Well, today was the day. The beef brisket, which has been curing in my fridge, was ready to be made into homemade pastrami. I opened the zip lock bag and the sweet smell of the brining liquids filled the kitchen. So far so good. I started to drool.
I have been telling everyone about my piece of meat! Rose’s birthday party was on Saturday. I mentioned what I was undertaking to every guest at her party. They pretended that they were interested, but I could tell they didn’t care. What’s wrong with them! I mean, come on, HOMEMADE PASTRAMI PEOPLE! Every time I mentioned it to my mother (at least twice a day for the past five days) she just laughed or WORSE never paid attention! Nobody was even interested in taking a peek! Rose showed the most excitement out of anyone. She said, “Your putrami is in the fridge? What’s it doing it there mummy? Can I have a popsicle?”
The next step…I rinsed it well under cold water, patted it dry and covered it in crushed mixed peppercorns and whole coriander. Then I went out and started up the grill. I do not have a smoker and pastrami has a slightly smoking flavor. I knew I had to get the smoke in there somehow, so I figured a few minutes on the grill would be all it needed. I was a little worried about the leanness of the meat again. The flames were not shooting up at first, but then it happened, and again I was in heaven.
Look at those flames!
Normally pastrami gets slow roasted in a court bouillon (fancy words for flavored liquid for poaching), but that would take off the coating of spice. I couldn’t even imagine doing that. I could already taste it on my Reuben. I read about wrapping the meat in tin foil, putting into a roaster with a small amount of water and then slow roasting it for three hours. I decided to give it a try. I got it all wrapped up and into a 200 ° oven. I had a few hours to kill so I decided to take the girls to the park and then headed to the bakery for a loaf of Rye bread.
I love Clear Flour Bakery. My mother and I are addicted to their Pain de mei loaf. I had a choice between two different Rye breads, a heavy dark German Rye or their Deli Rye. Of course I had to mention my homemade pastrami to the man behind the counter and FINALLY some excitement. He used to run Star Deli in Brookline. He highly recommended the Deli Rye. He said the German Rye would over power the pastrami. Sounded logical, so I took a loaf of the Deli Rye.
I was almost ready for my feast. I just needed to get a couple more ingredients ready…Russian dressing and sauerkraut. I thought about making my own sauerkraut but it takes almost two weeks to pickle. Plus the thought of having cabbage bubbling away on my counter grosses me out. I decided to just buy it at the supermarket. I made up my own Russian dressing recipe which came out pretty damn good.
The time had come and the pastrami was ready to come out of the oven. The smell inside the house was amazing. I sliced it as thinly as I could. It was like “butta”. I drove a few pieces over to my parents. My pastrami finally got their attention! Of course, they weren’t even going to be around to have a Reuben. They had been invited over to friends to enjoy BLT sandwiches with fresh out of the garden tomatoes. Mmmmm that sounds good too! Oh well their loss!
I assembled the sandwiches and put them on our griddle. When the Emmenthaler started dripping down the sides of the bread, they were done! They were amazing. I never compliment my food. I have lower self esteem than a slug. I am never pleased with my results. This time I really got it right. I don’t think I would change anything! My Reuben was everything I have dreamed about for the past five days! I finished every last bite and had a big glass of icy cold coke! What more could a person want. I even got a compliment from Big Daddy!
Here’s the recipe if you want to try it for yourselves:
2 ¼ lbs Beef Brisket
8 cups Water
2 Tbsp. Mixed Peppercorns
1 Tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
4 cloves of Garlic, smashed with the side of a knife
¼ Tsp Cinnamon
2 Tsp Pink Salt (curing salt)
Bring all ingredients EXCEPT brisket to a boil. Chill in fridge until cold. Put brisket in a large zip lock bag and pour in brining liquid. Close zip lock releasing any air from inside. Refrigerate for five days. Turn bag at least once a day to make sure all sides of meat are being touched by liquid.
½ cup mayonnaise
3 Tbsp ketchup
2 Tbsp sweet relish
Dash of Worcestershire Sauce
Mix all ingredients together in bowl.