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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 09-17-2012, 05:16 AM   #1
Tatoosh
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Default Pastrami Questions

I want to try making pastrami pretty soon. So right now I'm looking at brisket, a dry cure, then smoking. I know that corned beef is often done with a brine, but I prefer to use a dry cure if possible. However I'd like to end up with those nice thin slices you see piled up in photos of deli pastrami sandwiches, not chunks of meats.

I am concerned with what wood to use. I almost always smoke with hickory, but some folks find it a bit much. I have some shredded cherry and some apple chips available as well. Would one or both of those be a better choice for smoking?

Any pastrami experience out there folks are willing to share?
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Unread 09-17-2012, 05:47 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tatoosh View Post
I want to try making pastrami pretty soon. So right now I'm looking at brisket, a dry cure, then smoking. I know that corned beef is often done with a brine, but I prefer to use a dry cure if possible.
I am not saying it can't be done, but "Corned Beef" is traditionally done in a brine. It is because of the brine that the spices are able to impart the flavor into the meat.

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Originally Posted by Tatoosh View Post
However I'd like to end up with those nice thin slices you see piled up in photos of deli pastrami sandwiches, not chunks of meats.
I think slices vs chunks has to do with how you decide to cut the meat.

I have always sliced mine without any problems.
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Unread 09-17-2012, 06:34 AM   #3
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Pastrami is nothing more than corned beef that's been smoked. I like to corn the point of a brisket and then do a soak out after the brining process, dry rub and then smoke it. Another technique, if you have a steam pot available big enough is to smoke it for 4 to 5 hours and then steam it for a few more. It makes it very tender so even if you slice it by hand and it's a little thick, it will still melt in your mouth.
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Unread 09-17-2012, 06:53 AM   #4
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I use packaged corned beef because it is cheaper than fresh brisket. Go figger.
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Unread 09-17-2012, 07:10 AM   #5
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For sure try the apple or cherry woods but just one at a time. Either are much 'liter' then hickory.
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Unread 09-17-2012, 08:07 AM   #6
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Cool, thanks for the advice. Iammadman, I ran into a pastrami recipe that called for a dry cure roughly 6 to 7 days over at TVWBB and thought I would try that. The corned beef in a brine takes weeks and I don't want to wait that long. Bad me. If I get the right pickling spices for corned beef together, I'll think about giving the brine a try. I thought the brine was possibly responsible for the texture of the pastrami that is sliced so thin at the delis. But if I can do it with a dry cure, I'll go for that first.

This is a photo of the sort of pastrami I want, it is from Sadie Katz Deli, NOT mine:


CarolinaQue, by steam pot do you mean pressure cooker? I have a couple of those and can configure the brisket/pastrami to fit if necessary.

CaptnDan, along with the pride of making my own is the fact that in the little corner of the Philippines I inhabit, corned beef and pastrami are pretty much unheard of. Or at least unobtainable without a 6 hour bus ride down to Manila. Lazy me wants to avoid the 12 hours of riding up and down the mountain.

NCGuy68, do recommend one over the other? I'm guessing I will give the apple a try first. Cherry arrived in shreds while the apple is in chips. I use hickory chips most of the time so that will be fairly familiar.
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Unread 09-17-2012, 08:42 AM   #7
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I usually just get one of those corned brisket points and smoke it for a few hours until it's about 165* or so, then slice it really thin. Good stuff!
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Unread 09-17-2012, 09:13 AM   #8
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you might check http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/10/barbecue-pastrami-recipe.html
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Unread 09-17-2012, 10:31 AM   #9
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To answer your questions, hickory might be a tad strong - I would go with a mellower wood like pecan, oak, apple, or cherry. You can read about my most recent pastrami cook HERE.

We used an electric rotary slicer to get nice thin slices:





We also steamed the slices before we built the sandwiches. Makes a huge difference.
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Unread 09-17-2012, 10:32 AM   #10
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I know it's not what you're asking, but I did Alton Brown's corned beef for St Paddy's day this year, and it was outstanding. I bought my first smoker a few months later. Otherwise I'd have done Pastrami for sure
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Unread 09-17-2012, 10:36 AM   #11
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No...I'm talking about a pot you can boil pasta or other things in that has an insert with holes in it that sits an inch or two up off of the bottom of the pot so you can steam things in it also.
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Unread 09-18-2012, 09:30 AM   #12
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Tatoosh I feel your pain. Good luck.
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Unread 09-18-2012, 12:06 PM   #13
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I bought a corned beef brisket to break in my mini wsm this past weekend. It was on sale so I jumped. That dry cure recipe on tvwbb looks interesting though.

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Unread 09-18-2012, 01:54 PM   #14
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Like you, I did not want to purchase a pre-cured piece of brisket. I've read a LOT about the comparison between wet-aging and dry-aging. Dry aging only takes a few days. Wet-aging can take up to a month and based on several experiences - does not yield as good of a texture as the dry aging process.

I wrote an article about a dry-aged pastrami on my website: http://thepiglebowski.com/?p=48

BTW, the best way to steam it at the end is using a turkey fryer full of water. And the best way to slice it is to buy a non-commercial electric slicer (like they use in the deli) - it will cost you around $100.

Good luck!
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Unread 09-18-2012, 01:59 PM   #15
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Moose,
You are still my hero man. That sammy looks so farking good. I had one at Katz and Carnegie Deli and they were not as awesome looking as yours.

BOT I use cheap ole packaged corned beefs that I pick up on sale after St. Paddies day. I do prefer the point to the flat..........fattier is bettier.
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