Monday, 12 April 2010


A pastrami sandwich is a good thing, I think most meat eaters will agree. How about home made pastrami ? It turns out you can, you just need brisket, spices, salt and smoke. Oh and time.
First step is to get a nice bit of brisket, ask the butcher nicely and tell them what its for. I had a nice slab just over a kilo in weight and it cost me £7:00. This needs to be brined to make a salt cured beef. Put the brisket in a pan and cover with water, then take the brisket out and pour salt into the water still it stops dissolving, add herbs & spices and heat gently and add a bit more salt. Let it cool and use it to cover the brisket, then put it somewhere cool and dark (like the veg drawer in your fridge). The internet has all kinds of time-scales for the brining part, 3 weeks cropped up a lot and fitted in quite well with my schedule, so that's what I went for.

If you are brining for that long its a good idea to soak it over night in clean fresh water to reduce the saltiness.

Then its time for the exciting stuff, making rub. There are all kinds of rub recipes on the internet, so I read a bunch of them to get a feel for ingredients & quantities and then made my own.
Garlic,Peppercorns,Mustard seeds and Juniper berries seem to be common ingredients I added a couple of cloves some brown sugar, a bit of fenugreek a splash of hot sauce, a splash of Jack Daniels and some smoked paprika. All the dry spice went into the pestle & mortar whilst the garlic cloves & wet stuff went into mini-chop. Once the dry stuff was nicely crushed that went into mini-chop for a quick blast too et viola rub.

Pastrami needs smoking and again opinion was divided over hot or cold. I went with hot, because I was going to have to fettle up a smoker.
If you are used to indirect grilling with your BBQ kit this is a fairly easy job. Rub the beef with your rub, and let it sit in the fridge (in a sealed container, unless you want everything to be pastrami flavour) whilst you go sort out smoking.
I had a bit of luck my neighbours have just taken charge of an allotment, there was a lot of applewood available, so that was smoking wood sorted. Pile all your fuel (Charcoal in this case) on one side of the grill. Then make a divider out of foil. Light the charcoal & let it get to temperature, then put your wood (dampen it with water to get a better smoke) on the other side of the divider. The meat is going to want to sit directly over the wood, so it gets cooked by the hot wood smoke & not directly from the charcoal.

Smoking takes a couple of hours or so, I aimed for an internal temperature of 50c in the thickest parts of the meat. If you can't get it even don't worry you can finish the meat off in a slow oven. Slice & serve. It's great hot, but even better cold on sandwiches, your bread, your trimmings.

I've got a few more photos here.
Price wise I think I'm saving 50% on supermarket pastrami and getting the bonus of being able to make it as spicy as I like.

No comments:

Post a Comment