Corned beef is likely to bring St Patrick’s Day to mind, although corned beef and cabbage is an Irish-American dish, not an Irish one. In Ireland you would have boiled bacon and cabbage instead. Regardless of the fact corned beef is not usually eaten in Ireland on this holiday there is no doubt it makes a tasty meal. Corned beef is beef brisket which has been salted and seasoned for preservation. Very coarse salt was used long ago to make this type of mean which is where the term ‘corned’ comes from. Corn used to refer to coarse salt in the days before American corn (maize) was known in Europe.
Beef was ‘corned’ with the salt, then before preparing it the salt would have to be removed, and that was often done by boiling it with potatoes because they are good at removing salt. Cabbage would then be boiled in the same water, so the beef and salt flavors would add flavor to the cabbage. In the following recipe the corned beef is barbequed, the reason being it adds a lot more taste, and you will be using a dry heat rather than boiling the meat in water and risking it getting mushy. The texture will be more pleasing.
How to Flavor the Meat
Your purchased corned beef is like to have come with its own spice packet, and you can rub this into the meat before barbequing if you want. If you prefer to make your own, consider a little onion powder, thyme, garlic powder, cayenne, and paprika, combined with a good measure each of black pepper, and cracked coriander seeds. The black pepper and coriander seeds should be the main ingredients in your spice mix, since those are especially good with the flavor of the beef and the other ingredients in the rub are backup flavors which complement those.
Four parts of pepper and the same of coriander, along with 1 part of each of those other ingredients would be perfect. Combine your spices and rub the mixture into the beef to get those flavors deep into the meat. Plan this dish in advance because you will need to soak the meat before cooking it, to remove the salt, and 2 hours is the minimum soaking time. It might be longer if you are using a particularly large piece of corned beef. Keep changing the water too, else the meat will just be sitting in saltwater.
Some Side Dishes with an Irish Flair
So what are you going to serve with this barbequed corned beef? If you want to serve something authentic, consider boiling some potatoes and cabbage. Add some of the drippings from the barbeque drip pan to add even more flavor to the dish. If you do not mind some non-traditional side dishes, or you are not looking for St Patrick’s Day recipes in particular, you cannot go wrong serving a creamy homemade potato salad with any kind of beef or steak cooked on the barbeque. Peel and boil some chopped potatoes then drain well and toss with your favorite mayonnaise. Add some salt and pepper, and maybe some chopped green onions too. This would be lovely with the corned beef.
- 4 lbs corned beef (or a larger one if you want)
- Spices and seasonings, to taste
- Soak the corned beef in water for 30 minutes per pound.
- The minimum soaking time is 2 hours.
- Change the water every hour, rinsing the beef off each time you change it.
- Preheat the barbeque to 250 degrees F, which is quite low.
- Use charcoal and hardwoods for the best flavor.
- Rub your favorite spice mix all over the meat.
- Indirectly cook the corned beef with a drip pan underneath it.
- Keep cooking it until it is 165 degrees F in the center.
- The outside will have a golden brown crust by this time.
- If your corned beef is 4 lbs, the cooking time will be around 6 hours.
- A larger piece of corned beef will take longer.
- While it cooks, baste it every half an hour using some of the spice rub mixed with oil, water and vinegar in equal parts.
- Basting helps to keep the corned beef moist and also helps to remove any residual salt from it.
Although boiling corned beef with potatoes and cabbage might be the more authentic way to prepare it, cooking it on the barbeque instead means you can expect not only an appetizing smoky aroma and flavor, but also a nicer texture because you are using a dry heat. This will also ensure the outside of the corned beef gets nice and crisp. Whether you are planning a meal for St Patrick’s day or simply in the mood to try something new on the barbeque, this recipe is really simple and the results are wonderful. If you like the taste of beef, you will love this.
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