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Can you smoke a corned beef?

I had the genius idea to make corned beef and cabbage for the first time ever while at the grocery store. Unfortunately, when I got home my husband told me the smell of cooking corned beef makes him nauseous. Soooooo I am toying with the idea of trying to smoke it outside next weekend instead. It is a 4 pound cured brisket. Am I crazy?

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  1. You are NOT crazy. I've done it, and it turns out beautifully. I actually rubbed mine with cracked pepper and coriander seed and called it pastrami, but whatever you call it, it's delicious. You might want to soak some of the salt out before smoking, though.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Wahooty

      Wahooty-- how long did you smoke it? I would love to try this as I bought a smoker and hubby loves corned beef but not cooked in water.

      1. re: dimsumgirl

        I hate smelling it too, which is why I cook it in the oven, braised in Guinness!

        1. re: dimsumgirl

          No idea, honestly. I do my smoking on a kettle grill, and just fiddle with it trying to keep the fire going but the temperature low until the meat thermometer says it's done. Sometimes that means finishing the cooking in the oven...it's not the most reproducible method, but it's fun. :)

        2. Just bought a couple of lbs from our local BBQ place. He did it very subtly though.

          1. Njchicaa, this may be too late for the "wearing of the green", but here is a link to a discussion, I had with fourunder, about my different experiments with making smoked/barbecued corned beef: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/838041

            The pertinent subthread starts about halfway down and goes on for quite a bit. There's also some more when I came back some time later. Hope it it helps.

            5 Replies
            1. re: MGZ

              Thanks. I am planning to do it either tomorrow or Sunday so it isn't too late.

              1. re: MGZ

                MGZ and scoobadoo97,

                Have either of you uses Woodburner's approach?


                1. re: fourunder

                  Short answer: "Yes and No"

                  It's fundamentally the same technique we discussed the past couple years in the thread I linked above. It seems I have needed longer cooking times, which is most likely borne out of not maintaining the temperature of the chamber (or a faulty thermometer). I have not, however, tried woodburner's "pastrami rub" having opted to try more barbecue-y flavors.

                  1. re: fourunder

                    Woodburner advocates a straight smoke at 250f to an internal of 185-190.

                    I've done that but finish higher at 200-205

                    I still advise a steam finish which I think keeps it moist

                    1. re: scubadoo97

                      Spoken by a truly good and experienced grill man.

                2. This is the Weber Smokey Mountain recipe, but I've done it on a Weber Kettle using the charcoal snake method (stack two rows of briquettes around the perimiter of the grill, pile two more rows, and pile lit ones on the end of the "fuse." Lumps of wood on top of the snake.


                  1. I smoked some a couple weeks ago. Delicious.

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: scubadoo97

                      Drool. Could you elaborate on everything please? Rub, temp, time. I WANT this, scoobie. Thanks.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        The first pic is a brisket I brined for 10 days using Rhulman's corned beef recipe. The second one was a Mosy brand prepared corned beef from Costco. Made a pastrami rub of ground coriander, mustard seeds, black pepper and salt. Used yellow mustard as the glue. The meat was coated for a day after a day of purging and a day of drying in the fridge.

                        Smoked at 225-250 over pecan wood until it hit 180 then steamed in the oven until it was 205 internal

                        1. re: scubadoo97

                          Thanks. With the Costco one, did you rinse off and toss the included seasonings? I've FINALLY found a source for brisket out here on the Left Coast. It's been a challenge.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            Soaked in water for a day. Didn't need the spice packet. The Mosy brand had a little over 1000 mg of salt per 4 oz. some of the ones I picked up yesterday had 450-500 mg and I usually soak those 8'hrs or so. Over night

                            1. re: scubadoo97

                              Good advice; I appreciate it. Can't imagine not having a smoker now that we have one :)

                              1. re: c oliver

                                Steaming apparatus. Boiling water in the pan and in the oven at 250

                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                  Not quite getting these pix re asparagus.

                                  1. re: scubadoo97

                                    that looks totally insane. I have access to a similar smoker....

                        2. Have 2 points in the smoker at the moment. Murphy brand on sale for $1.97 a pound. Gave them a thorough rinse and two soakings in water, tossed their spice packet, and gave them a rub of fresh ground pepper, coriander and Szechuan peppercorns. They are getting 2 hours of alder and hickory smoke and will be brought up to 160 in the smoker before being steamed to 195... Wish I could hurry the process up!

                          7 Replies
                            1. re: c oliver

                              big pot with a lid and a rack to keep them out of the water.

                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                  Scuba, you are too modest. Your smoked pastrami a week ago Sunday is still resonating in my cranium!

                                  1. re: Veggo

                                    Just snacking on some of the cheeses you left behind while making dinner tonight.

                                    The pastrami is a favorite of mine. I love making it. It's so darn easy and so tasty. Glad you and Stefan enjoyed it

                                  2. re: scubadoo97

                                    An asparagus steamer might work for beef sticks, but a tamale steamer or my pressure cooker with the inserts to hold the points out of the water work great... Most Mexican markets sell some big inexpensive steamer pots that will fill the bill.

                                    1. re: NVJims

                                      I was teasing c oliver but you are correct

                              1. I soaked it overnight in water, let it air dry in the fridge this morning, and coated it with yellow mustard, ground coriander, mustard seeds, kosher salt, and ground black pepper. We shall see how it turns out tomorrow!

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: Njchicaa


                                  How did this work out for you? I want to try the same and could use some pointers on how long to pre-soak.


