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The Great Pastrami & Smoked Meat Experiment

Charcuterie

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250 replies to this topic

#61 Chef Fowke

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Posted 29 August 2003 - 01:36 AM

It takes time to cure beef. A lot of time. I have been very good and not looked at the meat everyday. I did check it today and we are almost ready to smoke the brisket....

The colour is a beautiful pink. The saltpeter worked. I tasted a corner and the salt is strong but not over-powering. I am going to take the meat out tomorrow, rinse it and soak it in fresh water for 24 hours.
It will then be pressed with the peppercorn/coriander on Saturday and I will smoke it for 6 - 8 hours (internal temperature of 160f).
Monday will be the day of truth. I will steam it...

I will apologize now for not having photos of the different stages of this process. I bought a very, very expensive digital camera from Fuji in the spring and it has spent most of its time in the shop getting 'adjusted'/fixed. I pick it up tomorrow and I will start taking some photos.

I have some friends standing by for Tuesday tasting (Fat guy; I will figure out a way to get you a piece to sample).

What are the criteria we are going to judge the meat by? Should we all agree on twenty points that need to be present in a great piece of pastrami?

I will do the first tasting with my 'foodie' friends and we will critic the meat. From here I will go back to the drawing board and develop a new recipe for the next batch. I will open the tasting to the eGullet public for this tasting in early October.
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#62 Fat Guy

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Posted 29 August 2003 - 06:35 AM

A few tasting criteria off the top of my head:

- Should be exceptionally tender, but not to the point of actually falling apart. In other words, it is possible to overcook pastrami.

- Smoke flavor should be readily identifiable but not to the point that it overpowers the other flavors.

- Seasonings should be well integrated, not just sitting on the exterior.

- Should be "juicy" -- marbled fat and collagen should have broken down and made the meat moist -- but not fatty (there shouldn't be big hunks of actual fat); this is a question of butchering as well as cooking, so it's not 100% a taste criterion.

- Moderate saltiness.

- It should "taste like pastrami." In other words, it shouldn't taste like corned beef and it shouldn't taste like just a smoked brisket.

Some things aren't matters of ranking but, rather, should just be observed. For example there are a lot of legitimate spice blends. The important thing is to note their characteristics.
Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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#63 Chef Fowke

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Posted 30 August 2003 - 01:38 AM

I coated the beef tonight with a very aromatic crust (I initially started cracking all the ingredients by hand! It only took five minutes until I grabbed a coffee grinder to complete the job :blink: ).

70% black peppercorns
20% coriander seeds
5 % white peppercorns
5% mustard seed
10 bay leaves (pulverized)
5 Serrano peppers (pulverized)

The meat is now under 100lbs of weight (strip loins for the weekend) getting compressed. Tomorrow I will smoke the brisket for 6 hours or until it reaches 160f.

I will then press it until Tuesday. It will then steam it for 3 hours and I will do the initial tasting (with photos). I have already picked out the rye bread from my local Lebanese baker.

I have yet to be able to procure a plate. The non-existent Mad Cow scare has made it impossible to find different cuts of beef in this province. As soon as it is available I will do a dry cure and test the complexities of the pastrami with this
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#64 Jinmyo

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Posted 30 August 2003 - 02:19 AM

Brian, just letting you know that although there is little posting on this thread that does not mean that there is little interest.

We are all just waiting.
"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

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#65 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 30 August 2003 - 08:27 AM

Brian, just letting you know that although there is little posting on this thread that does not mean that there is little interest.

We are all just waiting.

*nods*

=R=
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#66 fifi

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Posted 30 August 2003 - 08:39 AM

Just check out the number of views versus replies. The percentage of replies is a LOT lower than most threads.

We are indeed waiting with bait breath. Oh... that is baited breath. (What a stupid expression.)
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

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#67 fresco

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Posted 30 August 2003 - 08:43 AM

Just check out the number of views versus replies. The percentage of replies is a LOT lower than most threads.

We are indeed waiting with bait breath. Oh... that is baited breath. (What a stupid expression.)

It is a dumb expression, isn't it--and until I looked it up, didn't really understand where it came from:

http://www.quinion.c.../qa/qa-bat1.htm
Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"

#68 TrishCT

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Posted 30 August 2003 - 08:45 AM

I haven't posted on this before but find this project incredibly interesting. Looking forward to the juicy results! :smile:

#69 fifi

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Posted 30 August 2003 - 09:07 AM

fresco... That is a really cool site! I'll probably even send the guy a donation. I am always wondering about words.

Ain't it amazing what you can learn on eGullet.

