Pastrami is a cured meat. Not that it was sick in the first place, but it is “cured” to prevent a sickness–yours! Nitrites and salts tend to hold down the growth of certain microbes (or demons, depending on your personal set of belief disorders) so as not to make you sick. Like a lot of other “isms”, botulism should be avoided.
Do not attempt to cure the meat of a live animal. The live ones are often unwilling to sit in the brine long enough for the cure to take place. If you’re squeamish, hire an assassin to kill it for you, and make the select cuts.
The pickle or brine should be of the proper formula which is available in books, but not detailed here due to copyright laws. The best one I’ve seen is in:
Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing by Rytek Kutas
Besides soaking in the brine, the brine should be injected (into the roast–not you!). The meat should remain in the soak of at least three or four days, but a week or so won’t hurt. During this time you can soak your tongue in various enjoyable liquids as your budget allows.
Before placing it in the smoker, remove it from the brine, or you’ll end up with a very salty preservative soup with meat in it. After draining, give it a good rub-down with coarse ground black pepper and coriander spice. I usually add a touch of paprika, but that is optional. Then, you should be ready to smoke your pastrami. Don’t let the dawgs help you with this as they cannot be trusted to let the meat stay in the smoker long enough to do any good.
Do not attempt smoking it in your pipe. Put it in a smoker instead. It draws poorly in a pipe, and clogging is likely to occur. By clogging I am not referring to the folk dance, but to an impasse where no beneficial traffic occurs–kinda like when congressmen try to act like they agree with each other when they really don’t.
Not only will it clog your fine briar woods and meerschaums, but it will likely clog your windpipes as well. Smoke it in a smoker, or purchase it already smoked. Good pastrami sold in most grocery stores is often made from beef top round roast. I use venison when I can get it. You can use the back legs of squirrels, but it takes a lot of ’em to make a good sammich, and many folks today are not trained to appreciate it.
Levels of sobriety will vary from cook to cook, but I always have a sip of something before, during and after the rub-down just to keep any dusty spices that could get in my throat cleared away. It could be my imagination, dust seems to be ubiquitous no matter what I’m doing so I always try to keep a remedy handy.
Do not roll it in rolling papers. Papers are for a different kind of smoking where the cook is more likely to be pickled than the meat. Instead, roll the pastrami between slices of a good rye bread with mustard. Provolone cheese is a nice touch; also tomato and romaine lettuce. In other words, make a sammich.
Some like to broil their sammich open-faced so the cheese will melt, but others are way too impatient for that. You can spot those kinds of people in traffic–by the way they drive. It will become evident that not only are they impatient, but they are obviously planning to have a bad day. Stay out of their way. Avoid them, and don’t give ’em any pastrami: give ’em baloney. In time you will learn to recognize them anywhere as they are always full of stuff–baloney being a significant percentage of it.
The difference between pastrami and a cigar is that you inhale the pastrami after it is smoked. For those of you that inhale, remember to inhale it into your stomachs rather than your lungs. It will taste better that way, and cut down on the need for Heimlich maneuvers.
If after inhaling, should you find yourself getting a little too high, carefully get down off the table before you fall and break your silly neck!
Today is Valetime’s Day, And I’m preparing dinner for my Valetime. As you know and would expect, I’m quite a chef. I’m going all out tonight–we’re gonna have pastrami sammiches and a nice bottle of Valentime wine. Woof!