|Bite and Booze Homemade Pastrami|
Bite and Booze by Jay D. Ducote
Monday, February 20, 2012
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.
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!