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Monday, February 20, 2012

Homemade Pastrami

Needing to break out the trusty barbecue pit, I recently decided to play around with something old and something new.  The new conquest I set my sights on was my very first attempt at making homemade pastrami.  I've smoked a brisket multiple times before, but never quite pastrami style.  The old adventure was a fresh take on grilled quail.  I used to grill quail fairly often back when I used to hunt with my father in South Texas.  They've long been one of my absolute favorite eating birds, but I haven't had the pleasure of cooking them recently at all.  When I found out that they carried them at Calandro's Supermarket, I knew I needed to reinvigorate my passion for this petite poultry.

Bite and Booze Homemade Pastrami
The pastrami actually began about five days before I cooked it.  I took a brisket, separated it into the flat and the point sections (to read more about the anatomy of a brisket, check out this article from Amazing Ribs).  This allowed me to work with two smaller pieces of beef and to trim as much fat as possible.  For the brine, I used about a gallon of water with some salt, sugar, black pepper, bay leaves, and gin.  I used gin because it is distilled from juniper berries, which are a common ingredient for pastrami and part of the rub I put on the outside.  After I brined the brisket for five days (wish I could have had seven!), I removed them from the liquid, patted them dry, and rubbed them with a blend of butcher's cut black pepper, crushed juniper berries, and crushed coriander seeds which I got from the Red Stick Spice Company.  I then smoked the briskets for about 8 hours at 225 degrees over charcoal and apple chips.  The result was a marvelously juicy and very flavorful homemade pastrami!