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HankB 03-18-2013 09:20 AM

My corned beef fail - no pron :(
Normally I like to show off my successes but today is not that day. In the spirit of St. Patrick's Day I planned a meal of corned beef and cabbage. Because I'm more fond of smoked meats than boiled meats, I decided to smoke a corned beef brisket. Because I thought boiled carrots, cabbage and potatoes would be a little on the plain side, I decided to boil a corned beef brisket. I bought two corned beef brisket flats from Sam's that were between 3 1/2 and 4 pounds.

First the smoked brisket. I followed thirdeye's directions (http://playingwithfireandsmoke.blogs...-pastrami.html) and using cooking method #1. With a desired serving time of 5:00 - 6:00 PM,found here I looked at previous brisket cooks and decided to start the smoke at 11:00. At 6:00 PM the meat had reached 172F but was far from tender. Unfortunately we were time constrained (to not disrupt our grandson's schedule too much) so I pulled it and rested it while I sliced the boiled corned beef. The seasoning on the smoked brisket was a little peppery but otherwise good. (And I say peppery because we were serving it to our 1 1/2 year old grandson who is probably more sensitive to highly spiced dishes. It was fine for me.)

The boiled corned beef was troubled on several accounts. I wanted to try a slow cooker method for this but wanting to avoid overcooked veggies, I started the brisket by itself on the crock pot set to low and using the spice mix recommended by Alton Brown at Expecting it to finish in 9 hours, I put it on at 8:20. (Plan was for 8:00 AM but sometimes I'm moving a little slow on Sunday morning. :wink: ) At 3:20 I added the remaining vegetables except for cabbage. At that point I had to remove some of the liquid to fit everything in the crock pot. I also switched the crock pot to high. At 4:45 I decided to switch to the stove top to finish the boiled corned beef. I put the cabbage in the bottom of a large pot and put the contents of the crock pot plus the liquid I had removed and enough water to cover and cranked the heat up to bring it to a boil. Once boiling, I reduced the heat to simmer. At 5:30 the meat probed pretty firm and had reached 176F internal temp. At 6:00 I removed and sliced it. It had not tenderized much more at that point. Mistakes made at this point include (1) not enough time (2) too much food for a slow cooker (3) cooked the cabbage too long and (3) cooked way too much cabbage. In addition, lots of pepper lodged in the folds of the cabbage making it excessively peppery.

The meal was not a total disaster in that we could eat the corned beef, but it could have been a lot better. Next time I need to allow a lot more time to make sure the meat finishes before time to serve. I did get the meat to the desired IT, but for these particular briskets that was not good enough. Next time I boil corned beef and cabbage, I'm not adding the cabbage until the corned beef is done! The extra fifteen minutes for the corned beef is not going to make a difference whereas an extra hour for the cabbage is going to result in pretty limp cabbage.

On the bright side, everything tasted good and our grandson scarfed down plenty of the corned beef (but not so much of the cabbage.)

HeSmellsLikeSmoke 03-18-2013 09:27 AM

Dang! Sorry to hear but there were several good lessons learned at least.

The pastrami can easily be steamed or pressure cooked to tender even now. 170 is a good time to start to steam one.

93vpmod 03-18-2013 09:50 AM

Don't feel so bad, I had the same results with my pastrami.

Like you, I started at 11:00 thinking I would have plenty of time as the inlaws were expected around 5:30 or so. The four pound brisket got to 168* internal temperature, but I have shoes that are more tender.

Wish I had read just a little more and understood the steaming/pressure cooking option. I will save that for the next go around with corned beef as I will look for the sales this week!

I was lucky to have put two racks of babybacks and a chicken on as well. The chicken turned out to be the best I have had in years, go figure.

landarc 03-18-2013 10:11 AM

No pics it didn't happen :mrgreen: no fail to see here

HankB 03-18-2013 10:53 AM


Originally Posted by landarc (Post 2412269)
No pics it didn't happen :mrgreen: no fail to see here

<long drawn out sigh>

BigBellyBBQ 03-18-2013 11:21 AM

my corned briskets were a little larger...18.6 to 20. pounds..put on at 2 am at 225* on 7 hickory logs burning..
foiled with beer (one for me, 1/2 per brisket) at 11 am int temp was 170* bumped temp up to 250 as need for 2 1 pm internal was 197 to 202..pulled lots of clean up from the juice running out of the meat.. at 2...many happy people at 230

Wampus 03-18-2013 11:40 AM

Too bad it worked out that way, but as said.....make a mental note (or written note), and do better next time.

We've all had meals like that that didn't turn out how we wanted.

landarc 03-18-2013 11:52 AM

No, no, you're not supposed to post pics when I said that. You're supposed to say 'yes, it didn't happen'

HankB 03-18-2013 03:22 PM


Originally Posted by Wampus (Post 2412367)
Too bad it worked out that way, but as said.....make a mental note (or written note), and do better next time.

I record all. I shared here to hopefully keep a brother from making the same mistakes.


Originally Posted by landarc (Post 2412381)
No, no, you're not supposed to post pics when I said that. You're supposed to say 'yes, it didn't happen'

:doh: :wink:

Offthehook 03-18-2013 04:13 PM

I had the opposite problem, mine was done early. I usually slow cook mine all day and add the cabbage after I take the meat out.

---k--- 03-18-2013 04:32 PM

That sucks! If it makes you feel any better, my beef ribs on Sunday weren't that impressive either. Tough and dry. I guess we need more practice. Shame. :grin:

funugy 03-18-2013 05:34 PM

It always seems that when I cook to a time schedule things go wrong. Normally I can adjust things and the meal comes out OK. The best cooks I have done are when I just tell everybody we will eat when it is done. Unfortunately when you have a large group, cooking to the clock is normally a must.

jason p 03-18-2013 06:40 PM

Re: My corned beef fail - no pron :(
I also noticed that cooking my pastrami to 170 was not even close to tender. It was almost like driving a nail through a sole of a shoe when probe testing at 170. I wrapped it in foil at that point to speed up the process and took it to 205 before it probed like butter. Lucky for me I started about 3 hours early and figured it could rest in the cooler.

thirdeye 03-19-2013 11:44 AM

I can't say I have ever taken Pastrami with no particular finish method (foil, pressure or steaming) to a super tender state, as the corning has had an effect on the meat.... tightening it somewhat. Generally the thickness of the slices regulates tenderness (and of course grain direction). On many of the store bought flats I wind up starting my slicing from a corner to best take advantage of the grain..... and again, on these non-finished ones, my slicer is set pretty thin, not shaved meat like you can get at the deli.... but pretty thin. I make a slice and test it, then adjust as needed. My current favorite finish is a pressure finish, but I did the foil finish for years. I want to play around with steaming them too.

For a corned beef dinner I cook my cabbage and potatoes separately for a couple of reasons. When cooked with the corned beef, potatoes can soak up too much salt and it's hard for me to control the doneness of the cabbage. I will take a few cups of the pot likker, and put it in a fat separator.... then I use that as a flavor adder when cooking a separate pot of cabbage. I boil my potatoes until mostly done before letting them finish in the pot with the corned beef.

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