The Fresh Loaf

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Smoked Pastrami-A Reason to Bake Deli Rye

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Smoked Pastrami-A Reason to Bake Deli Rye

Smoked Pastrami

While we bake bread for many purposes, few could be considered more noble than to aid in the creation of an outstanding Pastrami sandwich. Corned beef is a close second in my opinion but also a nice topping for deli rye breads. I have made this recipe many times and suggest you might consider smoking all you can get in your smoker at one time. It freezes well, sliced, and you will enjoy knowing you have a bag at hand if the need arises to feed special friends on the quick.

A few years ago, a fellow at Kenny and Zuke's Deli in Portland OR , took pity on me and showed me how to make what has been described by many as the best Pastrami in the USA. Many food writers from all over have marveled at the flavor and texture of the absolutely marvelous Brisket done Pastrami style in their restaurant. Even the food writers in NY have waxed on about how there may be better but they haven’t found it yet.  Everything I write here, in fact everything I know about the fine craft of creating this delicious and tender indulgence, I learned from Nick which I think is Zuke. I scaled the quantities back and fooled with the process for  a home cook but it is essentially the original recipe. I have read they are now back to curing their own meats and have changed the recipe slightly to improve the flavors. For a time they sub contracted the curing because it takes up so much space and is a pain to keep track of, in the quantity they go through. I can’t help but to trust these guys to have made it better, hard as it might be to believe. If you find yourself near Portland, please do stop in for a real treat. They serve the very best of everything in this unusual Deli.

There are many ways to cook or smoke Pastrami. As I understand it, the term applies more to the process than the actual meat used. I have read of pastrami  turkey and other poultry. However for me the only real pastrami starts off life as a beef brisket that is first cured and marinated in special preservative (pink) salt, sugar and spices for at least 5 days and as long as 12. The combination of ingredients in the brine has a major impact on the finished product and while I am suggesting below that you start by buying an already cured piece of brisket sold as “Corned Beef” in the grocery, that product was intended to be boiled and consumed as corned beef. It will produce a very good Pastrami but the best flavor will come from starting with a raw, fresh brisket and curing your own. If you want to cure your own, start by finding some curing or “pink” salt. This is available on line and is added at around 1 Tablespoon per gallon of water.  You MUST have the proper salt. You MUST have the ability to refrigerate and rotate the meat daily during the days of curing time. The following pastrami demo was done with pre cured corned beef and it’s delicious.

A full Packer Cut of Brisket consists of a flat and a point, once it is separated and  I find them at Sam's or any real butcher between 9-11 Lbs. Your butcher will be able to remove the point from the flat and leave a 1/8-1/4 inch fat cap remaining. The flat is the more lean piece and usually the larger of the two. When done properly, the point is my favorite. It has more fat and connective tissues so it’s not for those on a diet. To be clear, you definitely want to separate the point from the flat before curing. When I have purchased full Packer cuts of whole brisket that have been cured for corned beef, I always separate them. The cooking (smoking time) and evenness is much better with two smaller pieces. If you have a real butcher, ask him to let you watch how he splits the brisket into a flat and a point. It isn't hard but you need to know how to do it.  I don't think I could describe the process well enough in words to make it meaningful. So ether get a cured piece of flat or find a real butcher and order what you want or need. I like the butcher personally. It's a dying art and I like to support them.

Let’s get started.

Equipment needed:

Smoker
Stock pot
1 gallon Zip Lock bags with gusset
roasting pan
sheet pans
Sharp Carving Knife

Ingredients:

I’m going to include the home curing ingredients now. If you are starting with a cured corn beef, ignore this list of ingredients and skip to the rub ingredients, which is the same for both procedures. The amounts listed for the curing brine is enough for 6 full briskets. Scale down for home use as necessary.

Brine:
6 gallons of water
7 cups kosher salt
1 1/8 cup pink salt
5 cups white sugar
2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup pickling spice
1/4 cup coriander seed
1/4 cup mustard seed
1/3 cup minced garlic

Rub:

Ground Coriander
Course crushed Black Pepper
Mustard seed ground
Garlic powder or granules.

