Friday, March 15, 2013

Pastrami for St. Patrick's Day

With St. Patrick's Day a couple days away I thought it would be good to get a corned beef brisket and smoke it - commonly known as Pastrami (though it is not technically a Pastrami, it is close enough and darn good!) I'll be following the guidelines I found at Playing with Fire and Smoke and which come highly recommended. I started with a 4 lb brisket I found at Sam's and which happens to be the brand recommended in the blog. Today (Friday morning) it goes in a cold water soak so I can start leaching out the excess salt. The actual smoke will be done Sunday morning. I also bought a second brisket to use to make the more traditional corned beef and cabbage. We will be serving both.

Weather conditions - TBD

Preparation and recipes - per the link described above. First soak the brisket in cold water, changing several times. For smoking I will use the following rub.
  • 4 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper (more if you like it peppery)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons Canadian/Montreal Steak seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme, dried
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
and instead of Montreal Steak Seasoning, add:
  • dill
  • Cayenne flakes
(Montreal Steak Seasoning. <sigh> This is one of those things like Chili Powder that gets my undies in a bunch. It contains  garlic, coriander, black pepper, Cayenne pepper flakes, dill seed, and salt. Note that everything except Cayenne and dill is already in the recipe. Why not just list appropriate quantities of dill and Cayenne and be done with it! So I did.)

Pre-smoke prep

datetime comment
2013-03-1510:00 AMBrisket rinsed and put in cold water soak.

7:00 PMChanged soak water.
2013-03-167:00 AMChanged soak water.

4:00 PMChanged soak water.

10:15 PMDried off the brisket and applied the rub.
2013-03-178:20 AMIn crock pot with spices and 2 qt water. Crock Pot set to low.

3:20 PMAdded carrots, onion, celery and potatoes.

4:45 Not satisfied with progress. Put cabbage in a large pot and moved the rest of the stuff from the crock pot to the stove. 

5:25At light boil - Meat at 176° and still probing pretty firm.

6:00Meat ready to serve. Carrots still firm but cabbage a bit overcooked.

I plan to smoke this on the mini - perfect size for that. Looking at previous brisket smokes, I need to plan about 6 hours for this so I think I need to have it on the fire no later than 6:00 AM. Going to be an early morning! I'll use some of those new Royal a Oak briquettes and some pecan and oak for smoking wood, I think. Desired serve time is 5:00 PM. Allowing an hour for resting and 5 hours for smoking, I want to get it on the smoker at 11:00 AM.

Argh! Remote thermometer woes. The new ET-732 is reading all over the place on the cooker probe. The ET-73 is not receiving inside. I'm recharging some batteries for the 73 to see if that helps.yu

timetemp comment
11:10 AM
Meat on the smoker!

12:13191°/124°meat moving so I'll leave it be for a while.
2:17192°/154°Still going OK. Threw another piece of oak on the coals which seem to be mostly gone. And the ET-732 seems to be reading the cooker OK. Lid temperature is now approaching the thermometers so I opened the bottom vents to 1/2 each (was one at 1/2)
Added some more briquettes
5:26255°/171°Should be done now. Still probing pretty firm. (Water pan now dry.)
6:00250°/172°Meat off to rest while boiled corned beef is sliced.
(grate,meat) => (ET-73 cooker probe, ET-732 meat probe)

Might as well document the plans for the other brisket. I bought two. The plan is to smoke one and to boil the other with cabbage, carrots following Alton Brown's recipe except that I'll be doing it in a crock pot. That should take about 9 hours so I need to get the brisket in at 8:00 AM. Veggies will go in about an hour before the meat is done.

Both briskets were taken to an internal temp of just above 170° and both really needed more cooking. They were both pretty firm. I sliced as thinly as I could but they were still too chewy. They were also a bit heavy on black pepper. The cabbage still wound up overcooked. Potatoes were also falling apart.

There is a lot of room for improvement on this one. I need to plan more time for the corned beef next time. Getting it to 170° was not sufficient. I will also back off on the pepper in the rub and boil. And I need to stage the veggies. Carrots first followed by potatoes and once the brisket is done, add the cabbage. 15 minutes extra for the corned beef is not going to matter while an extra hour for the cabbage leaves it pretty limp. I also need to check 

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