For simple beef brisket – skip the meat pickling stage altogether.
1. Meat selection:
2 kg+ beef brisket (not rolled – single piece – get it from a reputable butcher)
2. Pickle the meat = makes corned beef
a) 4-4.5 liters of water
b) 225g of kosher salt (Get from Amazon)
c) 9-10g of Prague Powder Nr. 1 Sodium Nitrate for curing meats (Get from Amazon)
d) Flavour ingredients: 200g brown sugar (white works also), 70-80 g of mixed pickling spices (coriander seeds, yellow mustard seeds, ginger, cassia, bay leaves, cloves, allspice birds eye chilli, bay leaves and black peppercorns) and garlic – 4-5 cloves smashed.
– Find a container that can handle the volume of liquid plus the meat fully covered up.
– Clean most (but not all) of the fat off the outside of the meat. Leave the fat in the actual meat chunk intact – that will melt when the pastrami is cooked. You just want to ensure that the liquid will be able to go into the meat itself, and the fat cap on top of the meat can seal the meat and not allow the liquid to penetrate the meat.
– Add all the ingredients above to the water and warm up to a simmer whilst mixing frequently to dissolve the salts, nitrates and sugars, and also to release the flavour from the pickling spices.
– Cool the pickling mixture down until you can easily keep your hand in the mixture (you do not want the brisket to cook when you introduce it in the mixture)
– Introduce the meat in the pickling mixture and ensure it does not float above the liquid. Use a weight to weigh it down if needed.
– Cover the mixture up and refrigerate it.
– Allow to pickle between 5-7 days, refrigerated and covered. Mix once every 1 or 2 days.
3. Turn the corned beef into pastrami
– Remove the corned beef from the pickling solution, discard the solution, pat down the meat with a paper towel, and leave in the fridge for a couple of hours uncovered to allow excess moisture to evaporate
– Remove the meat from the refrigerator
– Create a dry rub (your own preference of spices can go here but as a suggestion use the following: brown sugar, paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and mustard power. The basic is salt, pepper, brown sugar – the rest are as per your own preference)- Sprinkle generously the rub on the meat, ensuring to cover wholly, with a thick (at least 1-2mm) crust.- Cook/smoke low and slow to an internal temperature target of 95 degrees C. Use a meat thermometer.
Oven instructions: Set oven to 150 degrees C.- Once at temperature, introduce the meat well covered in foil. (Suggestion: make a coffee flavoured pastrami by introducing 1 shot of expresso inside the foil at this point)- Keep an eye on the thermometer – once the meat achieves 83 degrees centigrade, uncover the meat – remove the foil. Ideally set on a rack so hot air can circulate all around the meat and a nice crisp bark layer can form from the rub of spices. Cook until the internal target temperature if 95 degrees is reached.
Cut your pastrami against the meat grain. Make large sandwiches or serve in the way that you prefer. Pickles on the side.