 

 

 

I don’t think you can hold a slow steady 225-250F indirect heat  on any grill I have seen or used. You have to have some kind of smoker where there is a heat source, wood chip shelf, water bath and grill racks. These fall into categories of fuel type and size. The purist types might opt for a wood or coal fired unit but that means you have to tend a finicky fire for 12 hours. I’ve done that a few times but the convenience of a gas or electric heater makes this smoking far easier and the final product is barely any different than if you stayed up all night singing to yourself. Weber has a couple models that will hold a decent size Turkey that work well for this. I have a Smoke Vault by Camp Chef. You can find it near $220 on sale around or online. I see Brinkman has a less expensive gas model for $149 that looks like it would get the job done, at Home Depot. Get the biggest one your budget will afford. The world of smoked meats is addictive and there are plenty of ways to use your smoker. Turkey breast and salmon are our other smoked favorites.  This process doesn’t impart so much of a smoky flavor that you taste the smoke. It should be a mild and subtle enhancement. Any Low and Slow pit master will tell you it is easy to ruin a Q by over smoking.  You are looking for a little smoke during all the cooking  time. I’ll include a photo but your nose is the best guide. You can just see the smoke as it drifts  out the top. Perfect.

Regardless of your smoker you should be able to get two flats on the rack with space between or on 2 layers.  My smoker will hold 6 large flats at one time but then I tend to do things on a larger scale for parties and such. The smoking process shrinks the meats considerably so I suggest getting the largest flat portion usually about 4 lbs each. By the time the meat is done, you will be wishing you had done 2.  Left over’s freeze well, double wrapped in plastic or vac-u-packed.

The process:

First, purchase the largest one or two corned beef flats from your grocery store. I have to look around to find two the same size above 4 pounds so they cook at the same rate. It is hard to know what a brisket flat will look like out of the bag. It pays to take a little time to find quality and hopefully get a piece that isn’t tapered down to a small flap and thinner on one side than the other. Look at the piece I’m holding below and see how I was moaning I didn’t see the thin side at the store. This meat cooks a long time. You’re  looking for even cooking which comes from even thickness. Ultimately you have to cook for the thickest part of the meat so the thinner part will be more well done at the end. Not the end of the world but a perfect piece is better.

Start by rinsing the meet off under cold water and letting it soak in cold water for 2 hours. After 2 hours, dump the water and replace with fresh cold water. I add ice to keep it cooler. After the second rinse, pat dry and let it drip over the sink on a wire rack for a few minutes.  This soaking will remove some of the salt from the commercial curing process which is usually too salty for our purposes. Additionally, the smoking process will concentrate the remaining salt so it’s good to remove some now.

While the meat is soaking, prepare the spices. I buy the whole coriander seeds and run them through my spice mill. Some are ground more finely and some are more like crushed. I usually buy course crushed or cracked black pepper since my spice mill (coffee grinder) has a hard time with whole pepper corns. I use Coriander as the primary spice with black pepper as the secondary. I also use granulated garlic and a small amount of ground mustard. You want the Coriander to be the prominent flavor with the pepper in the second seat. Mix it all together and have it handy for application. I’m not giving exact amounts because the size and number  of meats varies. Mostly Coriander, then pepper, then garlic, then mustard. The spice coating and the fat below it become what is known as the “Bark” or “Mr. Brown” in Southern BBQ circles. The bark is my favorite part but it is an acquired taste, thankfully. You can see in the photo I started with 1-1/2 Cups of spice mixture. I had ½ Cup remaining after covering 3 brisket flats.

I like to pat the meat dry with paper towels and place it on a wire rack over a sheet pan to set for a while and come to room temperature for a bit. Then, remove the rack, dry further and set the meat on the pan. The idea is to apply as much spice as will stay in place, covering all sides completely. I like to wrap the meat in plastic wrap or a gallon bag and refrigerate it overnight if possible. I have started the smoker immediately and started the cooking but it’s better if you can give it an overnight dry marinade.

Smoke Day:

Remove the meat from the cooler a couple hours before you plan to put it on the smoker. Start your smoker and get it prepared with a water bath below the cooking rack filled with hot water. Pre heat the heater and fill the wood chip tray with some hardwood. I don’t use musquiet which is popular in Texas for BBQ due to it’s pungent flavor. Any other hardwood will be fine. Set your heat adjustments to 225-250F and find yourself an adult beverage. It takes a while for the smoker to come to a stable temperature. The meat is cool the water is cool and the wood chips haven’t started to smoke yet. After an hour, make sure you check the thermometer and start making changes to stay between the range of 225-250. Plan on this taking at least 11 hours and maybe more. The larger your meats are, the longer it will take to get them to 175F. If you can hold a stable 250F all through the 11 hours, your internal temp probe should be near 175F. You can over run the 175 to 190F so don’t concern yourself if you do. I always go to 190F for a darker bark (outside crust) and less remaining fats and connective tissue.  The next step is to braise the meat in a baking pan in water so the warmer it is here, the shorter the  braising time will be.

