Today is the day!! Traditional Corned Beef is getting a much-needed flavor nitrate free makeover!! After you try this Ginger Stout Smoked Corned Beef you will never look at corned beef the same way!
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. Just 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. What is Corned Beef?
The simple answer is, it is a beef brisket (some people use beef round roast) that has been brined and cured for several days. A brine is a water-saturated marinade, a process of soaking the meat in flavor for an extended period, and typically salty. To cure meat… yeah doesn’t sound great right?
But the curing is what gives the corned beef that pink color, to be more specific it is saltpeter. Do you really 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. It is known chemically as potassium nitrate. Common uses for this chemical are fireworks and gunpowder, and if mixed strong enough it is known to dissolve tree stumps. Told you, you may not like what you read.
That is why my corned beef is not pink it is nitrate free. I don’t know about you, but gunpowder is not on my favorite food list.
So, know we got that settled, we know the corned beef will look more like beef and we know the basic process of how it is made. The next thing is how can we tone down the pungent corn beef flavor yet elevate it in all its glory. AKA bring out the good eliminate the bad.
Basic ingredients in a corned beef brine is a picking spice consistent of Mustard, allspice, clove, peppercorns, kosher salt, coriander, ginger, red pepper flakes, bay leaf, and cinnamon. Some add juniper berries, beet juice, sauerkraut liquid, and/or vinegar. Then you take your spices place them in hot water add ice and soak meat.
One thing I have a hard time with when it comes to Corned Beef is it is way too salty and the flavor is just one note. I don’t know about you, but I like my food to sing with every bite.
So, I added depth by toasting the spiced, I decided not use kosher salt but a blend of sea salt, Hickory smoked salt, and a sel marin de guerande grey sea salt. Then I added the water brought it to a boil and to counterbalance the saltiness of the brine I added granulated sugar and brown sugar. I also added a little apple cider vinegar for some acidity.
Then as I was shopping I thought what goes best with corned beef… stout beer, and since I had a 6 pack, which would take me months to drink, I decided hey add it to the brine.
Poured everything into a large bowl of ice placed the brisket in and there wasn’t enough liquid. I didn’t want to add more water. In my mind adding water means diluting the flavor. I had some ginger beer still in the fridge from cocktails I made over the Christmas holiday. I thought ginger spice is in the seasoning blend, what do I have to lose and added it.
Most recipes for corned beef recommend soaking your brisket in the brine for 7-10 days. I only soak mine for 48 hours, I don’t have a huge chef’s fridge, and I need the space, so 7-10 days just 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. Before I throw the Ginger, Stout Smoked Corned Beef on the smoker I like to add a dry rub. I take the same pickling spice blend I brined the brisket in and ground them in my coffee grinder and sprinkle liberally.
The next steps are the easiest, smoke with cherry wood for one hour, remove from smoker, place in slow cooker with another bottle of stout beer and ginger beer, and allow to cook on high for 6 hours.
Yes, this Ginger Stout Smoked Corned Beef will not disappoint, nitrate free, full of bold, well rounded, balanced flavors. Perfect for your Saint Patrick’s Day Celebration.
All that is left is for you to grab yourself a drink, put on some good music, and get cookin’!!
Ginger Stout Smoked Corned Beef
- 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 1/2 tbsp ground ginger
- 4 tbsp pickling spice (see above Recipe)
- 6 cups water
- 1/2 cup sea salt
- 3 tbsp hickory smoked salt
- 3 tbsp sel marin de guerande grey sea salt
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 6 cups ice
- 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 bottle Stout Beer
- 1 bottle ginger beer
- 5 lbs Beef Brisket well marbled
- 3 tbsp pickling spice finely ground
- 1/2 tbsp hickory smoked sea salt
- Cherry smoke chips
- 1 bottle stout beer
- 1 bottle ginger beer
- Take all the picking spice ingredients and place in 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 stir in apple cider vinegar, stout beer, and ginger beer. Submerge the brisket in the liquid, seal, and close the container, and refrigerate for 48 hours.
- Grind up 3 tablespoons 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 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 on a cutting board and allow to rest 10 minutes. When cutting the brisket, cut against the grain for slices, if you want it shredded cut with the grain.