Tag Archives: smoke

Pastrami – Homemade

Everybody’s done it, okay maybe not you or you wouldn’t be here, but if someone loves to smoke meat they will eventually try to make their own pastrami. What is pastrami anyways? Wikipedia has gathered a fairly straight forward history lesson on it here. It is Jewish in origin and typically made from beef, sometimes from pork, turkey, and other meats. Here in America we typical use beef brisket and maybe sometimes you’ll see the beef plate used as well. Go to the deli in the grocery store and order pastrami, it’ll likely be a beef round which will be sliced thin. Nothing like a brisket. The down side of a brisket, is it is a muscle that is worked a lot in the animal. As such it is tough. But with some slow love, you can make a piece of meat that makes everyone’s head turn. Another great win concerning this delectable meat treasure is it comes from a need of preservation. So the meat keeps well.

Below I’ll walk you through my cheat version (buying already “corned” beef). This particular run of doing this I went with a very peppery blend. No sugars, just black pepper, coriander, and garlic powder. We’ll discuss other blends in a minute. But first, what part of the cow are we eating here anyways?

 

Location of Beef Brisket
Location of Beef Brisket

The brisket is what we are going after. The brisket is then broken down into mainly two sections. The Point muscle, where the girth and fat layer reside. Then the Flat muscle which is the thinner section with the “tip” and a little section of the fat layer.

2012-03-02-brisket_diagram_corned_beef

 

I have tried the grocery store pre-packaged corned beefs a ton of times. (there are two types, I am talking about the UNcooked version) They are either the Flat OR the Point muscle. I was doing pretty good with them for a while. They cook pretty quick and make decent pastrami’s. Then a good friend of mine hooked me up with a deal from restaurantdepot on one of their corned beef packages. They offer Whole Packers Cut Corned briskets. The big boy. Great layers of fat. 17-18 lbs each. I haven’t looked back, I can’t remember the last time I used a grocery store corned beef package. ha!

Whole Packer's Cut Corned Brisket
Whole Packer’s Cut Corned Brisket

Above is what I got. A 17lb hunk of cow, waiting to get peppery smoking love. So this hunk is full of salt. Pink curing salt in fact. The big hunks of meat like this get injected every inch with a curing solution. Sodium Nitrate. So we need to get this guy into a clean water bath and soak for a day (refrigerated while it is soaking) to remove all of that salt. I like to change the water out once at 12 hours. This will draw the salt out. If you don’t do this the meat will be incredibly salty when you go to eat it. INCREDIBLY salty. Soak this guy in water! Smaller corned briskets, maybe 15 hours. Big ones like this one, 24 to 48 hours. Oddly enough this water bath will work so well you may find that you need to salt your pastrami sandwich once you are ready to eat. That’s fine, salt away. Just remember you daily allowance. (2400 milligrams) hehehe

Corned Brisket soaking in water.
Corned Brisket soaking in water.
Soaking after 1st 12 hours.
Soaking after 1st 12 hours.
Corned Brisket after soaking for 48 hours.
Corned Brisket after soaking for 48 hours.
Corned Brisket after soaking
Corned Brisket after soaking for 48 hours

Pat this thing dry. No leaking water. As dry as it can be. Now this is when you need to put your signature pastrami rub on the brisket. Pay attention to the fat side. You’ll need to reference this later when you put it in the smoker and in the cool down stage. After liberally rubbing it down with the a rub concoction of black pepper and coriander you’ll let it sit in the fridge for a day. At 17lb’s, I went for two days. You’ll want to flip it every 12 hours or so. Did you remember which side was fat side? As mentioned earlier, I went with a super simple rub this time. I wanted a black pepper wallup! Here’s my rub mixture on this particular cook.

4 TBSP Crushed Black Pepper
2 TBSP Coarsely Ground Black Pepper
2 TBSP Garlic Powder
2 TBSP Ground Coriander

That’s it. Now the big boys, like Katz’s run with a more complex mixture which I highly recommend. This is how you blow your family and friends away with the flavors. Seriously the below, goodness.