Braising:
Pre heat the oven to 350F.
 I try to plan the smoking process so I am done around 4 or 5 hours before I want to serve the meat. Remove the smoked pastrami to a large roasting  pan with an inch  of hot water in the bottom. Using a double layer of foil, cover and seal the top of the roasting  pan. Place in a pre heated 350F oven to braise and make the meat fork tender. If you removed the meat from the smoker at 175, the braising will take 3 or more hours. If you waited and smoked to an internal temperature of 190F, about 1-1/2 hours or so will do. After 3 hours of braising, check for fork tender. Be sure to check the most lean portion of the meat. The fatty part will be soft regardless.  The problem is that it is hard to check the meat for fork tender and then re cover the top with foil so, do your best. You shouldn’t need to add water if you get a reasonable seal. Once the meat is fork tender, remove from the oven and let it start to cool. If I’m planning to serve right away, I let the meat cool in the pan for about an hour to absorb some juices back in. I’ll set it on a cutting board to cool further and carve on an angle across the grain after it has cooled to warm. This is hard to cut in thin slices so I generally cut ¼ inch or thicker slices. If you simmered it to soft, it will be hard to impossible to cut into small pieces. So wait until the meat has cooled to a nice warm plate temperature before carving with your just sharpened knife.  A stack of smoked Pastrami is the perfect topping to a slice of Jewish Deli Rye bread. Enjoy!

NOTES:
 Notice the photo of 2 slices below. This was cut before the braising was complete. I mistakenly removed the piece and cut a couple slices. Notice how the meat looks like the grain is long.  You have to be very careful to check the bottom of the meat for grain direction and cut across the grain. You would think the grain would be along the longest side but, it usually doesn’t. The first cut should have been on a corner. It makes a big difference in how tender the meat is, pay attention. Notice the end grain in the close up photos.  This is a critical consideration you need to get right. Brisket is a tough stringy meat that becomes soft and deliciously tender when cooked properly AND cut correctly.

One thing to remember. I started with 3 bags of cured corned beef that weighed 12.5 Lbs.. That included the brine. After smoking and braising the total package weighs only 7.5 Lbs. Shrinkage.

Make sure your knife is as sharp as you can get it. Because you are cutting across the grain, I start the cut by drawing back across the piece first so the end doesn’t spit off on the grain. I usually do a better job of cutting stack-able pieces than I did in the close up shot but that’s the idea. I tried to make this clear but if there are questions, fire away.

Enjoy!

Eric

This is to be avoided if possible. Try to find evenly thick pieces.


After soaking they need to be patted dry.


Soaking the excess salt out of the cured Brisket.


After each piece is spiced heavily, they should sit out for a while to warm to room temperature. The spices
will stay on better if you wait a while. Optionally you can wrap them in plastic wrap overnight in the refrigerator.


Loaded and ready to go. The smoker is warmed up to temperature already.


Just a small amount of smoke is all you need. I leave the top vents wide open.


Notice I cut the first slices on the grain and not across the grain. This is a common error.
Be sure to check the grain on the bottom and cut across (at 90 degrees).

 

 

Comments

Yerffej's picture
Yerffej

Wow Eric.............

Rather than undertake this on my own,  you could simply let me know what time dinner is served.  I'll bring the bread.

Jeff

 

CarlSF's picture
CarlSF

Just by reading this blog I have died and went to heaven!  What a post!

Carl

Franko's picture
Franko

From one smoke hound to another ... Bravo! This is great stuff Eric, and thanks for taking the time to post this. I rarely print off a post but something tells me I'll be making this on a regular basis and will want a hard copy nearby till I get the procedure down. The thing that I'm somewhat surprised with is that it starts off with an already cured piece of brisket. I would have thought a scratch start, but this way would save a good deal of time. I don't recall seeing any pre-cured brisket pieces worth buying locally so I may have to do it the hard way. I've got a good book by Jack Sleight on curing and smoking that will fill in that gap for me anyway so no problem. Good call on recommending against mesquite, just too dominating a flavour, as I think straight hickory would be as well. My initial choice would be a blend of say 70% oak and 25% fruit wood (apple or cherry) and maybe 5% hickory to give it a little stank. What do you use, if you don't mind revealing it for all the world to see?

I've been meaning to get a 'set and forget' smoker for years now to supplement the smoker that I use for Q and this is just the excuse I've been looking for to justify it. I'm afraid my days of babysitting a brisket or pork butt for 12 hours + in a manual smoker are coming to an end, but my love of smoked meat is anything but. Might need to make my own pickles as well as long as I'm making the meat and the bread to make this sandwich. Well there you go, I've been looking for a new project to tackle and this is it!

