottle of stout beer and ginger beer.
- Allow corned beef to cook on high for 6 hours on low.
Nitrate-free Ginger Stout Smoked Corned Beef will not disappoint. Perfect for your Saint Patrick’s Day Celebration.
Serve with Sautéed onion mustard cabbage and melt in your mouth butter carrots and potato wedges
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FAQ and Tips
Common Questions that get asked about the recipe, and tips to save you time and money.
- Does it matter what flavor of smoke chips I use?
Absolutely NOT! Use whatever smoke chips you have on hand, just know the flavor will change depending on the smoke flavor.
- Can I put the potatoes, cabbage and potatoes in the slow cooker with the smoked corned beef?
You can if that makes your life easier. I perfer it separate because the brine will make everything salty.
- Can I freeze the leftovers?
Yes, it freezes nicely. Keeps in the freezer for 4-6 months.
Recipe for Nitrate-free Ginger Stout Smoked Corned Beef
Nitrate-Free Ginger Stout Smoked Corned Beef
- 1 Slow Cooker
- 1 Smoker
- 1 large bowl
- 3 tbsp multi color peppercorn
- 3 tbsp mustard seed crushed
- 2 tbsp coriander seed crushed
- 2 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp allspice berries crushed
- 2 whole cinnamon sticks crushed
- 3 whole bay leaves crumbled
- 1 tbsp whole cloves crushed
- 1 ½ tbsp ground ginger
- 4 tbsp pickling spice (see above Recipe)
- 6 cups water
- ½ cup sea salt
- 3 tbsp hickory smoked salt
- 3 tbsp sel marin de guerande grey sea salt
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 6 cups ice
- ⅛ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 bottle Stout Beer
- 1 bottle ginger beer
- 5 lbs Beef Brisket well marbled
- 3 tbsp pickling spice finely ground
- ½ tbsp hickory smoked sea salt
- Cherry smoke chips
- 1 bottle stout beer
- 1 bottle ginger beer
- Take all the picking spice ingredients and place them in a spice grinder. Grind until everything is crushed and well combined
For the Brine
- In a large saucepan toast 4 tablespoons pickling spice for 2 minutes. Add water to the saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling has started reduce heat to a simmer add the salt and the sugar and stir until it is completely dissolved approximately 10-12 minutes.
- Once completely dissolved remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
- Place ice in a large airtight container that can hold the brisket and brine. Pour contents from the saucepan over the ice and stir in apple cider vinegar, stout beer, and ginger beer. Submerge the brisket in the liquid, seal, close the container, and refrigerate for 48 hours.
- Grind up 3 tablespoons of pickling spice and mix it with the smoked sea salt.
- Prep smoker with cherry wood chips
- Remove brisket from the brine, do not rinse, sprinkle with ground pickling spice and salt mix.
- When the smoker is ready, place brisket in and allow to smoke for 1 hour.
- Once brisket has been smoked for one hour, place it in a crock-pot, slow cooker with a bottle of stout beer and a bottle of ginger beer, and allow to cook on low for 6 hours.
- When 6 hours are up, remove the brisket from the liquid, set it on a cutting board, and allow to rest for 10 minutes. When cutting the brisket, cut against the grain for slices, if you want it shredded cut with the grain.
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