One of life’s little luxuries is being able to spend a cold afternoon at home with your family, playing games and eating your own home-cured pastrami, good cheese and other little nibbles. This is what we enjoyed doing for last few days, and it was bliss. I’m excited to show you how you can make your own pastrami, too! If you start now, you can enjoy it on New Year’s Day.
I followed instructions from one of my favorite books, Food DIY by Tim Hayward. It’s fairly simple process, and only takes five days to brine– and doesn’t require the use of any nitrates, either.
How to Make Your Own Pastrami
- A fatty and flavorful cut of meat, like brisket (this is what I used, unrolled) trimmed into a tidy slab
- 2 liters (8 cups) of water
- 200g (1 1/4 cup) coarse sea salt
- 100g (1/2 cup) sugar or honey
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 15g (1 Tbs) or so of pickling spices, which can also be your own blend of mace, allspice, juniper, coriander, ginger, dried chillies, cloves, mustard seed, etc.
- (After brining) 10g (2 tsps) each of coriander seeds and black pepper berries, crushed roughly (I used a mortar and pestle for this)
- To smoke your meat, you’ll need a kettle-style barbecue or a kettle smoker or something of the like, plus wood chips. What to Do:
- Put all of the brine ingredients into a pot. Bring to a boil, and let cool completely.
- Place your meat in double zip-lock bags. Pour the brine into the bag, press out the air, and seal.
- Store in a bowl in your fridge for 5 days, turning daily.
- Drain brine and pat dry. Press the crushed pepper and coriander seed into the surface of both sides of the meat, for as much coverage as possible.
- Smoke your pastrami for 2 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 70º C or 160º F. The important thing here is to keep the heat low and slowly bring it up to temperature, for a more tender meat. For instructions on how to smoke meat in a kettle barbecue, see my post on curing and smoking your own ham.
- Next step is to oven-steam. Put a little rack into a a larger dish, and put an inch of water in the bottom. Set the beef on the rack, and cover tightly with foil. Bake in the oven at 120º C or 250º F, for 3 hours.
- Enjoy thinly sliced, hot or cold. For extra enjoyment, eat it by the fire with lovely people. So delicious!
We ate ours up in three days, and need to get another one going, pronto! I hope you’ll try it– it’s easy and so good!