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Pastrami v. Smoked Meat (Recipes Please!)

The Nid Hog

Moderator Emeritus
I feel like I've got the hang of corned beef now, so I thought I'd try to take it back to the smoker next. Before I start, Do you guys have any favorite recipes for pastrami, or for its fraternal twin, Montreal smoked meat? What about the virtues of dry v. wet cure? Just smoking or smoking & steaming?
 
I feel like I've got the hang of corned beef now, so I thought I'd try to take it back to the smoker next. Before I start, Do you guys have any favorite recipes for pastrami, or for its fraternal twin, Montreal smoked meat? What about the virtues of dry v. wet cure? Just smoking or smoking & steaming?
I was going to try Pastrami next as well! In for the info - thanks guys.
 

ChefJohnBoy-ardee

Contributor
Wet vs dry is all personal preference. Some recipes you will like more. The only way to really know is to experiment.

In the end you end up with smoked tasty bits! :D
 

jwhite

Moderator Emeritus
Not familiar with Montreal smoked meat but I cure my own beef for corned beef and pastrami pretty regularly. Just take your beef out of the cure rinse and pat dry. Let sit coverd in the fridge overnight than coat lightly with oil and good crust of coarsely crushed coriander and peppercorns and into the smoker - red peppercorns make a nice addition to the mix and the natural oiliness of them adds to the crust as well as a nice presentation. I lean on the peppercorns a little instead of a straight 50/50 mix and like to use use mostly oak with some maple to cut it for wood on corned beef, Cherry can bring out the sweetness and offer a little lighter smoke. If I'm curing specifically for pastrami I occasionally lean a little heavier on the allspice and chillies in the brine.
 

Jim

Moderator
Well I have some thoughts, how helpful is debatable at the least! I claim no expert status here simply practical experience.

All of these types of foods have their roots in poverty, the cheapest cuts of meat preserved for the longest period of time. Many spices where used to either prevent insect infestation or to cover the latter stages of "aging" before sale.

The corned beef is pretty well documented here at the B&B so I don't think that needs to be part of the discussion here in this thread.

Pastrami is a beef cut, predominantly a full packer brisket which has been cured in mostly salt with saltpeter or nitrates (pink salt). This treatment changes the texture and composition of the cells in the meat, these changes have an effect on the flavor as well as the meats ability to support organisms that cause the meat to de-compose.

The Montreal smoked meat as I understand it is basically a brisket that has been brined /marinated before hot smoking, not cured as a Pastrami is.

So how do I make a Pastrami?

  • Start with a corned beef. Either one you made yourself or a store bought one.
  • Soak in plain water overnight, Dry and slather with cheap mustard.
  • Rub Meat with spice mixture.
  • Hot smoke at 235-250 until a probe passes into the meat with no resistance, 195-205 degrees. The area where the flat meets the point is the last place to be done. I use white oak for wood.
  • Slice thinly and serve


To hold the meat or to reheat it for serving later, place in a colander on a pot of just bubbling water cover loosely and hold till ready to serve.

Spice mixture- feel free to mix it up.

Pastrami rub
4T Pepper
1t coriander
1t granulated garlic
1t granulated onion
1/2 t thyme
1t paprika
1 t juniper berries

Toast and grind spices med.
 
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jwhite

Moderator Emeritus
I've never soaked mine, other than removing some of the salt what does it do for the brisket. Might try that on my next go.
 

Jim

Moderator
I've never soaked mine, other than removing some of the salt what does it do for the brisket. Might try that on my next go.
It does leach some salt out of the meat, the salt has done its work by this point. On commercial corned beefs I have soaked for up to 5 days, but saw no benefit after 3 days.
 
I've subscribed to this thread because I've wanted to make my own pastrami for a while. As it is I have to drive to LA or fly to NY to get proper pastrami. The book I have on delis, which is called Save The Deli by David Sax doesn't have any recipes. He does describe how most of them make their pastrami and all of my favorite delis seem to make it from navel, not brisket. I had never heard of navel before and I'm not sure what the difference is. Anyone?
 

Alacrity59

Wanting for wisdom
Moderator Emeritus
From my point of view pastrami is very close to Montreal Smoked Meat. I've written here about Smoked Meat before with a bit more of what I understand about the process . . . but one of the main points I think is that it is brined for a longer period . . . three weeks then hung and cold smoked. The big taste for me is the pepper that gets infused into the meat. Montreal steak spice is derived from the spices used for Montreal Smoked meat. Call it rumour, internet nonsense, etc. but some of the folk working on the smoked beef started selling a mix of spices to make a few bucks on the side.

So . . . I think Jim nailed this above. The pictures I recall were of the briskets in a room full of whiskey barrels. Ah well . . . . the quest continues.
 
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