Deejayís NY Deli Style
Donít you just love a good juicy pastrami sandwich on dark rye bread with a big ole slice of your favorite cheese? I do to but it is kind of pricey to eat all the time† Ö unless you make it yourself!
Most people think pastrami is a Jewish deli meat but it was first made by the Romans somewhere around 500 BC. They loved the stuff and started making it on their own. Because there was no refrigeration smoking the meat made it last a little longer.
There are four steps to making great homemade pastrami Ė Trimming, the brining,† rubbing and the smoke. It really simple I often wonder why itís so expensive.
There are 3 totally different types of meat options using these same processing steps. Corned Beef (steps 1 and 2), Beef Bacon (steps 1, 2 and 4) and Pastrami (steps 1,2,3 and 4). Itís all a mater of when you stop in the instructions!
Start with a fresh brisket or lean bef roast. I used to get big cryo-packed briskets for a great price but these days they have pretty much disappeared up here so I have switches to a good size, lean cut of beef.Same instructions though except you can skip the section on trimming. This one started out at 11 pounds before trimming.
I also like my pastrami lean. Not much fat so I trim them a little closer than most people do.
Then I separate the flat from the point. Again this isnít necessary if you donít mind a layer of fat in the middle of your sandwich but I canít stand fat!
You can actually see were the two pieces of meat come together - right where that huge solid piece of fat is! If you grab it really tight and pull it will almost separate it self. You just need to tap a scarp knife where the pieces are pulling apart. Let the meat hang and keep slicing at the two pieces as it falls away until they are completely separated.
That big piece of fat goes all the way though the meat so as long as you stay between the fat you wonít make a mistake separating them and waste any meat.
Now you can decide if you want to turn both pieces into pastrami or save the point for smoking (it makes the best burn ends).
Making the brine
The brine uses the more types of spices than the rub believe it or not.
1 gallon cold water††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††
1 cup kosher salt
Prague powder #1 (by meat weight)††††††††
3 oz white sugar
6 bay leaves (crumbled)††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††† †††††††
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons juniper berries (crushed)*†† † †††††††
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
*Prague powder #1(by meat weight * NOTE:† this is what gives meat that pinkish color and prevents bacterial build up while smoking for long periods at low temperatures. If you plan to smoke you should use it!)
** If you donít have or donít wish to use nitrates† you can use Ĺ ounce of cream of tartar per Ĺ gallon of brine to help maintain that pinkish color in brined meats.†††††††††††††
Juniper Berries are optional but I think it gives it a nice flavor and thatís what makes it Italian! Juniper berries were originally used by the Romans as pepper.
A good source for juniper berries and a good course Butchers Ground Pepper is Con Yeager Spice Company. I buy most of my spices from them in 1/2 gallon containers. I saves me a fortune not having to buy by all those tiny $1 bottles and the freshness is wonderful!
Mix the spices together in a pint or so of hot water to dissolve it well then add the rest of the water, mix well then add the meat.
Pump/inject meat with brine every few inches up to about 10% of it dry meats weight and refrigerate in the brine for 5 to 7 days.
This is a good time to use vacuum sealer if you have one, if not just put a heavy plate on top of plastic wrap to keep the meat fully submerged during the brining process and keep air from hitting the meat.
After 7 days in the brine remove the meat and rinse in clear cold water to remove excess salt. Do this for about 20 minutes or it will be VERY salty. DO not forget this step. Any time your brine food it MUST be rinsed in clear clean water, beef, pork, chicken or cheese it doesnít matter rinse after a brine !
If you wanted to skip the first two steps or canít find a nice fresh brisket you could buy a corned beef brisket from the grocery store trim off some of the fat and go to step three.
What Do I Get When I Brine A Brisket?
Corned Beef ! Thatís right Corned Beef ! You can stop here and eat it as Corned beef
Smoke that corned beef and it becomes Beef Bacon
Continue on to make Pastrami.
1/3 cup Butchers Ground Course Black Pepper
* 1/3 cup juniper berries (crushed)
1/4 cup coriander
∑ again Juniper berries are optional but I think it adds a wonderful flavor.
A Note about pepper. Do Not use regular ground pepper form the market!
Regular and butcher ground are worlds apart!† Hereís a few photos to make this distinction clear:
†††††††††††††† †Regular Grind†††††† Course Butcher Ground†††††††††††††††††††††††† Regular Grind††††††††††††††††† Course Butcher Ground
You can see how one using the wrong ground pepper will be a big mistake! 1 teaspoon of course ground pepper is equal to about 3 teaspoons of regular ground pepper! Thatís hot!
Mix these spices together and rub it into every nook and cranny of the meat. Pack it on there, wrap it up tight in several layers plastic wrap and set it in refrigerator for 2 or 3 days.† If you have a vacuum sealer that will work well here also.