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Grilled Corned Beef and Cabbage Just in Time for St. Patty’s Day

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With St. Patrick’s day just around the corner and the typical fare of corned beef and cabbage on the menu, the Grillin Fools thought we would do these traditional favorites our way.  My father and cousin, Greg – Smokin on the Water, and Tom – the Big Green Eggspert, will have their own twists on these two items soon so check back.  Dad’s is up on the site and can be found here. Here’s what I did to shake up the typical St. Patty’s Day menu…

First off I started with a 3.5 LB premade corned beef from the grocery store that’s been brined already:

Here is the meat and the seasoning packet:

I did not use that seasoning packet at all in this cookout, but in retrospect I probably should have.  If you want a more traditional corned beef done on the grill, you will want to use that.  I will go into it more at the end on how to use this for a more traditional corned beef.

Normally corned beef is boiled with that seasoning packet and the boiling helps to remove the overpowering salt that has infused into the meat from the brine.  Since I’m not boiling it, I have to leach that salt out of the meat or it will only be useful as a salt lick in a cow pasture.  To leach the salt out submerse it in water:

Change the water one time for every pound of meat plus one change of the water.  So for this one I changed it four times, and probably should’ve done it five times.  When you change the water rinse the meat off.  I put it in water Thursday night and had planned to change it Friday morning but forgot before I went to work.  I changed it Friday night, then again Saturday morning and one more time about two hours later on Saturday morning.

I’ve done some research and some say that you can do the water changes every hour and knock it out all in one day.  I didn’t have that kind of time and did not test that.  If you do it every hour, you may want change the water a couple extra times.

After three changes here’s what it looked like:

The water makes the meat look grayer and drabber but that’s not an issue at all.  Now for the fourth time I soaked it in a marinade that also leached off some of the salt.  For the final soak, I marinaded the meat in something I thought was completely appropriate for this cookout – Murphy’s Irish Stout:

I also added a a couple heaping table spoons of minced garlic and some black and white pepper in a ziplock bag:

That went into the fridge for 3 hours.  When I pulled it out I decided to trim some of the fat off the bottom:

I still left a thin layer of fat but the rest was not needed.

Then I made up a rub.

Rub Ingredients:

1/3 cup granulated garlic
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sweet paprika
1 tsp of onion powder
1/2 tsp of mustard powder
Black and white pepper
But you can use whatever rub you prefer

Notice no salt.  None on the meat or in the rub.  You don’t want to add any more salt to the brined beef:

And now it’s off to the grill for indirect grilling/smoking:

On the right we have apricot wood to flavor the meat:

Now before anyone jumps up and says that smoked corned beef is just pastrami, calm down for a sec.  I’m not smoking this thing all the way through.  I just smoked it for an hour and 15 minutes and then foiled it.  So, I made sort of a tweener between corned beef and pastrami.  Also, you may have noticed something a little odd about the beef:

Yes, there are two probes in that hunk of beef.  The reason for this is I got a new probe thermometer with a remote alarm that lets me know when the proper temp is reached.  I wanted to make sure the thermometer is accurate so I tested against my old one that I tested against a couple other regular oven thermometers:

As you can see the temp’s are off between the two.  My new one on the left is three degrees higher than my old stand by.  If the temp is off by a few degrees, that’s not all bad as long as it’s consistent and it was throughout the process.  It was always 2-3 degrees high.

Back to the grill.  Time to close the lid and check the temp:

And make sure I have good smoke:

I let the brisket smoke for about an hour before I went to work on my cabbage which was 3.25 pounds:

The problem with grilling cabbage is that it’s round.  How do you keep it from rolling around?  A foil ring:

Set the cabbage on the ring to keep it in place:

Now slice around the core at about a 30 degree angle and remove the core:

Then a sprinkle of coarse salt, couple turns of black and white pepper and then slather with minced garlic and about a third of a stick of butter:

Then cover it entirely in foil.  The goal here is to cook the cabbage in the foil and soften it up before we smoke it:

Now back out to the grill.  The corned beef has been smoking for one hour and fifteen minutes:

Here we can see the temps and it’s still two degrees apart but the temps are consistent:

