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[Modernist Cuisine] Beef Cheek Pastrami (6•121)

Anonymous Modernist 16497

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Hello. I'm making the pastrami for the first time and was wondering a couple of things that don't seem to be specified in the book.

1) What kind of wood is recommended for this recipe? I used Hickory, and it smells right to me, but I'm no expert at smoking things. So, I wanted to hear what's best.

2) I am using boneless short rib for this recipe and wasn't sure if my Jaccard(sp?) meat tenderizer was necessary. I know they discuss these in the beginning of the book, but almost seems redundant when you are cooking for 72-hours... then again, it could only help to get the brine/smoke/rub flavors into the meat, huh?

Thanks in advance for the help! sf-smile.gif

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I am making this recipe right now as well, I am in day 2 of brining at present. I am making it for our 3rd food event at sector 67 in Madison, WI. I have to make enough for 30 or so people, so I am using larger cuts of meat, as the short ribs that I could find were small presliced packages. It looked like tritip roasts were well marbled yet large enough to feed a group. I used a fork to make holes for the brine to reach the insides quicker in one of the tritips, but left the second one alone. I also bought a spoon roast and am turning it into pastrami as well. I will brine for 4 days or more and then smoke and cook. The questions that I also have are: What kind of wood, I was thinking hickory or apple., and how long should I souse vide the tritip? I'm leaning toward 2 days at 144f , instead of 3 days, as it may turn out mushy and to give the meat an extra day to brine because they are larger cuts of meat. Does anyone think it is necessary to go to 3 days? Also, is it necessary to use 15g of instacure #1 as the guy at the sausage shop said it is generally enough for 11kilos of meat when they are processing. Is it overkill?

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There should be no need to Jaccard the meat. I also did short ribs and they came out fantastic. Be forewarned that the "smoke" aroma could permeate out of the bag into the water bath. I also used a combo of apple and cherry, but I think that any wood will work.


I would think that the 15g is based on the amount of brine that they recommending on making. I followed the recipe, and would say that it did not affect the final product. Also, I do not think that it will turn out mushy based on the amount of salt and cure that is in the brine.


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I smoked the pastrami using hickory smoke for 4 hours, and I used 2 charges of wood shavings in the electric smoker. I then placed them in vacuum bags with the boiled/skimmed/cooled brine and sealed them. I then placed them in the souse vide bath at 144 degrees F. This morning I looked in at them and the water had darkened and smelled smokey. I was worried that one of the bags had leaked, but when I held them up there were no leaks. I don't know what happened. Could there be a smoke byproduct that can leach through the plastic bag into the water? Very strange.

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I had the same issue and my bags did not leak. It will continue to leach though the bags until you pull them. I guess one could double bag them? The smoke aroma was obnoxious to me coming out of the bath. I kept changing / swapping baths when it got too strong. The came out just fine by the way... Here is an image of it.


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  • 1 month later...

Thanks for all the insight guys. Mine came out really good as well. The smoke flavor did happen while Sous Vide'ing. I liked it but boy it tested my self control! I wanted to rip into those bags well before the 72-hour mark. Hickory seemed like a good choice, flavor-wise, but it also seems to be the popular choice. Anyway, thanks again! Happy cooking!

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  • 7 years later...

I can't say I'd forgotten how fantastic this pastrami is (it's pretty memorable), but it had been a while since I'd made it. I've been making a lot of rye breads recently, however, so this seemed like an opportune time to revisit. This is beef short rib pastrami with Wagyu ribs from Rockin' HD Ranch (one county over from me, they sell at my local farmer's market), served on the Pumpernickel I posted about here, itself fried in a bit of fat rendered from the pastrami.







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Chris Hennes
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