In Curing and Smoking Made at Home (Firefly Books, 2012) by Dick and James Strawbridge, readers will learn new ways to smoke their own meat at home. There are a variety of meats and ways to process each variety. Find this excerpt in chapter 6, “Hot-Smoking.”
Pastrami is actually cured beef brisket cooked in spices, hot smoked and then steam cooked. Making your own pastrami is a fairly time-consuming process. However, once you’ve tasted the homemade version, you’ll find that store-bought pastrami just doesn’t compare. Our recipe gives a pastrami that is both sweet and spicy, smoky and succulent.
Preparing the Brisket
Follow the brined brisket process and soak for 5 days. Then replace the brine with a sweeter mixture – 400g (13 ounces) each of sugar and salt dissolved in 4 litres (7 pints) of water – for another 5 days. Remove the brisket from the brine and pat it dry with papertowels. Vigorously massage the spice rub mixture into the brisket, trying to get as much to stick to the meat as possible.
Hot Smoking the Brisket
Hot-smoke the brisket to an internal temperature of 70°C (160°F). If it is too hot to comfortably touch, you know you are on track, but if you want to be extra careful you can use a meat thermometer. You can smoke the brisket by cooking it in any covered barbecue. Try to keep the temperature low and steady so that the cooking takes as long as possible, and keep adding handfuls of sawdust or wood chips to the fire to keep it smoky. Arrange the brisket on a piece of heavy-duty foil to reduce direct heat and still allow smoke to circulate. Turn regularly and cook for 2–3 hours with the lid on.
Finishing It Off
Put the smoked brisket on a rack over a deep roasting pan with about an inch of boiling water in the bottom. Build a foil hat around it and pinch the edges together. Keep as much free space around the meat as possible for the steam to circulate. Cook in a preheated oven at 120˚C (250˚F) for 3 hours. After the allotted time, you should be able to easily slide a fork into the brisket. Once ready, slice the meat thinly across the grain while it’s still hot and serve warm, sandwiched between slices
of rye bread.
A Spice Rub for Pastrami
- For 1 kg (2 pounds) beef brisket
- 45 ml (3 tablespoons) coarsely ground black peppercorns
- 5 ml (1 teaspoon) crushed garlic
- 30 ml (2 tablespoons) ground coriander seeds
- 15 ml (1 tablespoon) smoked paprika
- 5 ml (1 teaspoon) red pepper flakes
- Crush the peppercorns, garlic and coriander seeds with a mortar and pestle, keeping the texture coarse. Add the paprika and chilli flakes.
How to Make Pastrami
- Cure the brisket in brine for 5 days, then replace the brine with a sweeter mixture – equal parts sugar and salt dissolved in water – for a further 5 days. Remove from the brine.
- Pat the brisket dry with papertowels and massage the spice rub into the surface of the meat. Hot-smoke the brisket for 2–3 hours, turning it regularly.
- Put the smoked brisket on a rack over a deep roasting pan with about an inch of boiling water in the bottom.
- Build a foil hat around the roasting pan and seal up by pinching the edges together. Cook in a preheated oven at 120˚C (250˚F)for 3 hours.
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