One of my favorite sandwiches is a true Jewish New York pastrami. Unfortunately where I’m from you just can’t find anything that is even close. So I make my own. The cut of meat most Jewish delis use is the beef navel. It has a lot of fat layers just like bacon that make it so perfect for pastrami. It is a difficult cut to find for the average person. A reasonable substitute is the flat portion of the beef brisket. It has a nice fat cap but not a lot of fat layered. Some people choose to use the point portion of the brisket. It has a lot of fat but is marbled fat versus layered fat. I prefer the flat cut but it’s up to your own personal preference. This recipe works with either. A common error some home curers make is to buy a store bought corned beef that is ready to cook. They press the pastrami seasonings onto the corned beef and smoke it. They eliminate the 5 days minimum curing time needed to cure the brisket. The problem with that approach is that your pastrami is going to taste like corned beef, not pastrami. A dominant flavor in corned beef is pickling spice. You can’t get rid of that flavor by soaking and smoking. So if you are going to make pastrami, don’t take shortcuts.
You can buy a flat cut brisket at most supermarkets. It should be about 8 lbs. Trim the fat cap down to about 1/4 inch. The fat is important but to much requires that you trim the fat cap after you smoke it and there goes a lot of flavor. Prepare your curing brine. Inject the brisket with curing brine in 6-8 places to cut down on the curing time. Place in a food grade plastic bag and pour in the rest of the brine. Seal bag removing all the air and seal. Place in the fridge and let cure 5 days turning over once a day. Remove brisket from brine and rinse. In a small cooler add cold water and allow brisket to soak 4 hours changing the water every hour. This removes excess salt and if you skip this step you will have pastrami that is so salty you will have a hard time eating it.
Remove brisket from soaking water and pat dry with paper towels. It’s time to apply your curing spices. Use it all. Press it on all sides firmly. Place back in a food grade plastic bag and remove as much air as possible. Place a cutting board on top of the plastic bag with a cast iron or other heavy object on top. Place bag in the fridge and allow to cure at least 48 hours. I let it cure 4 days because I like the spices to infuse as much flavor as possible, and since the brisket has been preserved with instacure #1 you don’t have to worry about spoilage. Place brisket in the smoker on an oiled rack and smoke @ 250 degrees for 6 hours. After 6 hours transfer brisket to a baking sheet with a rack and pour about 1/2 inch of hot water in the baking sheet. Cover brisket and baking sheet with heavy duty foil and place back in smoker or in an oven heated to 250 degrees for an additional 3 hours. Remove from heat source and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes, covered. It takes some serious time to prepare this pastrami so I would suggest that if you have the refrigerator space, do two briskets. Once done, you can cut each brisket into several pieces (don’t cut in slices) vacuum pack and freeze for up to 90 days. You’re going to think you went to pastrami heaven, I guarantee!
Recipe (double if doing two):
For the brine:
1 gallon ice cold water
8 ozs kosher salt by weight
3 tsp. instacure #1
I cup firmly packed brown sugar
12 cloves fresh garlic, minced
For the rub:
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
3 tablespoons cracked black peppercorns
2 teaspoons yellow mustard seed
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 Tbs. garlic granules
1 Tbs. onion granules
Place coriander seeds, yellow mustard seeds in a spice grinder and pulse just until seeds are crushed. Mix in the rest of the spices.
Follow recipe instructions above.
Summer Salami is a popular salami also known as Thuringer. It is a semi-dry cured salami that is smoked after it is allowed to cure to develop a natural tang. It is very popular with hunters who use venison & elk meat and this recipe works very well substituting wild game meat for the pork. I would however make sure that all fat is trimmed from the meat and add the bacon in this recipe or you can use pork back fat.
I use pork and pork back fat in my traditional recipe. Today I am using bacon ends instead of the pork fat to give it a little change of flavor.
Mix all the dry ingredients together.
Grind the partially frozen meat and fat using a 3/8 grinding plate. Mix in dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Place in a ziplock bag and pack tightly removing all air and sealing. Put in the refrigerator and let cure for 4 days.
To make it easier to regrind the meat, I form little pieces that easily feed down the grinding tube. Grind and stuff the casings using a large grinding plate as the whole peppercorns need to pass through.
Hang salami on a smoke rack and let cure @ room temperature for 12 hours.
Insert a temperature probe into one of the salamis and place in smoker @ 110 degrees. When the internal temp reaches that, raise smoker temp to 125 degrees. When that temp is reached, raise smoker temp to 155. The salami is done when 155 degrees is reached. Remove salami still on the smoke rack and shower with cold water until the internal temp reaches 110 degrees. Gently wipe the salami with paper towels.
Let hang on smoke rack @ room temp for three hours to allow the salami to bloom. Store refrigerated. I like to vacuum pack what I’m not going to eat right away and place in the freezer. They won’t lose any flavor for up to 90 days.
4 lbs. pork shoulder
1 lb. bacon or fatty bacon ends
1 tsp. Instacure #1
2 Tbs. powdered dextrose
2 tsp. coarse ground pepper
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. black peppercorns
3 ozs. Fermento
Cube pork, bacon & partially freeze. Grind with 3/8 grinding plate. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Place in ziplock bag and let cure refrigerated 4 days. Regrind using a large grinding plate and stuff into casings. Hang at room temp for 12 hours. Smoke @ 110 degrees several hours then raise the temp to 125 degrees for about and hour. Raise temp to 155 degrees and salami is done when the internal temp is 155 degrees. DO NOT ALLOW THE SMOKER TO GET ABOCE 160 DEGREES OR THE FAT WILL START TO SEPERATE. Remove from smoker immediately and shower with cold water until the internal temp reaches 110 degrees. Hang @ room temp to allow salami to bloom.