Rockin Reuben 2.0 - Smoked Sous Vide Pastrami Sandwiches - Full Recipe & Sultry Food Pics
Greetings folks!!! It's my second food post here on Steemit, Here's a new recipe.
Before we get started I would like to clarify something from my introductory post. Being a total minnow and newbie at Steemit I didn't realized the difference between "display name" and "username." Just to clarify, I go by usernamerelevantsoon on Imgur. This is my first time also really messing around with the markdown/html settings on this site - So please let me know if you folks have any suggestions!
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s get down to making some homemade corned beef / pastrami! My inspirations for this recipe were based on Alton browns corned beef recipe, corned beef sous vide from Kenji @ serious eats, and the well put together corned beef / pastrami guides at amazingribs.com. If you'd like the quick ingredient/ recipe link click here (note - calculator is hyperlinked since curing salt amounts will vary).
So the first thing we need to do to get a good corned beef is to make your own curing solution. I forgot to take pictures of the joyous part of making my own curing solution and trimming my brisket as usual (I'll try to show it next time!) Essentially you mix curing salt with a bunch of spices and let the meat cure for X many days depending on size, thickness and the amount of curing salt added (Recipe and curing calculator linked below). Pictured below is a trimmed 5 lb brisket after curing in brine for 4 days and then soaked overnight in fresh water for desalination.
Desalination is probably one of the most important steps in my opinion, as it allows all the excess curing salt to come out of your meat. If you've had corn beef that was over salty, this is probably why. If you’re preparing your corn beef via the boil method, it isn't as much of an issue as most of the salt ends up in the water. If you’re baking or smoking it on the other hand like I'm doing, you definitely want to get rid of the excess salt!
Low and Slow
The main difference between corn beef and pastrami is that while they're both cured meats, pastrami is smoked. Here on my classic Weber I'm doing indirect heat with about a full chimney of unlit coals, and a half chimney of lit coals. The full chimney of unlit coals will ensure I have enough to last for a long smoke without having to refill (approx. 8 hours). For wood choices it's mostly preference, but I'm using pecan and mesquite wood chunks. Water pan added to help coal separation for heat zones and humidity. My target temperature is 225F / 107C. If you don't have a charcoal grill this can be easily done on a smoker, or even a gas grill indirect heat. The main thing we're going for is a nice smokey flavor with a decent amount of bark.
The Cut Test
Before throwing the meat on the grill and getting my rub on, I decided to do a small cut test to see if the curing solution penetrated the meat properly. According to amazingribs website, the meat should have a slight grey/pink appearance on the outside and look raw/slightly pinkish on the inside.
The Quick Boil Test
Just to be on the safe side, I also decided to do a quick boil test with the same piece I cut off. After doing a few corn beefs, I figured out that cured meat that hasn't reacted with nitrates will be brown in color instead of pink after being cooked. In this case the color was uniform so I could tell that the curing solution absorbed properly into the meat throughout the curing phase. I also did a taste test and it tasted like some good homemade corn beef, so win win!
Rub a lub a dub a dub!
Variety is the spice of life - here I've mixed together equal parts onion powder, pepper, garlic powder with approximately half the amount paprika and ground coriander. For a 5 pound brisket I used approximately 1 cup of this seasoning mix. Since the meat was already in a brine solution, no additional salt is needed for this recipe. Pro tip: if you need to grind down a large amount of pepper or whole seed spices use a cheap coffee grinder.
Now to turn this corn beef into pastrami!
Here it’s all rubbed up and ready to go. Some recipes call for the seasoned meat to sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or overnight, but since we're going to be doing sous vide later it wont be necessary.
Whats in the mop?
Right after we get the meat on the grill (indirect heat - opposite the hot coals) or in a smoker, now it’s time to make the mop. We'll be gently brushing this liquid on the pastrami every hour. This particular mop consists of about a 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1 cup of apple juice, 1 cup of beer, and a 1-2 tsp of garlic chili sauce (Sriracha's chunky cousin). This will add extra flavor to our meat.
Building the Bark
This is about 3 hours in, mopping / basting every hour. At hour 4 I went ahead and transferred the meat to my pellet smoker @ 225F / 107C for more even heating.
This is close to hour 8 @ 225F / 107C on my pellet smoker. The mop was transferred to the jars on the right for humidity / mopping. Internal temp of the pastrami was right @ 150F / 65.5 C when I pulled it for sous vide.
Sous Vide Prep
At this point the pastrami already smelled good, but I wanted to take it to the next level to further tenderize the meat. While vacuum sealing I placed knives at the bottom to prevent the bag from floating. It also helps prop the pastrami up in my sous vide container.
The Longer the Better...
Pictured above is the pastrami after about 10 hours. I went ahead and let it go for another 8-9 hours @ 180F /82.2C . By then the bag was super dark from all the smoke. The nice part about doing sous vide was that I was able to get everything else prepped for the sandwiches while not having to worry about overcooking it. The only drawback I found was monitoring the water levels ever so often and replenishing them. I'll try a cooler next time to see if it inhibits water loss.
With the coals preheating for the quick sear, it’s time to get the sandwich fixings under way. Pictured above is some Hatch New Mexico Green chile sauerkraut (hatch referring to location, not brand) - if you haven't tried it, its amazing. Basically mix about a 8 oz of roasted green chile with a small bag of sauerkraut. It brings a nice balance of spicy with tangy. Next year when I'm feeling ambitious I'll make my own kraut from scratch.