Thanks again Eric for this excellent post.

Cheers pal!

Franko

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Thanks Franko,

I thought I would start off by showing how you can do this the easy way with out having to cure from scratch. A lot of folks have zero experience with curing and it can be touchy getting it right. I don't want to encourage some one to take a chance when they don't have the knowledge or pink salt. Starting with corned beef turns out a great Pastrami really.

I've never made my own garlic pickles but they are well loved here. I might just have to look into that. Glad you enjoyed the post.

Cheers,

Eric

Franko's picture
Franko

This site has so many great recipes coming in daily it's hard to nail down the one that excites me more than all the others. Your Pastrami did it for me buddy! The pre-cured method is a good way to go, the downside being ultimate control over salt and flavour. For myself, if I could find a decent slab of pre-cured brisket I wouldn't think twice about going that way. Your directions for leeching out some, or most of the commercial brine from a prepared brisket are clearly important steps in the process of making Pastrami, and well included for those unfamiliar with this ancient method of preservation. I'm pretty sure I'll have to go scratch if I want to find a good piece of brisket available in my own locale.

I pray that Floyd never adds a BBQ/smoke meat section to TFL. Bread is a passion for me, no doubt, but so is slow food, particularly when it comes to smoke cooking. It'd just be too hard to decide on what to post on if he did that, but the occasional smoked meat recipe is a natural on a site devoted to bread. This 0ne of yours Eric is a keeper as far as I'm concerned.

Franko

 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Thanks Franko. Glad to hear you are inspired. Around these parts every store has a bin of ready to boil corned beef. It's just a matter of finding a piece that has a smaller river of fat running down the center. I have found that the better stores seem to have a better grade.

Eric

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

For contributing your long-awaited instructions for pastrami! 

The Snyder family, in Congress assembled, has designated Glenn as the family pastrami chef. (We couldn't stop him, anyway.) We have a collaborative pastrami on rye affair in the works.

BTW, I have a recipe for the best ever garlic pickles (our mother's), if there is interest. Note: These are technically not pickles, but there's a story behind that which comes with the recipe at no extra charge.

David

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Thanks David, I would love to see the family Pickle recipe.  Glenn is a talented guy, he can find a way to keep from drying it out.

Eric

Franko's picture
Franko

David,

My apologies for jumping in here, but I'd love to know your mother's recipe for her 'best ever garlic pickles' and the story that goes along as well.

The best recipes I've ever encountered are the ones that have been passed down from one generation of a family to the next. The  story behind the pickles completes the picture, and a rare treasure to know for anyone trying to mimic the recipe accurately.

Interested ? Hell yes!

Franko

 

 

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

David should tell the story--and it's a good one--but not as good as the product.  Truly the best not-pickles ever, if you like lots of garlic, salt and spices...and garlic.

I will mention that, though Mom master-minded and supervised the process, they should be called "Snyder Family Garlic Dills", because she always put her homegrown kitchen crew to work with the lug of pickling cukes, the 5-pound box of pickling spice, and the big pile of Dad's homegrown Giant Garlic.

Glenn

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder
GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Thanks, Eric.   Great post with lots of useful detail.

I can't smoke that slow on my Weber grill, but I can keep it around 300.  So mine will only be smoked for about 3-4 hours. I've hickory-smoked brisket that way before and it's not ideal, but it's good.

I'll report on the results.

Glenn

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Hope it is helpful for your family gathering. If you get the spices on early and refrigerate it and do very indirect cooking you should be able to get away with using the Weber. You might want to rotate the meat a few times. The 175-190F range would still apply and the need to braise is what will save you totally. I'll be curious how it turns out. Good luck.

Eric

SylviaH's picture
SylviaH

Thank you Eric, for your recipe...to say the least, just wonderful..it's late and I'm off to bed..but just wanted to say thanks for taking the time..I don't have a smoker but my neighbor across the street does...I'll print out your recipe for her..she's always smoking some wonderful meats...I'll exchange bread, pizza for her smoked meats : )

Sylvia

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Thank you Sylvia.

Exchanging bread for smoked meats sounds like a great idea.

Eric

louie brown's picture
louie brown

For a great tutorial. I was out at "equipment needed: smoker," being in a New York City apartment, but I look forward to following others' results on this thread.

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Thank you for your kind words Louie.

Here is something I haven't tried but it looks like it might work well for your situation. The reviews are good. Upon further reading about this product, I think it is intended for a "Hot Smoke" environment. You might get a similar result by starting on the stove top and finishing in a 250F oven. You could every now and then place the smoker back on the stove to create some smoke and then back in the oven. It's till going to get the braising to tenderize the meat in the end.

