Following a thoroughly fascinating podcast with Gaynor Preece of Spicely Does It, I left the company offices in the High Peak with a present. The box in my possession happened to be a kit containing everything that you need to cure a beef brisket into pastrami. I couldn’t wait to get home and try it out.
Sadly the box doesn’t include a brisket, now that would require a significant level of skill! The choice is yours whether to go for a fatty point end cut or leaner flat cut. I headed to my local butcher to pick up a point end cut which turned out to be a Limousin/Angus cross. The advantage of brisket is that the cut is generally great value for money, a 1.2kg piece set me back £13.
What the box does contain is a curing mix, pastrami spice mix and a curing bag. That’s it. Nothing more complex than that. As far as home curing goes, this process couldn’t really be any easier.
Instructions are clear on the rear of the box and preparation takes little more than a few minutes. The idea is that Spicely Does It aim to put the fun into preparing your own charcuterie. As I rubbed the curing mix and seasoning into every crevice of the brisket, I could envision the final product already.
Once the curing mix has been thoroughly mixed together, it’s a joy to rub it all over the meat. I received the instant reward of a pungent aroma from the spices. The kitchen was starting to take on the smell of a proper NYC deli.
Next step is to slide the brisket into the bag provided. Seal the bag like you would a sandwich bag and place the whole thing onto a plate. The pastrami then goes into the fridge for an agonizing 10 whole days to allow the cure to work its magic. This is the most difficult part of the process by far – the waiting game.
10 days later, it was time for the big reveal. While waiting for the pastrami to cure, I had taken the advice on the back of the box and turned the meat each day. Before the pastrami could be cooked in the oven, I needed to wash off the excess cure and spice mix.
I could already see that the deep red colour had been preserved beautifully by the cure mix. I had to shake on the remaining spice mix and wrap the whole joint in foil to prepare for cooking. Using a bowl, or in my case an upturned shallow baking dish, I managed to elevate the pastrami above the water level in the roasting tray.
The whole tray then gets covered in foil and into the oven it goes. Two hours later, I could finally take off my first slice for a much anticipated taste test. It was absolutely worth the wait, the cure had produced a subtle, salty flavour with the spice mix giving a huge whack of coriander and mustard.
I had the idea to create a sandwich that I had seen across various deli’s in New York. The Reuben Sandwich. Normally, this is done with corned beef. Pastrami, however, provides a unique flavour twist on the original sandwich, so this was the recipe I went with….
Makes 2 Sandwiches
4 Slices of Sourdough Rye Bread
4 Slices of Swiss Cheese
2 tbsp Sauerkraut
6-8 Slices of Pastrami
2 tbsp Butter, softened in order to spread
4 tbsp Russian Dressing (recipe below)
4 tbsp Mayonnaise
3 tbsp Tomato Ketchup
2 tsp Horseradish Sauce
2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp Caster Sugar
½ tsp Smoked Paprika
1. Prepare the russian dressing. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, cover with cling film and set aside in the fridge.
2. Spread one side of each slice of sourdough bread with butter. Place one of the slices onto the base of a non-stick frying pan or griddle. Spread a tablespoon the russian dressing across the non-buttered side.
3. Begin to build the sandwich. Place a slice of cheese on top of the bread followed by a tablespoon of sauerkraut. Top with the 3-4 slices of pastrami and another slice of cheese. Pick up another buttered bread slice and spread another tablespoon of dressing onto the non-buttered side. Place the bread slice on top of the cheese and turn the heat to medium.
4. Allow 3-4 minutes for the base of the sandwich to become golden brown and the cheese on the base to melt slightly. Carefully flip the sandwich over and continue to cook until the bread has turned golden and the cheese has melted slightly.
5. Slice the sandwich in half and enjoy.
Who knew that making your own pastrami was so simple? Not to mention incredibly tasty! The Reuben Sandwich is just one of many possibilities with pastrami, such is the versatility of this great meat. Hot or cold, as it is or as part of a meal, the choice is yours.
Now that there is a way to cure your very own with minimum effort and maximum fun, you have to check out Spicely Does It’s range. Other products include curing your own bacon, chorizo and even making your own sausages and kebabs. Grab yourself a kit and discover something truly brilliant.
You can buy this kit directly by clicking here