About a week ago we acquired a nice 13 pound beef brisket. In the summer I really enjoy doing Texas style brisket, but winter is perfect for making pastrami.
Pastrami uses time tested old world curing techniques and produces some of the best deli meat you will ever experience. It is a fairly uncomplicated process, it also happens to be a great place to show case some of our amazing organic spices.
To start, we made a brine with our in house pickling spice, sea salt, sugar, and some curing salt. Then we put the brisket and brine in a 5 gallon bucket, topped it up with water and stored it on a back porch for 6 days. Pictured below is the pastrami coming out of the brine.
At this point we rinsed the brine off and did a couple cold water soaks to get any excess salt out. We let it sit in the fridge for a few hours to dry out.
The crust on a pastrami in its simplest form is ground black pepper and crushed coriander. We also added just a hint of onion granules to this mix and rubbed it all over the pastrami. We let this sit overnight to dry out a bit more and to help evenly distribute all the delicious flavor.
What really sets pastrami apart from corned beef is the smoking process. At this point we put it on a smoker to cook for 6 hours. You want the pastrami to hit about 150 degrees internal temperature. Here are a couple pictures of this process.
We used a mix of oak and charcoal for the smoker. Temperature was about 20 degrees out and the smoker ran at about 220 degrees. When it was done we let it rest on the counter for a few hours and then refrigerated it over night. Here is a shot when we cut it in half right before putting it in the fridge.
The final and most gratifying aspect of this process was making a lunch of reuben sandwiches for some good friends.