Back to pastrami.
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

#70 wesza

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Posted 30 August 2003 - 10:52 AM

Brian: In Vancover. any Kosher Butcher, should be able to get you "Navel Plates", as it a standard forequarter cut, and many butchers still purchase whole quarters. Very often it's utilized in trimmings for ground beef. Any Kosher Packer or Meat Supplier, who breaks ribs from forequarters can also sell generally at reasonable prices the whole plate, that contains the brisket, and the navel. This is often used in Vancovers Ethinic neighborhoods, Portugesse, Italian or Asian as Belly Beef, Brisket Stew or other nanes. Since Beef Bacon has become popular, the Plates are the cut used for this as well. Hope this makes it easier to obtain. The Whole Plate, is what remains when Whole Ribs are broken at the Meat Saw from the Forequarter, when the whole Rib section is cut at the bone. Irwin
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#71 jhlurie

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Posted 30 August 2003 - 12:22 PM

Just check out the number of views versus replies. The percentage of replies is a LOT lower than most threads.

We are indeed waiting with bait breath. Oh... that is baited breath. (What a stupid expression.)

1560+ views. That's no joke. :wink: I'll bet it will break 2000 within a week or two.

I'm no expert, but I'm thinking about Fat Guy's criteria and they seem mostly on. Another important warning is that Pastrami CAN be overspiced. Heck, a lot of bad Pastrami is probably guilty of this--it becomes more about the crap on the outside than the meat. This may seem slightly at odds with Steven's "it shouldn't taste like just a smoked brisket" point, but all I'm really saying is that there is a happy medium somewhere.
Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

#72 Fat Guy

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Posted 30 August 2003 - 01:03 PM

Isn't there supposed to be garlic involved somewhere along the line in the creation of pastrami? Or am I confused on that point?
Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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#73 Chef Fowke

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Posted 30 August 2003 - 02:56 PM

Isn't there supposed to be garlic involved somewhere along the line in the creation of pastrami? Or am I confused on that point?

I used whole garlic in the wet brine. I have read recipes that call for the meat being rubbed with whole garlic before the crust is applies and smoked.
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#74 Chef Fowke

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Posted 30 August 2003 - 02:58 PM

:wub: The meat is in the smoker! It is a great day. I wish I could send you all a sample of the smell in the kitchen. It is truly a beautiful thing :wub:
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#75 TrishCT

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Posted 30 August 2003 - 03:11 PM

:wub: The meat is in the smoker! It is a great day. I wish I could send you all a sample of the smell in the kitchen. It is truly a beautiful thing  :wub:

Sounds great! :smile:

#76 Fat Guy

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Posted 30 August 2003 - 03:14 PM

Isn't there supposed to be garlic involved somewhere along the line in the creation of pastrami? Or am I confused on that point?

I used whole garlic in the wet brine. I have read recipes that call for the meat being rubbed with whole garlic before the crust is applies and smoked.

My mistake. I was looking at the wrong ingredients list. You've definitely got the garlic situation covered.
Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
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Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
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#77 Kimchi

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Posted 30 August 2003 - 03:28 PM

Just read through this whole thread. This is all very inspiring to me.

All I can say is, holy fowke.

#78 Chef Fowke

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Posted 31 August 2003 - 12:36 AM

I had a little taste when it came out of the smoker..... :raz:



Full photos and tasting notes on Monday night: midnight pacific standard time!
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#79 Chef Fowke

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Posted 02 September 2003 - 03:30 AM

Three weeks of work and the meat is ready. The colour and fat content were absolutely amazing. The flavour was a little smokier then I remember the meat being at Schwartz’s but definitely not unappealing and I probably would give this meat a higher grade (in my humble opion) then the Schwartz’s meat because of it.

The project was a success. I worked online with the Sous Chefs (annual night out for the Chef de Parties so the Sous Chefs had to cook) tonight and I steamed off 5lbs of pastrami for there dinner at midnight. Four of us ate five pounds of smoked meats, two loaves of Canadian rye bread, 1/2 a bottle of deli mustard and a little beer!

The cooking technique for this project was very simple. The difficulty in making GREAT smoked meat/pastrami is the time and space needed. I could never offer this product at this quality in my restaurant (that’s not to say we do not use the best....) The absolute necessity to provide a completely sterile environment for the meat during curing was a huge expense. Then letting the inventory age for a minimum of three weeks taking up a whole 3 foot by 3-foot shelf is very expensive for any busy restaurant.

I must reiterate, and I have a sandwich wrapped in my fridge right now (that will probably be eaten before I post this thread) this pastrami was the best I have ever tried.

When I figure out the cost it is astronomical. A $3.85/lbs piece of raw meat ended up costing $13.86 a pound when you take into account 15% shrinkage while brining/smoking, $11.25 for the brine/sat peter, $14.84 for the smoking chips, storage, labour, electricity, trim, etc. If a restaurant had a food cost of 33% (very high) that one-pound sandwich (using this recipe) sold at Kratz would cost the customer in excess of $42.