It looks like a corned beef Flat would be the perfect shape/size to fit in the unit. Actually I think Thomas Keller has a slightly larger one also. I had forgotten about this product, thank you for reminding me.

Eric

Syd's picture
Syd

An excellent post, Eric.  Very thorough and detailed.  This is something I have been toying with for a while, but haven't really had the time, equipment or space to do.  Buying the already corned meat would definitely be a time saver but it isn't an option for me here as it is not something readily available in the supermarket.  I researched the whole pink salt thing a while back when I was contemplating making some Canadian bacon. 

I have a question: is it really 1 1/8 of a cup of pink salt?  You mentioned 1 tablespoon of pink salt per gallon of water. Your recipe requires 6 gallons which is 6 tablespoons by my reckoning.  Is that equal to 1 1/8 cup?  I only ask because I know from my research that too much of the stuff can be bad, even slightly poisonous. 

Another thought: would a piece of foil wrapped around the thinner piece of an uneven cut prevent it from drying out while the thicker part continued its cooking. 

Your final result looks mouthwateringly delicious.  Disturbingly good.  I can't get the image out of my mind.  I want some and I want it now. 

Syd

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Syd,

Yes I see the conflict in the scaling. The 1-1/8 Cups came from the original recipe and the 1 T per gallon came from the source here in Milwaukee where I bought my supply. I would have to say it would be prudent to ask the place you buy it from for a recommendation. I'll look into it further and let you know what I find out.

As for tenting the thinner part of the cut. That may help somewhat but when you are cooking for 11-12 hours, I don't think foil would slow the cooking down much. Besides it is going to be braised later. The thinner part will be done sooner. Better to look for a piece that is as even as possible. In the end, it's all "Disturbingly good". I like that!

Eric

audra36274's picture
audra36274

   It is 8 a.m. and you have my mouth watering for pastrami ! Great work and a walk through that anyone could follow. Did you ever think about doing a cookbook? You are a great baker and instructor as well. Not every one has the patience to teach. We are lucky to have you! Cookbook? Or even better just open a deli! We'd be lining up by the bus load!

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Thank you Audra. Coming from a Southern Bell like yourself who I KNOW loves slow smoked meats, that's a compliment. Thanks but at this point I'm happy to be able to help a few folks learn the process. No cook books or Deli shops in my future.

Eric

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hello Eric,
Thank you ever so much for posting about how to make this pastrami.
I regret not being able to make it to Kenny and Zuke's while in Portland recently...but maybe sometime I can give your method for making pastrami a try. Looking forward to a taste! The spice rub sounds wonderful.
:^) from breadsong

 

 

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Unless Eric would rather I recount this adventure on my own blog, I'll just describe here my attempt (with inadequate equipment and no experience) to follow (more or less) Eric's instructions.  Eric, let me know if this is too much of a hijack.

This morning I went to Roberts Corned Meats (http://www.robertscornedmeats.com/) to get corned beef brisket.  Roberts is a 101 year old family business in San Francisco, primarily a producer/wholesaler to groceries and restaurants (in fact, I think they've cornered the brisket market).  I have had their corned beef many times, but had never been in their shop.  I asked the nice Latino man in the soiled apron if he sold flats and points separately.  He said he could cut a whole brisket anyway I want.  He brought out a couple 11-12 pound whole corned briskets and asked me to show him what I wanted.  It looked like the flat was about 2/3 of the weight of the whole brisket, so I asked him to separate the point and cut the flat in two so I had more-or-less equal size pieces. For the Snyder clan, I got two whole briskets, six pieces.

He went into the back for 10 minutes and returned with six vacuum-sealed bags of corned meat.  When I got home tonight (after monopolizing the office refrigerator all day), I realized he had not understood my request and he just cut the whole brisket into three pieces, not separating the point first.  Oh well, we'll see what happens.

I rinsed the first batch of meat and am soaking it in ice water.  My electric spice grinder handled the pepper corns and coriander well, and I have a nice bowl of the rub made up.  I'll spice the beasts tonight and refrigerate over night.

I think I'll smoke a couple pieces tomorrow and a couple Sunday to make sure I don't overcrowd my grill.  I have lump charcoal, Apple wood chips and Hickory chips.  I think I'll follow Franko's advice and use only a little of the Hickory.

Though not everything is going right with the Pastrami Experiment, I have 1200 grams of rye sour in its final build and it's acting like it wants to take over the world.

More to come.

