Monday, December 31, 2012

Crock Pot Corned Turkey and Cabbage - Soy, Wheat, Dairy Free

  Corned beef and cabbage is traditional St. Patrick's Day food, and some people (my family included) eat it on New Year's Day to represent wealth and health in the coming year.

  The term 'corned' really means cured or pickled with salt rocks (or corns). You can buy beef brisket already seasoned and ready to be cooked, but to my knowledge there is no such turkey product. Thankfully pickling a turkey roast at home was very easy, only requiring time to cure, and because I cooked this in a crock pot it basically made itself!
This had a very similar flavor to corned beef, and it was moist and juicy thanks to the brining.This was a fabulous substitute for corned beef!

Remember when making this that it takes 3-5 days to cure the meat. This is NOT something you can rush, it just won't be the same.

Corned Turkey 

4 cups water
1/2 cup kosher salt
2 Tbl brown sugar, firmly packed
1 Tbl pickling spice
2 cloves minced garlic

1 3lb boneless turkey roast, thawed and gravy packet removed (We use Butterball roasts with white and dark meat)
1 small bag baby carrots, or 3-5 medium carrots peeled and chopped
1 large yellow onion, cut into 8ths
1 medium head of cabbage, coarsely chopped
6 oz beer (Gluten free, if necessary. Dark stout is the best, in my opinion)
 2 large russet potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup water
1 Tbl pickling spice

In a medium sauce pan, heat brine ingredients until sugar and salt are fully dissolved. Allow mixture to completely cool. Place turkey roast (netting still on but all other packaging removed) in a large Ziploc bag (we doubled up our Ziplocs just in case there was a leak!) and pour cooled brine mixture over turkey. Try to remove as much air as possible from the bag before zipping, then place in your refrigerator for 3-5 days, turning turkey twice a day to ensure an even brine.

Once ready to cook, place carrots, onions, and potatoes in crock pot. Pour one cup water over veggies. If desired, lightly sprinkle with salt. Discard brining fluid and place the turkey roast on top of the veggies. Pour beer over roast, then sprinkle the top of roast with pickling spice. Cook, covered, on high for 3 hours, then add cabbage to crock pot, recover, and continue to cook another hour.

Remove roast from crock pot and allow to rest on a plate for 10 minutes before cutting. Serve with veggies and sour kraut, mustard, or whatever your family likes with it!


  1. This sounds good, but is the beer necessary...and doesn't it have wheat? I am allergic to garlic, so I'll have to leave that out as well. I miss corned beef, so I'm definitely going to give it a shot.

    1. Oh whoops! You're right! I don't know that it's entirely necessary, I just did it because it's called for in traditional corned beef recipes. Try it without, it probably would still be just as good! Good catch, I will fix the recipe right now!

  2. I have been looking and found they do have gluten free beer, so I'll hunt that down. Thanks again for sharing your recipes!

    I was looking for a healthy alternative to corned beef for St. Patrick's Day and came across this recipe. I did everything exactly including the recommended Butterball roast. Spent 5 days turning the roast twice a day and put this in the crockpot on St. Patrick's Day afternoon. Four hours later, took a taste and gagged at the amount of salt. I am a somewhat experienced cook, and I understand what brining is and the salt content and flavor it brings to food. This was inedible. Did you ever actually make this recipe, or did you just paste it from another website to make it look like you have a lot of content? After rinsing and boiling out as much salt as possible, we had a hunk of dried out meat and mushy vegetables that were still likely to give someone with high blood pressure a heart attack. It is great to be soy, wheat and dairy free, but substituting with incredible amounts of salt is very unhealthy as well, even if you have to avoid these other ingredients. 
    It is partially my own fault, I know processed "roasts" are injected with sodium (and lots of other stuff)
    but putting that in a brine with a half a cup of salt for 5 days makes this more than unhealthy, it is dangerous.
    That said, I am not giving up on trying to find a healthy alternative. If you, MUST use this, (because frankly there are not a whole lot of other recipes out there), these are my suggestions:
    DO NOT use a processed "roast", buy some fresh boneless turkey breast. It's more expensive, but the results won't put you in the emergency room. 
    Cut the half cup of salt to an eighth cup. A little goes a long way. Remember, this is sitting in salt for FIVE DAYS.

    1. I'm sorry you had such a horrible experience! I did make this, (I have made every recipe I post, all the pictures are of my own food, and if I use or adjust a recipe from elsewhere I try to always give credit and link to the original) and it was no saltier than corned beef is, which is mighty salty. In fact, most recipes for corned beer call for much more salt, including (I'm sure a name you might find more trust worthy than mine?) Alton Brown who's recipe calls for a WHOLE cup of kosher salt. Did you perhaps cook the turkey in the brine rather than the water, or buy a roast that was already seasoned? I know you can't make everybody happy, but I'm sorry your St. Patrick's Day dinner was ruined and I hope you have better luck finding a recipe that suits you and your family better. Good luck!