                                  1. re: ChristinaMason

                                    I am way late in responding but it was just okay. I thought that the meat was still too salty for my taste and I don't mind salt. I don't think we would make it again.

                                    1. re: Njchicaa

                                      Just soak longer until a fry test yields a product you don't think is too salty

                                      1. re: scubadoo97

                                        I can't help but wonder how much the brand of corned beef used impacts on end product salinity.

                                        1. re: MGZ

                                          I've seen sodium levels of 400 mg/ 4oz to 1400+ mg/ 4oz. I advise people to look at labels before purchasing and soak accordingly

                                          1. re: scubadoo97

                                            Yeah. I'd say that's an Ole Miss home against Alcorn State sized spread.

                                      2. re: Njchicaa

                                        Njchicaa, I believe MGZ is right, the brand of corned beef you use can make a big difference as far as salinity.

                                        You said you soaked it overnight (presumably in plain water), but ironically, that may have actually been either too long or too brief. Most people start talking about osmosis at this point, but a chemistry friend of mine reminds me that its actually diffusion, osmosis only occurs when the salt migrates in and out of a membrane. She's also explained to me that salt migrates through the meat very, very slowly, so it partially depends on how the corned beef was processed, if the processor originally soaked the meat in a salt water brine for days, the salt would have had time to penetrate to the interior, whereas if it was a quicker brine time, salt would have largely concentrated in the surface layers of the meat.

                                        If I were to soak in plain water to remove excess salt, it might be worth trying it for a few hours, cutting off a small piece, cooking and tasting, to see what the saltiness at the surface is, where it would be greatest (at that point, diffusion would have pulled some salt out of the meat, but there wouldn't have been time for it to equalize) or conversely, to soak for several days, changing the water every 12 hours, to attempt to remove salt from the meat interior (or perhaps it might be more accurate to say to remove salt from the exterior layers, and the salt in the interior to replace some of the salt that used to be in the exterior layers).

                                        1. re: ePressureCooker

                                          Yes do a fry test to taste the meat before cooking further

                                          I do water changes when soaking. Hey, the salts is moving into the water and that's a good reason to toss it before it returns to the meat

                                  2. Usually I make pastrami every year or so from scratch. Corning the beef with cure and spices first. Then the spice rub and smoking.

                                    Today I'm making "Quick" pastrami. The past few days there was a sale on thick, 5 lb., flat, corned beef briskets at the local A&P. Normally $5.99 lb. (Crazy price) on sale for $1.99, with $2 off coupons as well. So I got 10! five pounders for apx. $8 each.

                                    I soaked two in several changes of water for 36 hours. The rest I froze as is, in the package. They keep forever and defrost just fine.

                                    Then dried them and coated them heavily in a fresh ground black pepper/coriander seed mix, plus a bit of assorted herbs like sage, rosemary, thyme, bay, etc.

                                    I then vacuum packed them and let them sit dry marinating in the fridge for 48 hours.

                                    I then pulled them out and let them air dry for several hours, and to come up to room temp.

                                    I also put in a tray of partially smoked kosher salt. (Light.) And a tray of almost fully smoked sugar. (Dark) Since I hate to run the smoker without it being fully utilized.

                                    I just put them in the smoker for 4 hours of hickory, and 1 hour of apple wood smoke. The smoker cabinet temp. is at 160F, with the controller set to get an IT of 150F and hold it until the smoke is done and it gets to temp.

                                    Then I'll pull them and oven steam one and vacuum pack the other and freeze.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: JMF

                                      I can't believe you just posted this! I came on here looking for a tip or two on smoking a brisket like a pastrami! Thanks for the good advice!

                                    2. Wahooty is more on than they apparently realize, if you take a corned beef put a pepper and spice crust on it and smoke it, you can not only CALL it pastrami, it IS pastrami. That's the only difference between the two.

                                      I actually pressure cook (pre-cook) the corned beef in my pressure cooker, then put a crust on it, then finish in the oven, but now that I've got a pressure smoker, I'm going to have to do it in there instead.

                                      1. Yes you can smoke corned beef. As a matter of fact I will never cook it in the house again. Very simple. Cherry wood,frenches hot mustard,a little garlic powder. Cook to internal temp of 155. Pull out and triple wrap in foil. Throw it back in and cook to internal temp of 170. Take out and let set in wrap for 10 min. Open the foil and enjoy the aroma and cot against the grain of the meat. I have smoked over 25 corned beefs. Well this is the way myself and family likes it.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Chief13

                                          Hey Chief, welcome to Chowhound - and thanks for adding to this conversation. There are a couple of ancillary questions we've considered over the years, your answers to which might help provide insight for future 'hounds looking to try this dish. First, do you soak, repeatedly soak, or simply rinse your briskets prior to smoking to reduce salinity? Second, do you apply any sort of seasoning or rub prior to the cook?

                                          Personally, I'm still ok with just a thorough rinsing. Earlier this summer, I experimented with side by side points, one soaked for an hour, and one rinsed for several minutes. It seemed the rinsed meat was preferred by the "tasters", but, in fairness, it was also the fattier slab.

                                          As to seasoning, I have come to believe that ground chiles, black pepper, and turbinado sugar comprise the ideal rub, but there are certainly fans of a more "pastrami-like" application. I'm a fan of the bark, is probably why. That's also the main reason I almost never employ the crutch, that and the fact that it somehow feels like cheating (kinda like spending too much time on Facebook with an old college sweetheart - technically not a rule violation, but something about it just does't seem right).

                                          Oh, and then there's mop sauces . . . .