In honor of my late dad, a WWII vet who loved outdoor cookery, I spent Memorial Day smoking up some truly strange stuff for a corned beef barbecue. Here are the results, on a scale of 5=oh, yeah! To 1=are you kidding me?
Smoked Corned Beef. In my part of the country, brisket can be criminally expensive… often over $5 per pound. Yet that same brisket makes an appearance as corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day at $2 a pound or less. Why not take a corned beef brisket… and cook it on the smoker?
I did just that except with an eye of round (making do with what was available out of season). Used my standard brisket method with a brown sugar and black pepper rub (no need for salt obviously), 3 hours in the smoker followed by 3 hours tightly wrapped in foil in a 325 degree oven until falling apart. Result was tender meat, pink like corned beef, lacking the smoke ring and crust found on a great Texas brisket. As corned beef it was excellent, as a smokehouse product pretty good, I’m giving it a 4=I’d do that again.
Corned Beef Burger. While prepping the meat it occurred to me to cut off a ¼ pound chunk and grind it into a burger which was then pan-fried and served on a bun with cheese and condiments. The taste was ok. The appearance, not so much. Couldn’t get it to brown and the crust had a pink hue even after cooking. 3=one and done.
Smoked pickles. Pickles go with corned beef, right? So let’s smoke them too! A full sour and a kosher dill were placed side by side on the top rack and smoked for 1 ½ hr. They both shriveled noticeably and maybe picked up a bit of smoke flavor, but not worth the bother. Ok for a sandwich, but 2=not gonna do that again.
Smoked onion. At the very end of the smoke I took an unpeeled Vidalia onion and just tossed it onto the lower rack where I’d just taken out the meat, then added a couple chunks of wood to keep the fire going. 2 hours or so later I had a perfectly steamed onion that fell apart into graceful and delicately smoke-flavored petals when I cut it. No reason not to make one of these every time I smoke. 5=oh, yeah!
Smoked mozzarella. This one’s a ringer because I nearly always cut up a pound of cheap mozzarella, toss it into a well-used oven-safe bowl, and let it melt and absorb flavor at the top of the smoker for 1 ½ hours. Today’s was as good as ever, transforming a brick of supermarket cheese into a gourmet item. 5=oh, yeah!