Saint Patrick’s Day is another holiday where food traditions live large, and indulgence is a norm. While I’m not Irish, my wife is, so Corned Beef and Cabbage is a family staple this time of year for her. Her mom makes an incredible boiled version, which we enjoy annually. But as grilling and smoking has become more of a staple in our home, we’ve figured out some creative ways to blend an amazing traditional corned beef with a smoked beef result that we love.
In this cook, I used a half cut round, a different cut than you would normally find in the grocery store. This cut came pre-brined/corned just like you’d find with a corned brisket from the grocery store. The benefit of cooking a half cut round is that it’s a heftier piece of meat, and therefore won’t dry out when you cook it like I do in this recipe. Generally, corned beefs are boiled, which ensures tender texture throughout. By smoking and steaming, you could potentially get a dried out final product. Not with this technique, though!
I seasoned it heavily with my Spiceology Garlic Junky rub, which imparts a great flavor. After it was seasoned it well on all sides and then put it in my preheated smoker at 225* for 2-3 hours. I didn’t check the temperature of the roast at this point, because I knew it wasn’t done at this point, and I was just trying to impart smoke flavor.
A TRADITIONAL IRISH-AMERICAN HOLIDAY DISH
This time of year, the classic dish of corned beef is starting to be on people’s minds– as it’s delicious and memorable, even if we only eat it once per year. My wife’s family is Irish and her mom makes an amazing boiled corned beef– they add a touch of whiskey to the pot and I think that really makes the meat tender and delicious.
Of course, as someone who likes to try to cook everything on the Traeger, all the time, I have taken on the challenge several times of trying to make my own riff on corned beef. You’d expect nothing less than for me to do it on the Traeger, right? I have tried several different versions, and there’s a really good version in my cookbook.
There are also a smattering of recipes on the internet for corned beef cooked on a grill, and one of my variations is below. Give this recipe for smoked corned beef on the Traeger a try and let me know what you think!
WHAT IS CORNED BEEF?
Corned beef is usually a brisket point or flat that has been brined in a salty mixture of spices. This time of year, you can find them frequently in the grocery store meat department, in cryovac packages. The piece of meat (usually about the size of a notebook) is in a goopy mixture of seasonings and spices and ready to be cooked. I find that these pre-prepped meat options are pretty salty when cooking it yourself at home on the smoker, so definitely rinse it well before grilling.
Alternately, you can make your own brine and use a brisket point or flat. Check out Serious Eats for more info about corned beef. I often get my corned beef sourced from Snake River Farms and they sometimes have an eye of round as their corned beef option instead of brisket. It also comes out delicious and I highly recommend you give it a try!
WHAT’S IN THE BRINE?
Corned beef brine is usually a salty mixture with a lot of seasonings mixed in. I mean a lot– you should see the spices and herbs in the package when you pick it up from the store, and they should offer some extra seasoning to use later as well.
If making it at home, I’d recommend a blend of the following herbs and spices:
- Black pepper (whole peppercorns)
- Mustard seed
- Coriander seed
- Bay leaf
- Fennel seed
- Red pepper flakes
- Ground ginger
- Garlic powder
Combine all these ingredients into a well-balanced blend and use this for your corned beef smoked on the Traeger. Whether or not you choose to boil the beef for smoke and braise it, these are important flavors in a great corned beef!
CORNED BEEF OR PASTRAMI?
I have to be honest… the way that I prepare my corned beef might actually be considered pastrami. Because when you google corned beef vs pastrami, you get a fairly clear answer:
Corned beef is boiled and pastrami is smoked and steamed.
So maybe really I do something in between. Corned pastrami?
My technique is to smoke the meat for a while to get some of that good wood fired flavor. Then it goes into a bath of water, beer, broth and seasonings and cooks/boils/braises until tender. So somewhere in between the two categories, and you get an amazing finished product.
- 3-5 pound corned beef flat in brine (from the grocery store)
- beef rub of your choice – I use my Garlic Junkie from Spiceology
- 4c chicken broth
- 2c pilsner
- 2c small potatoes, quartered
- 2 large carrots chopped into 1 inch pieces
- 1/2 small head of cabbage cut into 3 inch pieces
- Start smoker grill at 225°.
- Remove brisket flat from brine.
- Rinse 2-3 times thoroughly, to reduce the salt on the meat.
- Pat dry with paper towels.
- Season sparingly on all sides with your preferred beef rub.
- Place meat in smoker, fat cap down and smoke for 2 hours.
- Move meat to aluminum pan. Sprinkle with reserved spice packet. Add chicken broth and beer until meat is nearly submerged. Dot with a few tabs of butter, reserving half.
- Increase smoker temperature to 325°.
- Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil and return to smoker.
- Cook, covered about two hours more.
- When meat reaches 170° internal, add potatoes and carrots, dot with remaining butter, cover and return to smoker.
- When meat reaches 185° add the cabbage pieces, cover and continue cooking 10-15 more minutes until probe tender and cabbage is soft.
- Transfer vegetables to a platter.
- Slice brisket against the grain and serve!
Make Smoked Corned Beef on the Traeger Tonight!
St Patrick’s day is in mid-March. Now is the time to get a corned beef ready for your family– pick one up from the store or order from SRF so that you’re ready. Be sure to serve it with boiled potatoes, cabbage and carrots, and a good dollop of grainy mustard.
Not sure what to do with the leftovers? I recommend making reuben tacos– like featured here on my blog!
Smoked Corned Beef
- 1 corned beef brisket or round halfcut about 4-8#
- 1/2 cup Garlic Junky Seasoning from Spiceology
- 1/2 cup whiskey
- 2-3 cups beef broth
- 2 cups carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 yellow onion, cut into 1/2 inch slices
- Preheat grill to 225°
- Remove corned beef and reserve pickling spice packet.
- Pat the brisket dry with a paper towel and then season it liberally with the Garlic Junky seasoning. Allow it to sit for about 15 minutes as the grill heats up.
- Place the seasoned meat on the grill and smoke for 2-3 hours.
- In a grill-proof pan, combine carrots, onions, whiskey, reserved pickling spice and beef broth.
- Place the smoked meat on top of the veggie/broth mixture.
- Cover it tightly with two layers of aluminum foil.
- Return the pan to the grill at 275° and continue cooking for 2-3 hours, checking the internal temperature of the meat after 2 hours.
- When the internal temperature reaches 200°, remove the meat from the grill and pan and tent lightly to rest for about 45 minutes.
- Slice the meat and serve with boiled potatoes, carrots and cabbage. Or slice thinly and serve on sandwiches!