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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Corned Beef

For my special On Our Grills Four Ingredient Challenge for St Patrick's Day, I decided to get hammered on some Smithwick's and post a load of jibberish. Well, actually here is what I did in the interest of liver preservation...

Instead, I bought this lovely tri-tip and decided to marinate it for a few days.  Why this and not corned beef?  Well, I have been trying for some time to get corned beef dialed in with a lower sodium profile and I just cannot get there.  So, why not make my own marinated beef with a lower salt content. Corned tri-tip here we go.

I also did away with the curing salts, as I believe once I smoke this up, there will be enough color in the meat. I did make up a brine that consisted of a variety of spices to help in the curing of the meat.  The marinade is as follows:
 Test Marinade One:
2 tablespoons Simply Marvelous Sweet and Spicy BBQ Rub
1 tablespoon Simply Marvelous Cherry BBQ Rub
1 teaspoon powdered mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon turbinado sugar
1 bay leaf cracked
1 star anise
1.5 cups water
8 medium ice cubes
1 cup water

Combine all spices and add to simmering water until all spices are dissolved.  Remove from heat and cool with ice cubes. Add remaining water to bring marinade to the proper concentration.  This produces a salty liquid, although it is not quite a brine. It does look a little murky.
From here, the marinade is loaded into the syringe and then injected into the tri-tip, this was to increase the penetration of the marinade into the meat and to aid in curing speed.  There was a lot of injecting.  The meat was placed in a large plastic bag which was sealed and placed in the refrigerator for 48 hours.
 And that is what a tri-tip looks like when brined for 48 hours.  From here, it was on to the kettle, cooking along at 250F with a little more smoke than I had hoped.  I ran out of charcoal, had maybe 10 briquettes and had to do a wood burning smoke, which is a little tougher in the kettle.  Plus side, the smoke flavor was outstanding.  Here is the tri-tip finished with Phase 1, smoked to fork tender.
And chopped into coarse this point, it was all I could do to not just start eating.  It had the texture and flavor of a very mild corned beef, nowhere near the salt of a commercial corned beef.  There was also no pink, as no curing salts were used.
These chunks were returned to a foil packet and a mixture of prepared mustard, cider vinegar, fish sauce, apple juice and honey was added.  This was sealed up and put back on the kettle for 2 hours to braise.  This made the meat so tender, it was hard to cut, but, shredded perfectly for the next step.
This would involve some Trash Bag Taters made famous by No Excuses BBQ, these were red potatoes though, with a coating of olive oil and some Todd's Dirt Herbal rub added to the mix,  These were smoked on the kettle for 1 hour and then added to a pan with some aromatics, slowly browned.
Then the tri-tip was added and allowed to cook into the hash for a few minutes, topped with chopped green onions and then a fried egg.  I decided some grilled brussels sprouts with some olive oil and salt was a good addition to the plate. Here it is without the egg being cracked.
This cook worked out just as I had hoped, with a good strong resemblance to corned beef, minus the salt content, a great texture and a lovely balance of flavors in all elements of the plate.  The egg was gratuitous I suppose.

Here are the links to the other 4-Ingredient Challenge bloggers for this special seasonal challenge.

Larry Gaian of The BBQ Grail - Entry Here
The BBQ Grail website was created in 2007, initially to document the author’s quest to find the perfect backyard BBQ experience. Since that time The BBQ Grail has become one of the more popular BBQ blogs on the internet and is listed on as one of the top BBQ blogs.

Paul Haight of No Excuses BBQ – Entry Here
The No Excuses BBQ website was started in January of 2009 as a way to record the author’s goal of cooking outdoors at least once a week throughout the year and showing the results to the world.  Somewhere along the way things got out of control…


  1. Drinking, spouting jibberish, shooting up a tri-tip, trashbag taters, what's not to like? Great job Bob, and very creative!

  2. apples, GAH! I kept looking at those apples on the counter thinking, why do I have apples?

  3. NICE! Corned Tri-Tip. I've been thinking about that lately and you beat me to you. Great job.

  4. Thanks Larry, I highly recommend it.

  5. Great cook and yes, very nice smoke ring on that tri tip.

  6. Thanks Chris, I need to do more of these.