Monday, July 8, 2013

10-Day Pastrami

This past weekend for a family reunion, I cured and smoked my first pastrami.  I didn't have a Bullet Smoker but instead improvised using an ordinary charcoal grill.  The results were really good - a juicy thick-cut smoked brisket with ruby red crust.  The only change I would make would be to go from a 6-day cure to a 10-day cure (I bought my brisket too close to the event).  Here is some advice if you want to try it at home using your own charcoal grill.

First follow the curing method used by Noah Bernamoff in the Mile End Deli Cookbook.  The briskets he smokes are likely larger than what you will buy, so scale down the amount of dry cure and rub ingredients accordingly.  (A couple of notes on his curing method: 1) I would also drop the the garlic as a necessary precaution unless you don't mind your fridge reeking of garlic for ten days.  You can add as much garlic as you like in your final rub - I used about four minced cloves for a 3-pound brisket.  2) I would add more sugar in your cure than he calls for, and I would use about half brown sugar.  3) Assuming you did not oversalt the brisket, it's not necessary to soak the brisket in water for 4 hours prior to smoking as Bernamoff does.  A simple rinse will suffice.)

Once you have prepped the cured brisket for smoking, add about fifteen coals to the grill and alight.  Wait until the grill gets down to a temperature of 250 degrees, then place the coals to the side of the grill.  Add four soaked wood chips to the coals.  Place the grill rack back on, brush lightly with oil, then add the brisket on the side without the coals (so it cooks by indirect heat), fatty side down.

In about an hour, the temperature will decrease to 200 degrees, so when 45 minutes have elapsed, start six coals burning in a separate container (I used an old clay flowerpot).  When the coals are hot and covered with ash, add to the already-burning coals and add another four soaked wood chips on top.  Make sure to clean out your ash catcher from time to time so that that the coals are ventilated and can receive oxygen.  Repeat this process for about six hours until the brisket feels firm to the touch (like a medium/medium well burger).  The internal temp will be about 160 degrees.

Remove the brisket and place in a steam tray and steam for about two hours until fork-tender.  Serve immediately, cutting the brisket into slices across the grain.

Further Reading on Pastrami:

No comments:

Post a Comment