In an effort to expand my cooking horizons, I decided to attempt to make Pastrami. Armed with Ruhlman’s recipe, from Charcuterie I ordered a half brisket (about 5 pounds) from Richardson Farms.
The week before I was to begin this 6 day process, I had lunch at Easy Tiger, and we ordered corned beef and pastrami, so I could remember how it was to taste. Both at Easy Tiger were well spiced, and I could pick out clove, allspice and mustard, (I thought). Both were delicious.
The day before I was begin the brining process, I made the pickling spice, which included Mace, Allspice, toasted and ground Coriander and Mustard, Pepper, Clove, Red Pepper Flakes, Cinnamon, Bay and Ground Ginger. Savory Spice Shop on 6th Street had everything I needed.
The following day, I made the brine, 1 gallon water, 1 cup salt, 1/2 cup sugar, 5 teaspoons pink salt, and garlic. The recipe called for 2 tablespoons of the pickling spice, but I used 3. I brought the liquid up to a simmer to dissolve the salt and sugar, then put the pot in the refrigerator to cool. You don’t want to put raw brisket into hot liquid.
Once the liquid was cooled completely, I dropped the brisket into the pot (a steamer pot) and put the top steamer rack on top of it to keep it submerged. Then I put the pot with brisket and brine into the fridge, where it stayed for 6 days. On the 6th day, I pulled the brisket out and rinsed it thoroughly, then placed it back in the fridge on a cookie sheet, uncovered, to dry out a little.
The following day, I pulled it out of the fridge, and coated the whole brisket in cracked pepper and crushed coriander.
Next, it went into a 225 degree smoker for close to 3 hours.
From there, the brisket went into a roasting pan with one inch of water, into a 275 degree oven (covered) for about 2 hours. The water was supposed to simmer, but we had a hard time getting it to that point. We pulled it out and allowed it to rest for about an hour.
At this point, it didn’t look any different than a peppered brisket. I was very interested to cut into it and see if it worked. And, it looked like Pastrami! I didn’t slice it thinly enough, but it tasted like Pastrami, too. I couldn’t detect the spices as much as I had hoped, so next time I will use more of the pickling spice. It could have been more tender as well, so I think more time in the oven would be beneficial, to take on more steam.
All in all, I’m calling it a success, although I will do those things differently next time.