The problem with most pastrami that you buy--really the problem with most processed meats you buy--is that it is only so-so quality. It is made in a factory using corn-fed beef. Then they use a lot of spices and smoke to mask the nontaste. It is okay, but not great. Fortunately there are small makers of great pastrami, Jewish delis mostly, who make pastrami that ranges in quality from excellent to fantastic. Making fantastic pastrami takes a bit of practice, but you can make excellent pastrami with not very much work at all, that is far better than grocery store pastrami. It is cost effective as well. There are a few more steps than bacon, but each step only takes a few minutes. So while it is a long process, it really isn't very much work. Like bacon, getting the meat cut is usually the most difficult part. You use brisket or plate, but you want the whole cut. Any butcher should be able to hook you up, or like my pork bellies, I use www.nimanranch.comNow comes the easy part. You brine it for about three days in a brine composed of salt, brown sugar, pickling spices/herbs, etc. After three days discard the brine, and then coat the brisket with ground corridaner and black pepper. Now it is time to smoke it. You're technically hot smoking because you ultimately want to bring the meat up to 150 degrees, but you want a nice long, smoke. Four or five hours. So start at a low temperature and bring it up at the end. Then you when you're finished smoking, wrap the pastrami in aluminum foil and place it in a cooler to rest for a few hours. To prepare for eating, steam the pastrami in a pot with a rack like you would vegetables. Use a warm oven, 250-275 and steam it for 2-3 hours. It will be fork tender and taste amazing. It freezes very well too.
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