Cured Meats – Pastrami Phase One

Though it appears that most of my recent charcuterie projects have started with 5 pounds of pork shoulder, I thought it would be good to cure some more meat that isn’t pork-shoulder based.  After all, other meats like curing and spices, too. I settled on pastrami, since it’s a new application for brisket that I’ve not made, and it’s a tasty treat that we don’t see everywhere in the banana belt of Southeast Minnesota.

(Fear not, I’m not abandoning the pig. Remember our Team Bacon cheer:  Forza Pancetta!  Viva Lo Speck!)

Pastrami involves brining, smoking, and roasting or steaming to get from brisket to bliss, so it’s no wonder we don’t see it everywhere.  I’m guessing, however, that the gratification, while non-instant, will be high.  Bob’s pictures on A Hunger Artist suggest it’s a safe bet.

I started by creating the brine, with 4 liters of water and a collection of  salts (kosher and pink curing), pickling spices (bay, pepper, juniper) and sweeteners (brown sugar, white sugar, maple syrup).  I brought it to a hard simmer (OK, I let it boil, because I was distracted by something).  Then I cooled it to room temperature, then put it in the fridge in a large covered plastic container.

Making the Brine

Once the brine was cold, I took my beef brisket and cut it in two equal pieces, so they would fit in the brine bucket.  I then placed the beef pieces in the brine, and weighed them down with a plate, to keep them submerged.  I put the lid on the brine bucket, and returned it to the refrigerator, where it will be for about 2 more days.  Stay tuned, meat fans!

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