When corned beef time came upon us I wondered about making pastrami and spent a few of days researching the subject.
I started off buying a couple of corned beef packages at the standard St. Patrick’s Day discount rate - $3.80 (1.91 lb.) for the Freirich and $4.86 (2.57 lb.) for the Reddi Gourmet. I rinsed them off and started soaking and rinsing them on Thursday morning and I changed the water about every 6 ~ 9 hours. On Sunday there was still a little color to the water. I dried them off with paper towels.
This is what they looked like before the rinse & soak routine:
This is what they looked like after 72 hours of soaking & rinsing:
I used around 55% fresh ground pepper 45% fresh ground coriander rub with an even but not heavy sprinkling of granulated garlic. (Space in between the granules) I took the pictures before I sprinkled the garlic powder on them.
Fired up the water smoker using Royal Oak brand charcoal and then started smoking at 11:15 on Sunday with the fat sides down. 3 hours fat side down then I turned them over. First smoke was the last of my mesquite save for a large chunk. The rest (At 1 hr. intervals) were hickory with the chunk of mesquite added to the last smoke
Applied hickory chips every hour for 8 hours. On the day before smoking I drilled out the smoker’s top and installed a new thermometer. High temp was 225 degrees and average temp was 200 degrees.
This is the Freidrich after 5 hours:
This is the Reddi Gourmet after 5 hours. Refilled the water pan at this point.
When I removed the pastramis from the smoker (Shown here) the interior temperatures were: Top grill (Freirich), 135 degrees and Bottom grill, (Reddi Gourmet) – 159 degrees.
Those are 4 store-bought Windmill (NJ) brand hot dogs that I smoked for the last hour to try and make them actually have some flavor. It worked. The added smoke overcame the very weak baloney flavor and some of the heavy saltiness.
Shrinkage, or you could call it a consolidation of resources.
Then I steamed them for 3 hours. Got this idea from the Food Channel that showed a segment on how the Carnegie Deli makes pastrami at their Carlstadt, NJ plant. Talk about serendipity, they aired this show after I had spent around 10 hours researching how to do this!
This is the Freirich pastrami compared to store bought Best brand
pastrami (The same Best that makes the hot dogs):
Lessons learned for converting corned beef to pastrami:
Use better charcoal
Use a little more garlic
Use less pepper and more coriander
Smoke (add wood chips) more often over a shorter time to possibly lessen shrinkage
Try the plate cut (If I can find one) or
Start with a large brisket and brine or cure it myself
Trim more fat off
I compared the taste of my pastrami to the Best brand pastrami that I bought at a supermarket deli and found that my pastrami is (How can I say this with make believe humility……?), so far superior that it’s ridiculous. It’s a real treat and definitely worth the trouble!
<message edited by Food_Fan on Tue, 03/24/09 6:52 AM>