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The Great Pastrami & Smoked Meat Experiment


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That 'Funk' is derived from the coriander/peppercorn/herb mix melding with the smoke...The curing process is critical to the final product; the smoke and steaming, while adding some flavour is mostly for tenderness and preserving.

As well, never, ever trim the brisket. All the fat and connective tissue needs to be in place.

Chef/Owner/Teacher

Website: Chef Fowke dot com

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Aha! I will file this info for future attempts. There was an abandonned BBQ near my place this week, and I wanted to drag it in to collect the parts for a smoker, but the Significant Other nixed the idea. Oh well, I have a project already going, which is rendering 50 pounds of fatty beef trimmings for tallow (have a friend who works in a restaurant and it is not easy dragging a track bag full of beef fat up a long flight of stairs. I owe her more drinks than I bought her yesterday) Gonna make soap for Xmas presents. It's a frugal craft year, like all years.

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Aha! I will file this info for future attempts. There was an abandonned BBQ near my place this week, and I wanted to drag it in to collect the parts for a smoker, but the Significant Other nixed the idea. Oh well, I have a project already going, which is rendering 50 pounds of fatty beef trimmings for tallow (have a friend who works in a restaurant and it is not easy dragging a track bag full of beef fat up a long flight of stairs. I owe her more drinks than I bought her yesterday) Gonna make soap for Xmas presents. It's a frugal craft year, like all years.

Forget the BBQ; the best smoker I ever used was made from an old refrigerator! The mechanicals were removed and a 'hot-box' was put into the bottom (an electric charcoal starter set on a timer!) with a chimney up the back. The seals and insulation were great! A little smoke really generated a lot of flavour.

I would like to see you lug a refrigerator up a flight of stairs! Easier to make the soap…

Chef/Owner/Teacher

Website: Chef Fowke dot com

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  • 8 months later...
There have been dozens of pastrami- and smoked-meat-related discussions on eGullet, and there are several active right now. Here's a recent sampling:

Pastrami News

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?act=ST&f=4&t=20329

Defining Barbecue

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?act=ST&f=1&t=24408

Smoked Corned Beef

Would you like some?

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?act=ST&f=3&t=17639

corned beef vs. pastrami

stupid question but...

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?act=ST&f=1&t=17596

GastronautQuebec Report

Day One

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?act=ST...ST&f=26&t=24229

I have been re-reading and researching the posts on this issue, and I am not convinced that one pastrami/corned beef/Montreal smoked meat is better or worse than any other -- more specifically I am not convinced we have a set of criteria by which to make intelligent statements on the subject. We are not dealing with scientific fact, not yet at least.

I propose that I spend the next 60 days, in my kitchen at Joe Fortes (the restaurant in Vancouver where I am executive chef), and produce eight types of corned/smoked/pastrami-style beef according to the recipes you all provide, and a group can then taste and judge them under truly scientific conditions.

I have eaten smoked meats at Schwartz’s, Ben’s and The Main -- ranging from lean to extra-fatty -- and they all taste completely different to me (not to mention the quality of breads and mustards served with them). I have eaten examples of smoked meat/pastrami in Cleveland, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, which have been great but greasier and smokier then any of the smoked meats in Montreal.

Escoffier set up the standardization of recipes for the culinary world in the late-19th/early-20th Century. We need to set up our own criteria through a scientific set of standards. I will donate a few hours a day if you will all supply the set of standards and measures. When the standards have been set we can then go out to all the great delis of North America and have the conceptual tools to identify the best pastrami/smoked-meat/corned-beef -- the one that is truly the greatest and the king.

Schwartz's is pretty good but way too small. Katz's Deli and 2nd Ave Deli in NYC are the No.1 and No. 1 1/2.

Leave the gun, take the canoli

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  • 9 months later...

Smoke 'em if you got 'em

tracey

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

My Webpage

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  • 5 weeks later...

A local chef (originally from New York who's been doing BBQ once a week) and I recently started making pastrami and selling it at a farmer's market. We started with plate. A poor choice ultimately. It was cheaper, nearly half the price of brisket, which was nice, but it's so inconsistent and can be VERY fatty and has a lot of connective tissue. It's essentially beef bacon. We're switching to brisket. Also, the results are nothing like what everyone is used to at places like Katz. As a note, though, I just got back from NY where I tasted A LOT of pastrami (of the places I tried, Katz and Ben's Best in Rego Park were my favorites, about equally, second Jay and Lloyd's in Brooklyn, the others were all a step back) and I think our flavor is right on. We do a 5-6 day wet cure and then hot smoke using oak for about 7 hours. Then steam the next day.

