Home Made Pastrami

Why settle for pre-packaged pastrami when you can easily make your own with superior flavor, lower sodium and no strange preservatives?   This is another slow food recipe. Elapsed time is 4-10 days, but the actual applied time is quite short, at 1-2 hours including packaging and clean up.

Small chunk of the pastrami

 

This recipe is based on the one in Charcuterie 

The meat is brined for a week, smoked overnight and the finished in the oven.   For cured meats I prefer to use metric measurements and work by weight rather than volume .   I use a full size “packer” brisket (12-14 lbs)  I cut the flat in half and remove the heavy surface fat as well as that between the flat and point.  So now you have 3 approximately equal sized pieces that will now fit in a refrigerator crisper drawer with the brine as well as on the smoker.

Brine

1 gallon  / 4l water
300 g kosher salt (Mortons)
225 g sugar
35 g pink salt  (Cure #1)
1 tbsp / 8 grams Pickling spice (make your own or get Penzey’s)
90 g dark brown sugar
1/4 c 60 ml honey
5-8 garlic cloves – thinly sliced

Mix the brine making sure the salt and sugar are dissolved.   Place the brine and the meat in a crisper drawer or suitable container in the fridge. If you have room, place a heavy plate on top to keep the meat submerged.   Turn the meat every 1-2 days.   After a week remove and rinse well.

If desired, cover with 1 tbsp /8 g crushed coriander seed and 1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper.   I usually halve this or skip it as Teal does not like the heat of the pepper.

Smoking

Place the meat on a rack, pat it dry  and allow to come up to close to room temperature. The reason for this is to form a pellicle on the surface – a tacky coating that better absorbs the smoke. By warming it up you will also avoid having the smoke condense and make a sooty mess on the surface of the meat.

Smoke at 220- 225F for 14-16 hours over hardwood charcoal and cherry wood chunks (branch slices 3-4 ” diameter and 2-3″ thick are perfect).  I start in the late afternoon or evening and then can pull it off the next day.  This is where the Heatermeter comes in handy which provides perfect hands free temperature control.    You are looking for an internal temp of 160-165F . There should be a nice bark on the surface.   It will taste great but still be too tough.

Now moved to a covered  dutch oven with 1/2″ of water in the bottom and place in the oven at 275F for 3 hours. Final  internal temp should be about 200-205F.  At this point it will be nice and tender but firm and dark pink throughout.

If you have any brown or light pink areas in the middle it was not brined quite long enough or froze while in the brine (this last batch froze as the fridge is in the garage and temps dipped to well under freezing too early in the season).

Serve and enjoy.  We vacuum pack chunks and freeze for later (and raiding by our kids).