4 TBSP Coarsely Ground Black Pepper
2 TBSP Ground Coriander
1 TSP Mustard Powder
1 TBSP Brown Sugar
1 TBSP Paprika (just for color)
2 TSP Garlic Powder (I am a garlic lover, I’d go with a TBSP)
2 TSP Onion Powder

All in all, experiment with what you like or you think will work. The only two spices that are mandatory are black pepper and coriander for pastrami.

Applying Pepper, Coriander, and Garlic rub on Corned Brisket
Applying Pepper, Coriander, and Garlic rub on Corned Brisket
Applying Pepper, Coriander, and Garlic rub on Corned Brisket
Applying Pepper, Coriander, and Garlic rub on Corned Brisket
Corned Brisket rubbed and ready for fridge
Corned Brisket rubbed and ready for fridge

Something I thought of but didn’t picture is using parchment paper in the bottom of the Tupperware holder. The brisket will get moist and sometimes the rub clumps off or rubs off on the container. I put parchment paper in the bottom and on top of it so when I flipped the brisket every 12 hours the rub didn’t come off. You can use a bag or any type of container, just make sure it is sealed and you flip it every now and again (the weight of the meat will help the rub adhere) Now cover it up and put in fridge for 24 hours for anything up to 10 lbs. Up to 20 lbs go for two days. Flipping every 6-12 hours.

Let’s smoke! Get it out of the fridge and put in the (pre-heated) smoker FAT SIDE UP. You are going to want to aim for a maintained smoker temp of 225*. The time of the cook will be determined by the thickness of the brisket, not the weight. My size brisket warranted about 12 ounces of wood. Pastrami can handle smoke so don’t be worried about over smoking but after about 3-6 hours (depending on size) you  don’t need to worry about it much if it doesn’t smoke anymore. I used hickory. I know I know, personal preference. Most experts like cherry or fruit tree wood when it comes to red meats. I like hickory. A lot. But there are so many flavors in a pastrami, the last thing you’ll notice is what smoke I used. You are shooting for internal temps of 190* to 200*. And don’t worry about not seeing smoke rings. You won’t. The meat was cured already with pink curing salt which has the same contents as the smoke you are hitting it with, nitrate. I used an electric smoker in this case as I can set it up and go to my day job and not worry about maintaining temps. I prefer charcoal. But since this cut of meat (mainly thickness of meat) has so much cooking/smoking time I am not too worried about it not forming a good bark. NOTHING beats charcoal smoking. NOTHING. Shhh, don’t argue, just accept that charcoal is the best smoke you’ll ever have. Charcoal mixed with other things like wood you say? Okay fine, that’ll work. Wood only? Okay, obvious that’s true “smoking” but you can’t have the fire too close. But man, charcoal will turn the bark on this meat into pure magic. Anyhoot, moving on.

Raw Pastrami brisket in smoker
Raw Pastrami brisket in smoker
At the time of this cook the outside temperature was 27*. I wrapped the smoker in some blankets. I would cuddle with it but it doesn't like to cuddle until it has cooked its meat. It's a very particular smoker.
At the time of this cook the outside temperature was 27*. I wrapped the smoker in some blankets. I would cuddle with it but it doesn’t like to cuddle until it has cooked its meat. It’s a very particular smoker.
All Done!
All Done!

Now get this hunk of love into the kitchen. I know I know, go ahead, cut a piece, I did. 🙂

Just after smoking taste Test!
Just after smoking taste Test!

Your taste test may say it is a little dry (if you chose the point end) or chewy, that’s alright. Hurry up and get it wrapped in aluminum foil. You want to remember where the fat side is and also wrap it so no juices run out of your foil wrap. Make about 3 or 4 wraps. Now wrap that aluminum bundle of joy up in towels. Large towels. (Fat side, where is it?) Two towels is what I used. Now, again remember fat side up and put in a cooler and close cooler. With the fat side up the meat is still going to finish cooking and the fat renderings will still run down to the no fat side which will bath in the juices. FORGET about this hunk of meat for 2-4 hours.