Edited by ExtraMSG (log)
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I'll be in Portland next month for the American Cheese Society conference. Clearly I will need to find a way to fit in trying some of this stuff in the process.

Bacon starts its life inside a piglet-shaped cocoon, in which it receives all the nutrients it needs to grow healthy and tasty.

-baconwhores.com

Bacon, the Food of Joy....

-Sarah Vowell

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  • 3 weeks later...

A couple other problems we've been having: though Charcuterie says a three day cure, we have had pieces, especially thicker pieces such as the point of the brisket, not curing all the way through after a six day cure. Even when we've stabbed the hell out of the meat and rotated it like crazy it still happens. We're using an injector now to try to help get the cure to the center. It happens much less with the flat and we've switched to all flat now. I don't remember reading if anyone else had this problem.

I've been a little disappointed after switching to the brisket. The plate could be so luscious at times. It's much more difficult to keep the brisket juicy, though the lack of fat makes the rest of the process easier, plus the slicing much easier.

Placebo, I've got a media pass to the cheese conference, so maybe I'll see you there. We're switching to doing the pastrami as part of a Saturday brunch/lunch out of my business partner's restaurant, Ken's Place, so that we can maybe keep from selling out in an hour and a half. (We're maxed out on walk-in space for brining.) Email or PM me or come over to PortlandFood.org to set up a meal, if you're so inclined.

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A couple other problems we've been having: though Charcuterie says a three day cure, we have had pieces, especially thicker pieces such as the point of the brisket, not curing all the way through after a six day cure.  Even when we've stabbed the hell out of the meat and rotated it like crazy it still happens.  We're using an injector now to try to help get the cure to the center.  It happens much less with the flat and we've switched to all flat now.  I don't remember reading if anyone else had this problem.

I've been a little disappointed after switching to the brisket.  The plate could be so luscious at times.  It's much more difficult to keep the brisket juicy, though the lack of fat makes the rest of the process easier, plus the slicing much easier.

Placebo, I've got a media pass to the cheese conference, so maybe I'll see you there.  We're switching to doing the pastrami as part of a Saturday brunch/lunch out of my business partner's restaurant, Ken's Place, so that we can maybe keep from selling out in an hour and a half.  (We're maxed out on walk-in space for brining.)  Email or PM me or come over to PortlandFood.org to set up a meal, if you're so inclined.

Nick, have you tried this with Wagyu brisket? I was able to get some from my butcher for $6.99/pound untrimmed. Next time my butcher has it, I'm going to make some pastrami. My guess is that it would increase the "luscious" factor over standard brisket because even the flats are extremely well-marbled.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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No, I think that would price us out of the market. We use Cascade Natural Beef, which is pretty nice stuff, but not that marbled. Maybe I should make one for myself, though...

I just checked the local wholesale supplier's site for Wagyu brisket:

http://nickyusa.com/pdfs/PriceList.pdf

They've got it for 4.19/lb, but we have to buy a minimum of a case, which is about 24 lbs. That's not really a problem, though, and it's not that much higher than the prices we currently pay, so I'll check into it.

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A couple other problems we've been having: though Charcuterie says a three day cure, we have had pieces, especially thicker pieces such as the point of the brisket, not curing all the way through after a six day cure.  Even when we've stabbed the hell out of the meat and rotated it like crazy it still happens.  We're using an injector now to try to help get the cure to the center.  It happens much less with the flat and we've switched to all flat now.  I don't remember reading if anyone else had this problem.

I've been a little disappointed after switching to the brisket.  The plate could be so luscious at times.  It's much more difficult to keep the brisket juicy, though the lack of fat makes the rest of the process easier, plus the slicing much easier.

Placebo, I've got a media pass to the cheese conference, so maybe I'll see you there.  We're switching to doing the pastrami as part of a Saturday brunch/lunch out of my business partner's restaurant, Ken's Place, so that we can maybe keep from selling out in an hour and a half.  (We're maxed out on walk-in space for brining.)  Email or PM me or come over to PortlandFood.org to set up a meal, if you're so inclined.

Try Rytek Kutas "great sausagemaking and meat curing". My books in storage right now but iirc your meat is injected with 10% of its green weight with your cure. don't recall exact time frame-thinking about a week. Never had a prob with uncured parts...

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Good :wink: . If you were still looking, I'd tell you that Shefa has good briskets. Their store-front is Toronto Kosher on Bathurst. But you're not still looking :wink: .

Why, yes....at Bathurst and Eglington....I think it's called Nortown Meats. I recently bought a brisket at Max and Sons in Kensington Market. I don't know if he's strictly Kosher these days or not.

