Monday, February 1, 2010

Homemade pastrami sandwich

Corned beef and pastrami are easy to make (if you can find all the ingredients). Dry pickling mixes can be found in most supermarkets, but the pink salt (Prague powder #1) may be a little difficult to acquire. If need be, there are numerous online sources. You don’t need much, so unless you plan a lot of corning, buy just a few ounces.

This pink salt is what keeps the corned beef or pastrami pink when it’s cured. It contains sodium nitrate and sodium chloride, but gets rinsed off after the picking process is finished. I’ve followed a number of different recipes for corned beef and have settled on my own system.

Essentially I made corned beef which I then turned into pastrami (magic!). Get yourself a corning recipe online or maybe in a cook book you own. I think it’s best to use one that calls for the water and pickling mix to be brought to a boil and then cooled completely before the meat goes in.

Most recently I used a portion of some kind of chuck steak. Brisket or flank steak is the norm, but I’ve made corned beef with a number of different cuts. My only criterion is that the “grain” of the meat be discernable and consistent throughout the cut.

Some recipes say steep the beef for 3-5 days, others for several weeks. My last batch went for 2 weeks and was my best effort. After it’s cured, rinse the meat thoroughly – get all the spices bits off it. Put it in cold water and refrigerate for 24 – 36 hours, changing the water once or twice.

Now, here comes the pastrami part. Instead of simmering the corned beef for a few hours with additional pickling spice (though no pink salt), I dried it off and rubbed it with about 2 tablespoons each of cardamom seed and black peppercorns (roughly ground in a spice grinder). Then I put it in a shallow baking pan, on a rack, with water underneath it; covered it with foil and baked it for 3 hours at 250 degrees. Add more water from time to time.

The meat will dry out some, but I steam it to warm it before slicing and making sandwiches. I realize I’m counting on you for taking some initiative with this, but if you are patient you will be rewarded.

Pastrami sandwich
Russian dressing
Swiss cheese
Rye bread

I don’t think you need me to tell you how to make a sandwich, just be sure to steam the pastrami before slicing. And, of course, slice it across the grain and very thin. Pile it high!

1 comment:

Jenn said...

I've never made my own pastrami before, always thought it would be too hard! I just may have to try it now!

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