Pastrami wrapped in foil after you get it out of smoker.
Pastrami wrapped in foil after you get it out of smoker.
Pastrami wrapped in foil and then wrapped in towels and then put in a cooler. Don't forget to shut the lid.
Pastrami wrapped in foil and then wrapped in towels and then put in a cooler. Don’t forget to shut the lid.

After being in the cooler for the allotted time there are a couple routes you can take. If you timed this right and it’s time to eat, well get to it, steam and slice or slice and fry. If you are looking for New York style goodness, cut a large chunk and steam it until the internal temp is around 200* to 205*. 203* to be NY Deli specific. BUT this should be a very slow process. Go at it slow. In fact some great advice over at amazingribs.com on how to steam pastrami (Step 6). Don’t steam it after you sliced it and remember to ALWAYS cut it perpendicular to the grain of the meat. You are looking for a slice as thin as possible, no more than 1/8″. Me personally, I like it sliced and fried in a touch of EVOO on toasted rye bread with brown mustard. MMMM MMMM MMMMM!!!

If you don’t plan to eat it right away, with the foil still on it stick the whole hunk in the fridge. Once it is fridge temp take it out and cut it into large chunks that are more manageable and if you have a vacuum sealer, seal each chunk. It freezes just fine (once vacuumed seal) and keeps in the vacuum seal in the fridge for a good bit. I have never been able to test out how long it can last, I eat it all. I used a machine to slice it while it is still cold and then heat in pan with EVOO to make it a little crunchy. Otherwise slicing with a machine is laughable when pastrami is warm.

Pastrami unwrapped from fridge.
Pastrami unwrapped from fridge (24 hours in fridge).
Sliced in manageable chunks
Sliced in manageable chunks. It has been in fridge for 24 hours.
This is right in the middle of the brisket, still cold from the fridge.
This is right in the middle of the brisket, still cold from the fridge.
Bagged up and a little left over for a quick sandwich.
Bagged up and a little left over for a quick sandwich.
Poor phone picture of pastrami before going in my belly. I didn't have any rye bread for the making of this one, next time.
Poor phone picture of pastrami before going in my belly. I didn’t have any rye bread for the making of this one, next time.

There ya go folks. Homemade Pastrami. Of course we cheated a little and let someone else cure it for us, but eh, it’ll be alright. If you want to cure it yourself, get some big pots and a lot of time and go at it. Go here and follow their instructions. Awesome website, they talk about the design and science of it all and show you how to do it. Either way…eat on and remember, life is too short to always follow the recipe, mix it up. Put this on pizza, make hash (some of the best hash you’ll ever have), or cut it up and put into a stew. You’ll be happy.

Venison hind quarter on the grill!

While it is snowing. March 25th. I am the last person to complain about the weather. Seriously. I really don’t care. But this constant snow and below 20* temps is destroying our electric bill and putting a cramp in my grilling time.

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That awesome food friend, Linda at BWB in Gaithersburg MD, hooked me up with a small hind quarter of venison. Actually her friend did. It was frozen. So I thawed it out and injected it with worcestershire sauce. Covered it in coarsely ground black pepper, garlic powder, and coriander (hello pastrami seasoning) and let it sit in a sealed Tupperware dish in the fridge for 3 days.

Tonight, after dinner I figured if I threw it on the charcoal grill and kept it in an iron skillet off to one side it’d take a few hours to cook. Well, I am out of charcoal apparently. So I used apple wood chunks and cowboy chunks (pre-cinders). After searing over an open flame I did just that, put in a skillet. Kept grill temps around 250* to 300* with a couple spikes here and there. It only took about 2 hours to get the bone area to 125*. Outer areas where a little too hot, 140*. Took it out and wrapped in foil about 4 times. Then wrapped in towels a few times. And then threw it in the oven (OVEN OFF) and it’ll sit in there for a few hours before break it down it servings to take to work in sealed bags for everyone. I’ll update this post with pics of the product tore apart later, if I remember and don’t eat it all first.