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Good  :wink: .  If you were still looking, I'd tell you that Shefa has good briskets.  Their store-front is Toronto Kosher on Bathurst.  But you're not still looking  :wink: .
Why, yes....at Bathurst and Eglington....I think it's called Nortown Meats. I recently bought a brisket at Max and Sons in Kensington Market. I don't know if he's strictly Kosher these days or not.

Thank you...I'll check them out too, I'm always scoping out new spots...

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your meat is injected with 10% of its green weight with your cure

That's what we've started doing: injecting the meats. We first started stabbing the meat all over and that seems to help, but the injecting looks like it has helped enormously. We're not doing 10% of its weight, but injecting in all the thicker parts a decent amount. I'll know for sure tomorrow, but the brisket we pulled out for corned beef hashes tomorrow looks good. Smoked the pastrami today, so cross your fingers.

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Why, yes....at Bathurst and Eglington....I think it's called Nortown Meats. I recently bought a brisket at Max and Sons in Kensington Market. I don't know if he's strictly Kosher these days or not.

Years ago Nortown short-weighed some sole I bought there. They were always very busy, and the scale was set too high. I re-weighed at home, and called the city, and they got back to me saying I was right and they would ticket the owner.

I never went back there.

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  • 2 weeks later...

So this last weekend was the first pastrami where I had done all the brining and stabbing and injecting and there wasn't even the smallest uncured spot. So if you're having problems, I highly recommend getting an injector. I inject the brine into the fattest parts of the meat and put enough that the brisket begins to puff up and sometimes the brine squirts out of stab holes. Here are a couple pics, btw:

knz_pastrami1.jpg

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Nick:(ExtraMSG)

Based on the appearance of your Pastrami it is properly cured, I'm sure the spicing and finish are complimentary.

However the fatty parts still needed more time at a slow smoke to break down the collagen. Ideally the fat should almost be translucent after the meat is taken out of the smoker.

When the finished Pastrami is allowed to steam this increases the tenderness and flavor during the steaming.

The Pastrami's featured at better NYC Deli's actually only require enough time in the steamer to bring it to a internal temperature of about 115/125 degrees Fahrenheit.

I'm looking forward to visiting Portland to enjoy the results. When is it available.

Irwin

Edited by wesza (log)

I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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Pan, the taste has been dead on every time. The only problem from the beginning was with thicker sections having a silver dollar wide uncured spot here or there (about the thickness of four silver dollars at most). But with the last two batches, that's been almost non-existant and non-existant, due to the injecting and stabbing. Also some texture issues here and there.

Irwin, we've been playing with it a lot. It actually looks better in person than it does on camera (much like me, I hope). eg, it's juicier than it looks and the fat is more transluscent as it looks in the shadows above. The lighting was from directly overhead through a skylight. So there's actually a weird mix of shadows and direct sun.

However, that's not to say that I wouldn't like it better. We've been trying to find the balance between the texture of the meat and the melting of the fat. We've had some batches come off that were really too tender. The texture of the meat on this batch was perfect. Each week, though, I think it's getting better and we're adjusting the balance. Maybe I can get the briskets in a few hours earlier this week.

We were selling at the Hillsdale Farmers Market on Sundays, but we were selling out in an hour and a half. We were at max capacity with about 70 lbs of pastrami (uncooked), just because of space to brine. We moved to my business partner's restaurant (Ken's Place, 1852 SE Hawthorne Blvd) for Saturday brunch (9:30a-2:30p) and expanded the menu. Now, beyond sandwiches, pickles (our own full sour and half-sour), chopped liver, and salads, we have pastrami and eggs, corned beef hash, salmon hash, nova lox and bagels (we have a fantastic amateur baker making the bagels, just enough for the lox plates), knishes, and cheesecake. (Plus we can now make reubens, my favorite sandwich of all time and these are the best I've had.) It's allowed us to spread out the meat a bit more and the first and second week we had one brisket left over. About perfect really. We expect to be slammed this week, though, since we heard we might be in the Oregonian.

The ultimate goal is to open a full-time deli and bagel bakery that at least wouldn't be embarrassed to compete with NY's offerings. Honestly, I think we're already doing better than a lot of the places I've tried in NY (including places that get recommended, not just the tourist joints like Carnegie). So come on down, it's a beautiful drive, and introduce yourself. I'll be splitting my time between helping wait tables and helping fill orders, probably wearing my Katz's t-shirt or my Black's BBQ t-shirt. You can go to Apizza Scholls for dinner and it'll be like you took a trip to NY without having to pay for an astronomically priced hotel. :wink:

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