It has become clear why most North American delis purchase their pastrami rather then produce it in-house. It is also clear why the dry brining process is more popular then the wet-brine.

We will start dry brining the plate/navel this week and update this thread with the results soon.


Posted Image
The meat just out of the steamer (three hours)


Posted Image
Dinner for the Sous Chefs (Sous Chefs drinking beer? Unheard of!)


Posted Image
This was the best night, in five years, working at Joe's. Look at all the kitchen managers and no employees. It was absolute kaos! The food has never looked better and the fun factor was huge.


Posted Image
(just bragging...Mondavi was in this week and I spent a couple of hours with him. It looks like he was admiring the smoked meat, but he wasn't)

Edited by Jason Perlow, 05 September 2003 - 08:59 PM.

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#80 Jason Perlow

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Posted 02 September 2003 - 08:52 AM

You mean $42 Canadian right? 60 percent of that is $25, if you want to conver that to USD, roughly. Rediculous, but certainly not insane for a high end restaurant or even a premium Jewish deli, we're talking a pound of meat here and a ton of labor. I think Katz's in NYC serves you about a half a pound or 3/4 depending on how nice you treat the slicing guys, and they charge like $12 US for it.
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#81 Stone

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Posted 02 September 2003 - 09:15 AM

Melkor -- I just looked at your brisket pictures. When I've purchased a full brisket (regular, not corned) in cryovac, there seems to be much more fat. Are the corned briskets trimmed at all? Or is your fat hidden on the bottom?

Chef Fowke -- who stabbed that guy in the neck?

Edited by Stone, 02 September 2003 - 09:17 AM.


#82 melkor

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Posted 02 September 2003 - 09:31 AM

Melkor -- I just looked at your brisket pictures.  When I've purchased a full brisket (regular, not corned) in cryovac, there seems to be much more fat.  Are the corned briskets trimmed at all?  Or is your fat hidden on the bottom?

The picture in this thread of my pastrami is from the brisket flat, the point end has more fat on it.

#83 Stone

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Posted 02 September 2003 - 09:39 AM

Do you separate them before smoking?

#84 Chef Fowke

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Posted 02 September 2003 - 10:46 AM

Chef Fowke -- who stabbed that guy in the neck?

I had to! He was going for the last piece of smoked meat....
To tell you the truth, that’s how they pull a tooth in the wild wild west of Canada.


Here is a better picture of the meat. You can see the marbling better! The meat was so good!

Posted Image

Edited by Jason Perlow, 05 September 2003 - 08:57 PM.

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#85 melkor

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Posted 02 September 2003 - 11:34 AM

Do you separate them before smoking?

Nope.

These pics CF is posting are going to force me to make another pastrami this week.

#86 ronnie_suburban

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Posted 02 September 2003 - 11:36 AM

Wow! That extreme close-up made me feel all funny inside... :cool:

Thanks for sharing!

=R=
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#87 jhlurie

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Posted 02 September 2003 - 12:53 PM

Chef Fowke, as beautiful as those pictures are, you've got to edit them a bit and reduce them. They're too wide! 640x480, or at most 800x600, should fit. It's not really a matter of bandwidth I think, as much as the fact that they are making your wonderful topic here a bit unreadable (they are widening the columns and pushing a lot of your description off the side of the page).
Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

#88 TrishCT

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Posted 02 September 2003 - 04:59 PM

Chef Fowke,

That is amazing work!

#89 Chef Fowke

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Posted 02 September 2003 - 08:18 PM

Chef Fowke, as beautiful as those pictures are, you've got to edit them a bit and reduce them.  They're too wide!  640x480, or at most 800x600, should fit.  It's not really a matter of bandwidth I think, as much as the fact that they are making your wonderful topic here a bit unreadable (they are widening the columns and pushing a lot of your description off the side of the page).

Sorry, I am working on a 21inch and it looks great. I will edit the pictures in the next 24 hours so they fit better.

I was up most of last night trying to figure out how to upload the pictures to my webspace. I was pleased that I managed that, I didn't even consider the size and formatting of the photos.
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#90 wesza

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Posted 02 September 2003 - 08:31 PM

Brian: LEAVE IT ALONE !!! That's the Bigggest, bessstest, most DELICIOUS "PASTRAMI" I've ever seem in my life. I just looked at it 'DROOLED and Pretended I could smell it. "That's Pastrami "PORNO". Whenever I need something reminiese about I'd like to be able to return to this piece of ART for soothing my needs. Please treat the NAVEL, with the same photography. You could make copies, and sell them to the real deli's. Irwin
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