Awesome Pastrami

  • March 15, 2013 11:48 AM
    Message # 1243646

    While several different cuts of meat can be used to make pastrami, the best is the brisket. You should start with an untrimmed 5-8 pound brisket flat that is fairly even in thickness from end to end. You want untrimmed, as many times the butcher will take too much of the fat off of it. Before you cure the flat, trim all of the fat to leave no more than 1/8 inch thickness anywhere. Pastrami should have a little fat for flavor, but not an over abundance. (Note: When you buy fatty pastrami, it is usually a top or bottom round cut that has been used. Do yourself a favor and use the more flavorful brisket.)

    1/4 cup Morton Tender Quick
    1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
    1/4 cup freshly ground black pepper
    2 tablespoons granulated garlic
    2 tablespoons ground coriander

    Pour half of the dry cure on one side of the brisket, rubbing it evenly over the surface and the edges, then repeat on the other side. It may seem like too much cure to use, but it's not.

    Place the brisket in a 2-gallon Ziploc bag, seal the bag, lay it out flat on a rimmed sheet pan to catch any leakage, and refrigerate for three days, four at most. Ideally you should flip the bag over twice a day during this process. Some liquid will form in the bottom of the bag, and this will help redistribute it.

    After the 3-4 days, rinse the flat thoroughly with running water, rubbing to remove as much of the seasoning and cure as possible. After a thorough rinse, soak in cold water for 30 mins., then drain and soak in cold water for another 30 mins. Afterwards, pat dry in preparation for the rub.

    Pastrami Dry Rub:
    3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper, slightly coarse grind
    1 teaspoon freshly ground coriander seeds, slightly coarse grind
    1 teaspoon granulated garlic

    Preheat smoker to 240F.

    Apply rub to the brisket. This recipe should be just right for up to 8 pounds of brisket.

    Place seasoned brisket, fat cap down, into your 240F cooker. Add about 3 chunks of your favorite wood (remember that you are not smoking the pastrami, only adding a little extra flavor. Do not over do the smoke), I used Pecan, and cook at 240F until an average internal temperature of 165F is reached, do not baste during the cooking process. The brisket will read higher or lower in different areas, but you're looking for an average of all the areas.

    Once a 165F average is reached (approximately 4 hours), remove from cooker and double wrap in foil and a towel to rest for 2 hours in an iceless cooler with the fat side facing up.

    When done, slice across the grain into very thin slices. A V-Slicer, or mandolin, on the thinnest setting, work extremely well for this. Enjoy, you've made real pastrami!

    I only slice what I need at the time, and leave the rest in a big hunk wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. When I make my slices I then wrap them in plastic wrap, and then wrap that in foil. This stops the steam from making too much direct contact and removing any of the flavor. Steam the packet you've just made for about 20 mins and you will have the best pastrami sandwiches you have ever tasted.

    Here are some "after" pictures from my last pastrami adventure. Sorry that there is nothing added to the photos to give it scale, but it was 4.75 pounds after cooking.

    My pastrami just out of the cooker-

    Side view-

    Next day, getting ready to slice-

    Taking a peek at the ends (OK, it was actually more of a nibble than a peek )-

    Looks as good inside as it does outside-

    A parting shot-

    Pastrami is amazingly simple to make, and I have never purchased any which tasted as good as this!


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