Return of the Bark!
Now my favorite part - Getting the bark back. With sous vide, you have a tenancy to lose your bark/crust due to all the moisture buildup inside the bag. Everyone gets it back differently but I like to get the coals white hot - then put the meat directly on for a quick sear. It doesn't take very long to heat it, since technically the meat is already fully cooked and up to temp from the sous vide unit.
Buttery Baked Cheesy Goodness
After pulling the meat and wrapping in foil, it was time to toast the bread. I've got some home made marble rye bread going in the oven on low broil. I buttered both sides and placed on provolone and Gruyere (it's what we had on hand). Even after the cheese melted, the butter wasn't browned so I assembled the sandwiches with some homemade Russian dressing and did a quick browning of the bread on the stove.
All cut up and smelling good!
don't forget to cut across / against the grain - It keeps your meat easy to bite into!
TWO TICKETS TO MEAT MOUNTAIN!!!
The coloring turned out absolutely gorgeous as well!
So far I would say this was the best pastrami I have made to date from scratch. The spices and smokiness were at the perfect amount. Not too spice heavy or overly smokey. Needless to say my friends want to do this again soon for one of our cookouts. While it takes a bit of time and patience to make your own corn beef and pastrami, I guarantee you won't go back to the store bought stuff after that!
Dirty Dog tax! Instructions / recipe below - text version linked here via google docs:
• 1 4-6 lb brisket, with all fat trim except for 1/8 inch layer on top. Silver looking skin removed as well from the bottom to speed up curing time.
• Curing solution / spices- modified recipe based on amazingribs corned beef recipe
1 gallon of cold distilled water ( I used filtered water from my Brita)
7/8 of a cup of Kosher Salt, or 8oz / 226 grams weighed
3 teaspoons Prague Powder / pink curing salt # 1. (Amount based on the amazingribs.com curing calculator) The overall page is very helpful info if you've never cured your meat before. The calculator is located at the bottom of the page. For thickness, I recommend measuring by the thickest part of the meat in inches.
1 cup of Belgian candi sugar or brown sugar (packed)
1-2 tablespoons of fresh cracked pepper – sub for whole peppercorns if you have it.
1 2-3 inch cinnamon stick smashed
2 tablespoon of yellow mustard seeds
2 tablespoon of coriander seeds
2 tablespoon of caraway seeds
2 bay leaves crushed
1 tablespoon of dried thyme leaves
1 tablespoon of ground ginger
1 teaspoon of whole allspice berries
1/2 teaspoon of whole cloves
1 tablespoon of ground mace
1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds
2-3 cloves of garlic, smashed or pressed
A note on spices*: While some of these ingredients are similar to other recipes, I’ve modified a few things based on preferences. Both Alton brown and amazingribs.com incorporate the use of allspice berries, cloves, and cinnamon sticks in their curing solution. I like to call these the “pumpkin pie spices,” as they lend that sort of flavor towards your corned beef. Whenever I see these ingredients used, I tend to cut the amount requested in half, as they can become quickly overpowering and diminish the other traditional flavors in corn beef.
After mixing all of your curing ingredients / spices together, place your brisket in a 2 gallon zip style bag. Then place your brisket/bag in an additional container that can support it. This way if it leaks it stays in the container - not all over your fridge. Next pour the curing solution in the bag. Displace as much air as possible as you seal the bag up. Place the bag / container in the fridge for the recommended curing time based on the amazingribs curing calculator Rotate/flip the meat in the bag every day to ensure equal curing throughout the meat.
After your meat has met the allotted time (I went 25% further because i felt it was too soon - which is okay according to the website) you'll need to desalinate the meat. Soak the meat overnight in a new bag with fresh cold water (roughly a gallon, I'm not your supervisor).
Preheat your charcoal grill or smoker for 225F / 107C and cook indirect heat for 8 hours or until 150F /65.5C with your favorite wood chunks added. I deviated a bit and put it on my pellet smoker after 4 hours f mor more even heating, but nothing beats the good ol' charcoal flavor. Even after transferring after 4 hours, the flavor was definitely still there.
This ones really extra and definitely into experimental territory, as I could've just smoked the pastrami for 12 or so hours. I wanted to see what effect the sous vide would have on the tenderness of the meat. I also didn't have time to babysit my grill for 12 hours so it worked out ( it was already pretty late).Preheat your water bin / sous vide tank/ pot to 180F /82.2C. For me it took about an hour or so, but I also have a cheap unit. Once the meat has been cooked to 150F/ 65.5 C on the grill/ smoker, vacuum pack and set the timer for 18 hours. Afterwards do a quick sear on the coals. Slice and serve!
A quick note on sous vide temp*: Kenji from serious eats put together a guide on cooking corned beef via sous vide. What I found notable is that he shows the effect of different cooking temps vs meat consistency and texture. According to Kenji, 180 F /82.2C appeared to have the best middle ground with moisture and softness, whereas 203F came out more flaky and dry. This particular pastrami that I made was somewhat in between the two at slightly flaky and moist. I believe this was due to smoking the meat prior too, but was a safe bet in my experimentation attempts. While absolutely delectable I'm curious to see what it would be like at a lower temp next time in combination with the smoke. Overall, rockin sandwiches!!! I've also put together this guide (although, not in as much detail) on Imgur as well. For all those Imgurians - Feel feel free to favorite and forget.
I Hope you all enjoy!