    2. I changed the wording from "Pour brining fluid out of Ziploc bag and place turkey on top of the veggies..." to "Discard brining fluid..." to clear up any misunderstandings that you are not supposed to cook in the brining fluid! :)
      Also, Cook's Illustrated recommends 5oz of salt per quart as ideal for brining, and this recipe calls for what is essentially 4.5 oz. Much less and the whole reason for brining (NOT to salt the meat but to break down the connective tissues and bring more fluid into the meat so that it is not dry or tough) would not be achieved. Hope that helps!

  4. Thanks for your suggestions, and I apologize for my rant.
    I was determined to try this again.
    This time I used a 3 lb. fresh and (not frozen) all natural turkey breast, no additives. Per your suggestion, I did not reduce the amount of salt in the brine. I brined it for 4 days, removed the brine liquid (I did this last time too!)and gave the meat a rinse. I then placed the turkey in a dutch oven with the beer and pickling spice and just enough water to cover. Simmered 90 minutes and then removed from the pot and covered to keep it warm. I then added vegetables except cabbage, but in larger size than the crock pot version. Boiled for 10 minutes, then added cabbage (in 1/8th wedges instead of chopped)and cooked about 20 minutes longer. Success!
    Salt content was just right for us and everything was delicious. I think the use of a dutch oven instead of a crock pot gave the salt a chance to reduce in intensity. I realize this method may not be for everyone, but it worked for me! Thanks again for your replies and suggestions.

    1. I am so glad you found a way to make the recipe work for you!! I find that I almost never can follow a recipe exactly as written, we always have to tweak things a bit to our own tastes here. I'm so happy you gave it another shot and especially that you came back to let me know, so thank you!

    2. My local Cub market carries DiLusso brand deli meats and I find their corned beef to be excellent, not too salty and it is allergen free. (I also have BP issues, am Diabetic with heart issues and have food allergies and this product is wonderful and workable for me.) Don't know where you live, but if you have Super Valu foods, they might have this. Just a thought.

  5. Abby, thanks for the recipe and the follow up suggestions. I don't eat red meat any more and have been thinking about what to make for St. Patty's Day! I will definitely give this a try. I have had prior successful experience brining turkey, and I expect no problems with this recipe either. Thanks! You ROCK! =)

    1. Thank you! Let me know if it works out well for you! I've made this multiple times and the turkey always comes out delicious, though the veggies have been too mushy one or twice...

  6. Thank you thank you thank you! Like your son I have EE and am allergic to a host of different meats. Turkey and chicken are my only safe meats.

    While I admit I go off the diet now and then, I always end up paying for it. I know its the worst when you want something and you just can't have it. Corn beef is one of those things I die for. That and a big steak which unfortunately I can't have. I do have a couple of pointers for you. I've had EE for 35 years.

    1. use smoked turkey legs next time. They have a more stringy consistences closer to corn beef. Take off the rest of the leg bone you can make turkey roast and osso bucco too .

    2. Liquid smoke and soy and coconut amino's, hoisin sauce make turkey taste more like pork. This works good for sausage too. Adds a slight bacony flavor if done right.

    Once again thank you for the recipe. If you'd like to exchange some things I'd be open too it.

    1. Jodi, thank you so much! Using legs makes so much sense as far as the texture goes and I know I can buy them with a lot less processing than the breast so that's great! We can't use hoisin or soy aminos due to soy being a trigger also but we've used the coconut before and other than it not being quite as salty, it's a great sub so I'll try that too! I hate to sound ignorant but I did not know the disease was being diagnosed 35 years ago, we still have to explain it to doctors most times, bleh. Thankfully my son has been symptom free and growing well on this restricted diet with no more steroids or other interventions. Are all of your triggers meat?

  7. Thank You, Abby ! Using your recipe, I "corned" 2 bone-in, skin-on breast halves, approximately 2.5 # each. Cooked one after 4 days and the other after 7 days in the brine. Both were excellent, but the 7-day brine seemed a bit better. I like to tie the pickling spices into cheese cloth so we don't inadvertently bite into a peppercorn or coriander seed. Your recipe is a good one and I'll be using it again during the year. Cheers!

  8. I like the idea of tying up the spices, I think I'll try that next time! I'm so glad this worked out for you, thank you for taking the time to share your success with it :)