Glenn

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

I just baked the two prettiest Jewish Sour Ryes that have ever come out of my oven. But, they're kind of impatient ...

David

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Smart Bombs David?

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

My boules are no fools, but these bâtards are really smart!

David

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Your Rye's tell no lies
but your pane is so lame!

Awaiting the hour when the King of the sour
will place his grand bounty
which you will devour.

The meat will be loose
and will no doubt produce
a grin on the smallest of chins.

So hoist away on this beautiful day
and give thanks to the Snyder beside yer.

haha, unknown author

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Fire away Glenn, I'm anxious to hear how this turns out. Actually having the meat cut into smaller pieces will benefit your purposes. The smaller the pieces the easier it is to get the meat stabilized at an even internal temperature. When it comes to braising, check each piece in a meaty section and remove them as they become tender. Pictures Glenn, pictures.

Eric

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Eric, I will post pictures later, I promise.

It is a foggy day, almost drippy, in SF.  This will help regulate the grill temperature.  I decided to start the fire with briquets.  When they were hot, I spread them on opposites side of the fire grate, with an aluminum pan between.  I layered some lump charcoal on top, and then some soaked wood chips in a foil "basket".  I let the lump charcoal just start to burn, then put two lovely spice-crusted corned briskets in the middle of the cooking grate.  It's hard to measure temperature accurately in a Weber grill, but now, 45 minutes after starting the meat, it feels like around 275 F.  The chips are just smoldering so there isn't a thick cloud of smoke in there, and that's probably good.  Eric, I will definitely turn the meat every 90 minutes or so to keep from charring the edges.  I'm hoping they take 4 or 5 hours to get to 190 F so they're braised and cooled in time for dinner.  Not as low and slow as is ideal, but I'm working with Third World equipment here.

The sour rye bread (Greenstein/dmsnyder formula) has just been mixed and kneaded, and is resting before being loaved.  It feels like the right texture/hydration; it's pretty sticky, but no more so than the last (successful) attempt at this bread.

When I write up a full recipe for Pastrami and Rye, I'll note that one needs to start the fire just before mixing the dough so as to leave adequate time to knead the dough and get the rye mud off your hands before putting the meat on the fire.  Timing is tricky in this sandwich recipe.

Well, I'm off to sculpt some plaster.

Pastrami on Rye Chronicles III - Saturday - 1:30 p.m.

"Low and Slow" is good for smoking meats, not for bread.

The Pastrami has been on the grill for four hours.  It looks beautiful.  The internal temperature (middle of the flat) is 160F.  Should be another 90 minutes or so.  Perfect!

The rye breads looked perfect, too, when they were proofed, but things went down hill from there.  I'm baking three batards, totaling 2400 grams.  I should have known that's too much dough for my ancient (30+ year old) oven and stone at one time.  The formula says bake 35 to 45 minutes at 375 F.  I preheated the oven and stone well, but either my oven is even worse than I thought and/or all that cold dough sucked up the heat from the stone.  In any case, the loaves are taking forever (well, 80 minutes so far) to bake.  I tented them with foil so the tops don't burn.  They have bursted both at the scores and elsewhere.  These won't be the prettiest rye breads (nowhere near as pretty as David's impatient loaves), but I still have hopes that they will be good to eat...eventually.  I figure that in those Northern European villages' shared community hearths, our ancestors managed to make good rye bread in a cooling oven.  

I wouldn't have to worry about "low and slow" baking if I had a modern convection oven.  Oh, Santa.

Better go check the loaves.

Glenn

 

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

...lemme now exclaim wowee Eric! Great post, and great pics.

We have one of these 'reality' cooking shows called Masterchef Australia in progress at the moment. One of the few worthwhile aspects of this otherwise bullshit celeb cook and product promo fest has been a week spent in New York. In amongst the arty farty molecular gastro cheffy nonsense, they did cover some of the iconic trad NY  hotspots that particularly interest me.: Grimaldi's Pizzeria, Russ and Daughters, Carnegie Deli, Sylvia's in Harlem. The owner of Carnegie was featured making a Rueben Sandwich, which was excessive in every way and looked lethal from a cardiac POV, but was off the scale in the drool factor. As you guys would know, this sandwich has a pound of pickled cured corned beef in it (think I've got that right) - not quite pastrami, but a close relative. So, seems the forces are combining to usher in pastrami season, whichever hemisphere you live in! And you, Eric, are le grande season-toller!

