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Author: sykesix Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 59162  
Subject: Pastrami Date: 1/28/2009 1:55 PM
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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.com

Now 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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Author: ariechert Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 16627 of 59162
Subject: Re: Pastrami Date: 1/28/2009 4:01 PM
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You use brisket or plate, but you want the whole cut. - sykesix


Like the briskets they sell at Wal-mart or Sam's Club? Do you use curing agents like sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite? How about Ascorbic acid to reduce the NO3 to NO (as a gas)? My understanding is that nitrous oxide attaches to the myoglobin molecule to fix it and that's what gives it that nice pink color?

Anyway, it doesn't sound all that difficult. I might give it a try. I'll need to buy a brisket from Wal-mart the next time I'm there. Wish I had a really good meat slicer to slice those nice ultra thin slices like the deli's do. Yummmm!!

Artie

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Author: sykesix Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 16630 of 59162
Subject: Re: Pastrami Date: 1/28/2009 4:35 PM
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Like the briskets they sell at Wal-mart or Sam's Club? Do you use curing agents like sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite? How about Ascorbic acid to reduce the NO3 to NO (as a gas)? My understanding is that nitrous oxide attaches to the myoglobin molecule to fix it and that's what gives it that nice pink color?

Anyway, it doesn't sound all that difficult. I might give it a try. I'll need to buy a brisket from Wal-mart the next time I'm there. Wish I had a really good meat slicer to slice those nice ultra thin slices like the deli's do. Yummmm!!


Yep, I use "pink salt" which sodium nitrite. You'll probably have to order it over the Internet.

I haven't tried the ascorbic acid. As far as the brisket goes, I really prefer the grass fed beef because just tastes better. But as long as you get a nice big piece (around five pounds) it should be fine. A smaller piece will work of course, but if you are going to go through the trouble, you might as well make a lot, I figure.

My meat slicer was $70-80, something like that and it has paid for itself many times. It is a cheapo, but for the things I use it for it works just fine. As I mentioned in the other post, you can slice your own lunch meat for a fraction of the cost of buying it sliced.

LYBM tip: Corned beef is made from the brisket. The day after St. Paddy's day stores put their unsold briskets on sale for dirt cheap. That's a good time to buy few and turn them into pastrami.

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Author: Gingko100 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 16634 of 59162
Subject: Re: Pastrami Date: 1/28/2009 5:26 PM
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I've never done anything like this (well, except gravlax, but that's different). But...

I wouldn't think you'd want to use ascorbic acid on meat. Isn't that a lot like citric acid? And if you use lemon juice on meat it "tenderizes" it to the point where it just gets mushy. I don't think that would be too good for long term curing.

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Author: DorothyM Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 16637 of 59162
Subject: Re: Pastrami Date: 1/28/2009 5:58 PM
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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.

I checked to see where you're buying your pastrami -- I knew it wasn't in New York. ;-)

Now I understand why you make your own.

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Author: ariechert Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 16661 of 59162
Subject: Re: Pastrami Date: 1/29/2009 12:06 AM
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I wouldn't think you'd want to use ascorbic acid on meat. Isn't that a lot like citric acid? And if you use lemon juice on meat it "tenderizes" it to the point where it just gets mushy. I don't think that would be too good for long term curing. - gingko


The ascorbic acid reduces the NO3 to NO, releasing NO as a gas which attaches to the myoglobin giving it that permanent pink color we associate with cured meats. It does not tenderize the meat but it might have some effect as a preservative seeing as how bacteria hate acids and grow better in a slightly alkaline environment.

So, the ascorbic acid is added as a "quick cure."

Artie

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Author: crassfool Big funky green star, 20000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 16678 of 59162
Subject: Re: Pastrami Date: 1/29/2009 1:05 PM
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Gingko100 says

I wouldn't think you'd want to use ascorbic acid on meat. Isn't that a lot like citric acid? And if you use lemon juice on meat it "tenderizes" it to the point where it just gets mushy. I don't think that would be too good for long term curing.

Ascorbic acid is Vitamin C. Not similar to citric acid at all, although both are found in lemons.

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