Now it’s time to foil and do some steaming.  What to steam the beef in?  How about some Irish Stout.  Half a can was just about right:

What to do with that other half a beer?  Hmmm?  Easy.  Add it, along with another full can, to your favorite mug:

One hour later the cabbage is pretty soft and I decided to open up the foil and smoke the cabbage:

Then eight ounces of shredded mozzarella:

Then about a half cup of fresh grated picarino romano:

Forty five minutes later the corned beef hit my desired internal temp of 180 degrees so I pulled it off the grill and drained out as much of the fluid as I could:

I let that rest for 15 minutes while I let my cabbage to continue to smoke:

Sliced:

And now onto the cabbage that I pulled off the grill after one hour in the foil and one hour in the smoke:

And here we have it sliced:

Notice the arrows?  Time to move on to what I should’ve done differently.   See how the very heart of the cabbage is yellow while the rest is white?  That’s because what was yellow was still fairly al dente.  The recipe I checked to find cooking times had a two pound cabbage cooked for 60-90 minutes.  I went a full two hours but should’ve gone more like 2.5-3 hours.  The flavor was delicious, but it could’ve cooked longer.  And the head felt very soft before I pulled it from the grill, so keep that in mind.   Just because it feels soft, you may want to leave it on the grill for a bit longer.

Also, the critique my wonderful Mother in Law gave for the beef was that it wasn’t a traditional corned beef. She said it tasted more like beer beef.  I loved it but she was right, it didn’t have the traditional flavor.  If you want that then you may want to use the seasoning packet in the marinade or for an even more traditional meal then use the spice packet in the foil with the beer.

And before you give me grief for kissing up to my MiL for calling her wonderful, on top of all the amazing things she does for my wife and son she is also my main guinea pig in terms of trying new things.  If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have perfected the Apple/Pumpkin ribs.

I mentioned earlier that I should’ve changed the water one more time.  The salt was a little heavy for me, but I don’t put much salt on anything but french fries and use it sparingly in my cooking, except of course the dry marinaded steaks.  My MiL didn’t mind the salt at all, so if you are as sensitive to salt as I am then you may want to add an extra water change.

So, that’s my twist on the typical St. Patty’s day meal.  I hope it inspires you to shake things up a little when you sup on March 17th.

If you like this recipe and are looking for more beef recipes on the grill, click here.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or send me an email.

Also, you can follow the Grillin Fools on Facebook and post your own grillin pictures or keep up with us on Twitter@grillinfool (no S).

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  • Leslie Pangilinan

    Wow, I wanna come over and EAT with you :)

  • http://detroiteats.wordpress.com Ed Schenk

    Very interesting process. Did you think about starting with an uncorned brisket?

    • http://www.GrillinFools.com Scott

      Ed,

      I thought about it, but I wanted to keep it simple. After researching the process I felt it was too time consuming to corn it myself. I may try that in the future. Particularly after I do what I can to perfect what I have already done, but decided against it for the first go round. I’m not sure how many people that come to GrillinFools.com would want to see the whole brining process. Some would but the vast majority would likely take the path of least resistance as I did…

      …….Scott

  • Fool’s Pappy

    Hey Ed!

    You may want to check out the beef brisket episodes featured earlier on GrillinFools.com. I’ll have some new twists on that during the upcoming season. Next to baby-back ribs–brisket may be my favorite item from the grill and it’s really soooo easy!

  • KimoSabey

    The way to soak is on the stove, heating and changing the water. After that a pepper and clove covering is best/ with honey mustard then brown sugar in the mix. It makes a great crust and taste more like a regular corned beef without the salt. Serve after a wait of 10 minutes so it can fix.That beer is not as good as a covering above. Beer and salt have a hard time marinating. I marinate overnight so the covering soaks up some of the salt. Put foil wrapped potatoes on grill for an hour to get smoke flavor. Real corn is good to serve with is as well as carrots for color.

  • Boston JP

    I love the recipes and think its great that you tell what does and doesn’t work. I was going to grill a whole cabbage, but now I will either par-boil it first or cut it up into wedges.
    Thanks for the great site. Nothin like smoked meat !
    Boson JP

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