Cheers!
Ross

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Ross--

The cured and smoked meats at Carnegie (they make their own) are exceptional.  But Russ & Daughters (http://russanddaughters.com/) is a different--and very special--place: it's a milchedik deli, no meat.  They specialize in smoked fish and caviar.  The have a huge variety of Jewish-deli-style smoked fish and it's the best I've ever had.

In the small world category, the son of the oldest of Russ's daughters is a good friend of mine, Marty Pulvers.  Until he "retired' to the business of selling estate pipes over the web, Marty owned the best cigar and pipe shop in San Francisco.  I was a regular customer, and hung out there during many lunch hours.  Marty is among the best story-tellers I ever met.  And many of his stories had to do with his youth at his mother's deli.  He grew up, as he puts it, with his arms in the pickle barrel.

Now Marty's cousins run Russ & Daughters.  If you get to the Lower East Side of Manhattan, you must stop in.  Try the white fish salad.

Glenn

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

Carnegie and Russ & Daughters have already assumed fabled status for me, and will certainly be top of my must-visits when I make it to NY. However, your personal touches here have enhanced the legend. You know, from "the son of the oldest etc..." your middle paragraph has a novelistic American story-telling quality to it. I can 'hear' your voice like the voiceover in a movie, and can imagine this para as the opening of a novel or short story.

Cheers!
Ross
PS: There is now NO WAY I will miss the white fish salad at R&D's. You'd know what I'm talking about, as a fellow food obsessive.

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

...about the days at Sherlock's Haven, Marty's shop.  I'm not sure I'm the one to write them.  There were some truly picturesque characters in that place, and many of them are now good friends of mine.

Thanks for your kind comment about my little portrait of Marty.  I've read some great story-tellers: Mark Twain, O. Henry, John Steinbeck, S.J. Perlman.  But, it's the spoken stories told by talented narrators like Marty and my mother that inform my own story-telling.

I've always admired your writing, too, Ross.

Glenn

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

I sent my pal Marty an email about this discussion, with a link.  He enjoyed it and, in his reply, he--of course--told a story of his mother's own deli on Long Island, which she opened after she left Russ & Daughters (named "South Shore Appetizers", but everybody called it "Ida's").  Ida's served both meat and fish.  Marty says that, as a young man, he never understood why people made such a fuss about the Carnegie and Stage delis, when the food at his mother's place  was so much better.  

By the way, I got part of my story wrong. His mother was not the eldest, she was the middle of Joel Russ's three daughters.

Glenn

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Sounds like you had a great time in some of NY's better spots. For years, I have been a fan of corned beef.I used to run a corporate charter service where we flew all of Milwaukee's big cheeses around the country. We offered a lunch or dinner service and great corned beef sandwiches were on the menu. I would never disclose the source and we got repeat business who demanded the CB sammies. Just recently I learned to prepare the Pastrami and wouldn't consider myself the expert. I learned my lessons the masters.

Eric

rossnroller's picture
rossnroller

I haven't been to NY - yet! It's a plan, but not a firm one - yet!

Great to see the Snyder boys so quickly into action...fana-bloody-tastic that you can cure and smoke your own pastrami so easily and inexpensively. And by the sound - and look - of things, the results are well worth the effort. Well done all!

Cheers
Ross

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

And maybe of the best I’ve ever had.  Eric, you are the Smoke Master!  Kudos to Kenny and Zuke’s for a great recipe, and your detailed instructions and advice were very valuable…even if I didn’t exactly follow it all.

I smoked the meat for about five hours and then braised for three.  Cooled for 90 minutes, and ate a very large sandwich on my unattractive but delicious deli rye, with spicy mustard and an excellent fermented cucumber (Bubbie’s brand).  This is the perfect food for someone who loves smoke, salt and spice, each in just a wee bit beyond moderation. 

The recommendation about soaking out some of the salt was a good one.  It’s plenty salty.  And using fruit wood chips was the right move; it’s just slightly smoky.  It tastes just like real New York Deli Pastrami.  Also, the smoking and braising released the vast majority of the fat…of course, much of it was released into the meat, where it belongs.  Yummm!

My sour rye bake today was not perfect (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/24318/greenstein’s-sour-rye-–-low-and-slow), but the bread tastes real good as a Pastrami conveyance..

Here are some pictures, as promised.

Here’s my Weber grill set up as a smoker, with the meat just put on.  Note the starting size of the brisket pieces.

The next ones are after about two hours…and most of the shrinkage.

And here (tada!!) is the finished product.

And the Pastrami consumption vehicle par excellence.

And the all-important accompaniments.


I have just put the rub on two more hunks of corned brisket for smoking tomorrow.  Gotta have enough for the upcoming Snyderfest.  Nothing more dangerous than an underfed Snyder (or so I hear…I’ve never actually seen one).