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I ate a little piece off the grill. It was pretty good. I didn’t eat a piece of the grill! The deer dang it!

First blog with the phone I stead of desktop. I should be able post more now. But you’ll get nothing but phone pics this way. Let me know what you think and any pointers are surely welcomed. Cook on people!

***EDIT!!!***
Okay, so just ate some. Not as smokey as I’d like. But you can’t ask for much with only a 2 hr cook time. But with that cook time of 2 hrs, the center was very medium rare and made for some great f’ing sandwiches!

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Egg and deer? YUM!

Dewey’s canned smoked Jalapenos Recipe

This comes from a recipe I got online making a basic brine for jalapenos (non-smoked/non-cooked). I wrecked the recipe up pretty hard. I think the only thing left from the original recipe is salt. HAHA Boil your jars, lid rings, and lids about 20 minutes or so before using them but keep them in water that is simmering while you are doing all of this. Keep super hot and sterilized.

The ending product is STRONG and SPICY! Strong being the smoked flavor is huge! A small spoon of these in a large pot of chili will change the entire flavor of the chili. Awesome stuff!!

You can also do this exact recipe and NOT smoke the peppers. The relish is delicious on eggs and other items you like a some heat and sweet vinegar tastes.

Brine:

Mix all these ingredients on medium heat in a large part. House will smell like garlicky vinegar. Once it starts to bubble/boil, turn heat back so it simmers. Let it simmer while you smoke the peppers. Gives a good chance for everything to mix together. I even leave it over night. But you don’t have to. Just make sure the mixture is mixed up very well before putting in jar so each jar gets all the spices. BEFORE jarring remove the bay leaves and throw them away.

Peppers (use gloves!!!!):

  • I don’t have a measuring device for this. Just a bunch of peppers. What’s in my garden dictates this. You can use ANY pepper. Bell, banana, habanero, ghost, jalapenos, or whatever your heart desires. I typically use jalapenos. I leave all the rinds and seeds in the peppers. This increases the heat 10 fold.The brine works awesome for any of it. Obviously every pepper is different. Mix sweet and hot. Wreck it!
  • Cut the stem tops off the peppers. This will help the smoke get in them. You can slice them open if you want but it isn’t necessary.
  • I smoke my peppers at 225* for 45 minutes with hickory wood. Any longer and we start to soften up the pepper and cook them too much. After the canning process I don’t won’t smooshy peppers. The smoke has done its job at this point any way. In fact, it is best to not put the peppers in the smoker until it starts to smoke.
  • Once smoked, you cut them in slices to be jarred or cut them up and throw them in a food processor and CHOP them up in small pieces for a “relish” type of salsa. The chopping may create inconsistent sizes, add some of your brine (cooled) to help spread the peppers as the fly thru your processor.

Canning Instructions:

  • Detailed canning help can be found at Ball Corporation (maker of Mason Jars) preserving website HERE.
  • Accessories for canning that are a must have.. Amazon Linky Here
  • Pack several jars with the peppers (or chopped peppers) you wish to preserve. By the way, you can add whole garlic cloves or bits at this time too if you want. It amps up the yummy factor.
  • Remove those bay leaves and stir the solution up real good and add the solution to your jars. Be sure to get rid of air pockets and traps.
  • Finish sealing the jars per the link above at Ball Corporation.
  • Remove jars from water and dry. Let jars sit overnight. The tops will suck down as they come to room temp.

 

 

 

Some pictures of it all going done in dewmanshu’s homestead.

Jalapenos and Banana Peppers
From my dad’s garden.
All the ingredients into the pool!

 

Dewey's Pepper Brine
Stirring the brine. Slotted spoons for the win!

 

Simmering brine.
Stem tops cut off to help smoke get in the peppers.

 

Hickory Chunk ready for the smoker.

 

Peppers in the smoker.

 

Smoke starting to roll.

 

Smoked.

 

Cut up into slices. You can stick in food processor and chop into bits if you want.

 

Chopping some of them up!

 

Chopped batch in jar with brine.

 

All finished. One chopped and one sliced.