I was not planning on writing another post on pastrami so soon. The pastrami experiment was successful, however there was one thing that nagged me about my last two batches. It was flavorful and reminded me of the NYC Jewish delis I remembered, but there was something still missing…FAT! Pastrami is not diet food and it needs a certain amount of fat to be really good. What I made was the equivalent of diet pastrami. Not a sin, but not close to perfection.
So I started to do my research on who and what makes the best pastrami in the world. The who was easy, Katz’s Deli, 2nd Avenue Deli, and Carnegie Deli in NYC. The what was not so easy. When most of us think of pastrami, we think of the brisket or the round cut of the cow. The top deli’s use the beef navel plate. The beef what? Don’t worry about it, just order it. Oh wait, I tried asking the local supermarket for the beef navel plate and they looked at me like I was crazy. Go to a butcher who specializes in custom orders and has relationships with the local farmers. Those are the folks who are going to get for you the best cuts of meat. Since I live in the Seattle area, Rain Shadow Meats (Butcher) and Painted Hills Natural Meats (Farm) were the people who got me the beef navel plate. This beef was amazing and marbled like Kobe beef. You could eat thinly sliced pieces of this beef like sushi, if you wanted.
In a first for Weekend Food Projects, I am considering the pastrami project done. Of course, I am going to experiment with the recipe from time to time, but I am really satisfied with the results. Thank you, Eric Rivera for helping me source the beef navel.
1 Beef navel plate (about four pounds and brined for a week)
2.5 tablespoons of coriander seeds
2.5 tablespoons of black peppercorns
After removing the brisket from the brine, soak for 30 minutes in cold water, rinse and dry thoroughly, and let rest for a hour in the refrigerator. While the navel is resting, toast the coriander and black peppercorns in a small, dry pan. Pour the spices into a spice grinder and grind finely. Remove the navel from the refrigerator and cover it with the spice mixture. Place the brisket in the smoker until the internal temperature of the navel reaches 140 degrees, about two hours. Once the brisket is done smoking, steam the navel for two hours (or until fork tender).
Note: My smoker runs so cold in that I often smoke my meat for two or three hours and finish it off in the oven at 225-250 degrees until the meat hits 140 degrees.
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