Glenn

Franko's picture
Franko

Hi Glenn,

I've looked and drooled over this gorgeous  hunk of slow cooked brisket during my breaks today, but a phone screen simply doesn't do it justice. Nice cooking! I'm still trying to find a thick cut of brisket similar to yours but so far no luck. I'll use what I have regardless, starting tomorrow with getting it brined now that the pink salt I ordered has arrived. Hopefully next week I'll have the pleasure of sinking my teeth into a great looking pastrami sandwich just like the one you made.

Franko

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

I think your Pastrami will come out fine.  Just watch the meat temperature.

Good luck and post pictures.

Glenn

ehanner's picture
ehanner

That turned out pretty well. Did you braise the larger piece longer than the smaller one? If you didn't quite get the same "fork tender", you can go back and braise a little longer until they are all equally tender. That's an important end result adjustment that makes the difference of just really good or fantastic. It is worth giving yourself the extra time to get it right.

The Dills look interesting. Never have seen the brand.

Eric

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Both pieces seemed tender.  The larger one is going to our family get-together.  I suspect we'll slice it and briefly warm the sliced meat, so I think it'll be fine.

By the way, since this meat is so well salted and smoked, I assume I can wrap it tightly and refrigerate it for a week before use without poisoning anybody.  Or do you think I should freeze it?

Bubbie's is a San Francisco company, but their products (pickles and sauerkraut) are at Whole Foods.   They are the next best to Mama Snyder's.

Thanks, again.

Glenn

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I sliced and froze the last batch in a zip-lock. In theory you should be OK for a week but just to be sure I would freeze it. BTW for corned beef and pastrami I thaw at room temp followed by wrapping in plastic wrap and warming at a medium low setting on the microwave until it's warm through out. No loss of freshness.

Eric

dmsnyder's picture
dmsnyder

The pastrami looks wonderful! My rye breads will be so happy hugging that meat! 

Eric: Bubbies is a local brand - out of Stockton, CA (not San Francisco) - but they distribute nationally. Their web site (Bubbies Pickles) has helpful information on distribution. These are close enough to our mother's garlic dills I'm not sure I could tell them apart in a blind tasting.

David

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Thanks David. I'll have to look for them next trip to WF or Trader Joe's. We like dills.

Eric

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

I smoked two more hunks of corned brisket today.  Smoked 6 hours, braised 2 hours.   Though the vast quantity of Pastrami I made is mostly for next weekend, I had to give my creation a fair trail.  So, for breakfast we had some in a Pastrami Scramble with scallions and Jarlsberg cheese (with Rye toast, of course).

And for dinner, a baked sandwich I've named a "Rubensesque"--Rye bread, spicy mustard, hot Pastrami, sliced not-pickles and Jarlsberg.  

Whew!!  I am one happy deli-lover!!  But, enough! 

The rest of the Pastrami gets sliced and frozen for Snyderfest.

Tomorrow I eat fruit and yogurt, washed down with water.

Thanks, again, Eric.

Glenn

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Great looking sandwich Glenn. I found a local source for for the Bubbies pickles today. They didn't have the garlic dill in stock but the restock is next week. So, I was forced to pick up  a jar of Nathens Pickles. Those are great also. Life is good eh.

Eric

moma's picture
moma

Hi Glenn

I must say - nearly finishing my breakfast - your picture looks delicious! Im ready for lunch now ;)

Good thing Im heading to the grocery store to pick up flour anyways. Must add pickles to my list. 

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Well, the Snyder Family seemed to genuinely love the Pastrami.  The evidence is that 7-8 pounds of Pastrami disappeared without a trace, as did some significant quantity of corned beef, potato salad, cole slaw and pickles, and 3 1/2 loaves of Rye bread.

The Pastrami did re-heat nicely in a microwave, on a plate, covered with waxed paper.  No noticeable diminution in delectableness.

Thanks, again, Eric.  

It won't be next week, but I will make this again.

Glenn 

Franko's picture
Franko

 Hi Glenn,

I was able to get my own pastrami done last night and hoping to get a post up tomorrow sometime. The deli rye was baked this AM but I'm not crazy about it, and will do a re-bake tomorrow morning. Having had a taste or two of the Hanner Pastrami already, I can understand how 8 lbs of it vanished during the family get-together. The coriander seed/pepper rub in combination with the smoke is out of this world!

Franko

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Glad to hear it went well. It pleases me to know others have had success with the process as it needs to be passed on to others. I'm looking forward to seeing some photos.

Eric

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