Pastrami Simplicity…

Recipes and techniques using brine.

Pastrami Simplicity…

Postby nwaring » Mon Aug 15, 2011 10:04 pm

I’m a bit of a newbie to curing etc, but a proficient cook. I’ve had success with Bacon thanks to the beginners guides on the forums and now it’s time to extend onto something else – Pastrami!

My aim is to create pastrami which will be eaten cold in sandwiches (but may also be eaten hot after cooking if I can’t resist!)

I know I need to do this in two parts (Cure then hot smoke) but I’m getting bogged down the different (conflicting?) ways of curing. I have looked at a variety of different posts and websites (I'm sure some will be able to identify sources of some information in the following!):

1. Dry cure or Brine?
For some reason I am favouring brining… it seems the ‘traditional’ method and I like traditional!
I understand that it creates a little more challenge in calculations. If there is a sound alternative dry cure method then I am also interested but only if it offers a comparable final product

2. Inject or Soak?
From what I can establish, the only benefit of Injecting is to speed up the process. I don’t have a syringe and am therefore only soaking.

3. Brine Solution
I’m not boiling the cured meat and will therefore use a 5% salt solution. Based on a 5lb piece of brisket my brine will comprise:
• 3.785 Litre Water (166.96% of meat weight)
• 169g Salt (7.45% of meat weight)
• 100g Sugar (4.41% of meat weight)
• 20g Cure #1 (0.88% of meat weight)
• Aromatics to suit intensity of flavour required (Black Peppercorn, Bay, Coriander Seeds, Cloves)
Heat up all ingredients (nearly boiling point) and then leave to cool before adding the beef weighted down in a plastic container

4. Duration
Read several theories based on weight (2 days per lb) or thickness (? day per ¼”). However, they all seem to end-up as 10 days curing time.
I guess that the thickness calculation may be more helpful if you have a larger flat piece of meat with the weight calculation giving a silly length of time.
So, I’ll work on 2 days per lb and leave in the fridge – turning every couple of days

5. Preparing for cooking
No need to soak the cured beef prior to cooking (as it’s been in 5% cure)
Simple rinse and dry before coating in rub:
• 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper (more if you like it peppery)
• 3 tablespoons cracked coriander seeds
• 1 teaspoon dried granulated garlic
• 1 teaspoon onion powder
• 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

6. Cooking (Method #1)
Lightly smoke at 220°F to 250°F until the internal temperature is 165°F to 170°F. If it seems tough, cook until 180°F
Once cooked, wrap in foil and allow to rest for 1hr before serving or cooling to slice

7. Cooking (Method #2)
Lightly smoke at 220°F to 250°F until the internal temperature is 150°F
Following smoking, cook in a pressure cooker 20-30 minutes. Following the cooking duration, remove the cooker from the burner and let the pressure fall naturally

I guess the main part I’m unsure about is the brining process… as this will significantly affect the final result.

I’d be really grateful if anyone could advise my ratio / durations.


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Postby solaryellow » Mon Aug 15, 2011 10:38 pm

I do mine a little differently but I would be happy to share what works for me based on your questions.

1.) Brine

2.) Inject - I inject because lately I have been using sirloin tip roasts instead of brisket or plate. If I didn't inject it would be a very long wait for it to cure properly as those are very thick cuts.

6.) I smoke mine with pecan and oak at around 225* F until it gets to an internal temperature of 160* F. I then foil it and let it rest several hours. Then it goes into the fridge overnight before slicing for sandwiches.
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Postby wheels » Mon Aug 15, 2011 11:09 pm

Nick, welcome. I've rarely seen a so well thought out first post. you must have been doing lots of research?

Your cure is perfectly safe for the weight of meat/period of curing. I'm assuming that you will be using fairly thin meat (brisket?) because my only concern would be whether it would be fully cured throughout otherwise.

I'll leave others to advise about the rest as I'm assuming that you're in the US? Our US members make me look like an amateur when it comes to Pastrami! :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Postby nwaring » Tue Aug 16, 2011 7:31 am

Thanks for the quick reply.

Interesting you take it to internal 160... that's a little lower than I planned. Perhaps I'll take a peek at 160 and see what it's like.

Not quite setup my profile properly so location is incorrect - I live in Yorkshire in the UK. One of the reasons to get to grips with a recipie is that it's difficult to find good pastrami in the UK.

Thanks for the compement... I've done quite a bit of reading from different sites and wanted to bring it together into one place... at least writing it down means I've now got a recipie I can follow and tweak based on feedback and trialling.

In terms of the cure, yes I have a piece of 'flat' brisket (around 2.25" at it's thickest point). It's good to know that I'm safe and not going to cause any problems.

I do have a copule of follow-on questions...
1. Can the volume of Brine be used to cure more meat (at the same time)? What if I increase the quantity of meat to say 8lbs - in 2 x 4lb pieces. If they were both even thicknesses then would this allow enough cure?

2. I'm guessing you have some calculator which indicates whether it's going to be sufficient or not... is this all out of your head or is there somewhere I could look to find reference material to calculate myself?

3. At some point I'm likely to brine a larger (thicker) piece of meat and will therefore need to consider injecting... I've read that you tend to inject with 15% solution and then leave in remaining brining liquid for a shorter (3-4 day) period. Is this pretty universal for different meats?

Thanks for your help / advice.

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Postby NCPaul » Tue Aug 16, 2011 11:51 am

Welcome to the forum. :D I cooked one this weekend to 170F internal with the smoker at 225-250F. This will probably take about 6-7 hours. I was also unsure about what temperature I should take it to since I've seen several given. I think solaryellow's procedure would work fine. I recommend injecting since it really simplifies the curing step and I inject 10 % of the meat weight with the curing solution (it's hard to get much more than that in).
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Postby nwaring » Tue Aug 16, 2011 12:26 pm

Hi Paul,

Thanks for replying... having read previous comments I gathered a preference for Injecting.

Happy to listen to the collective guidance... Does anyone have a link to a reasonable cost / good syringe?

I take it that you inject to increase weight of meat by 10% and then immerse in the same brine for 3 days (no matter what the weight / surface area is)

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Postby Vindii » Tue Aug 16, 2011 12:57 pm

Ive only done one pastrami so keep that in mind. It was the best pastrami Ive ever had though.

I smoked at 225 to 160 degrees. After that I put it on a rack in a pan with some water in the bottom and covered it with foil. Put it back in the smoker (or oven at this point) and steamed it for 2-3 hours. Wrapped and put it in the fridge overnight and sliced thin on a meat slicer the next day.

For what its worth it seemed like a piece of rubber when I pulled it out of the smoker at 160. I thought I ruined it. After thin slicing it just fell apart though.

It was awesome and much better than store bought pastrami.
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Postby Salmo » Sat Aug 27, 2011 10:50 am

Has anybody tried cold smoking rather than hot?
I would like to have a go at pastrami but only have a cold smoker.
What would be the best way to cook the pastrami following a cold smoke?
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Postby BriCan » Sat Aug 27, 2011 4:56 pm

Salmo wrote:Has anybody tried cold smoking rather than hot?
I would like to have a go at pastrami but only have a cold smoker.
What would be the best way to cook the pastrami following a cold smoke?

I have done cold smoking a lot of times for a client and it turns out great, as for cooking I would assume that one could cook it any way that you would like my client did it Sous Vide

But what do I know
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Postby DanMcG » Sat Aug 27, 2011 9:49 pm

I will poach or steam mine above some warm water 180°+/-
I just looked up Brican's Sous Vide and that sounds damn interesting.
might have to try that some time soon.
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