The Famous Pastrami Sandwich
If you have never had the pleasure of biting into a delicious pastrami on rye bread sandwich, then you are missing out on one of the great culinary offerings ever. This sandwich is super simple yet packs an incredible amount of flavor. It is a staple in NY Deli’s and for good reason, it is delicious. It is normally served as just 2 slices of good rye bread, a stack of thinly sliced meat and mustard. That is it. So simple yet SO delicious. If you have ever seen the movie When Harry Met Sally, the famous “Oh- Oh” scene was filmed in Katz’s deli (possibly the most famous deli in the world) over a pastrami sandwich. We are not convinced that Meg Ryan wasn’t just reacting to the sandwich while filming that scene if you know what we mean….
What is Pastrami?
Pastrami is a meat that was given to the world in ancient times by our friends in Turkey. It is a piece of meat, usually brisket that is brined, dried off, seasoned, smoked, and steamed. There are other cuts of meat such as Beef plate ribs, beef round and even turkey that can be used but for me, brisket is king. It is a meat that is prepared much the same way that a corned beef is done but only for the brining part of the process.
You can start with your own beef brisket and brine it. It is a process with lots of ingredients and takes about 7 days. For our example, we took the easy way out and used a store bought corned beef, desalinated it and seasoned it. This is a much shorter process and with it being around Saint Patrick’s Day, there is a ton of corned beef in the stores and it is usually on sale. All of this combined makes using store bought corned beef my go to way to make pastrami.
When using a store bought corned beef, it is paramount that the meat gets desalinated or the pastrami will be overpowered with saltiness. The prepackaged corned beef that we get at the store comes in a brine solution that is packed with salts. To make a proper pastrami, we must remove all of those salts. The recipe provided covers the process, so I won’t go into it again but DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! If you do, you will surely make a pucker face when you take your first bite. Nobody likes a pucker face.
You will find many different recipes for pastrami seasoning and the one that I use here is a mixture of a few different recipes I have come across, along with a few of my own twists. Each of the components of the rub are important so try your best not to skip anything. If you don’t want to crush your own seeds, you may use powders, but it will give a slightly different flavor and will be lacking in texture that good pastrami has.
I have seen numerous different ways to prepare the pastrami and what I have shared with you here today is the method that I have found works best. The first step is to slow smoke the pastrami. You can use your choice of smoking woods, but I have found that Cherry wood works well or the Bourbon Barrel Blocks are just as good to use. Both will give a slightly sweet flavor and will help build the bark and the flavor.
Smoking the pastrami is only the first step, from there it is up to you as to how you would like to finish it off. You could wrap it in foil or butchers’ paper like a brisket and you will have a perfectly fine pastrami. The way that the NY Deli’s do it and the way that I prefer is to steam it for the second half of the cook. It makes the meat incredibly tender and extremely moist. It is really not much more work, and it will make a far superior end result. You know, happy taste buds!
Serving the Pastrami
To serve, you could simply slice the pastrami (across the grain of course) and plate it like that. The preferred way and most popular is on a sandwich. Now, with a meat with this much flavor, we do not want to do anything to cover that up. We like to keep this sandwich as simple as possible. The most popular way id to get some good rye bread, coat one side with mustard, (spicy or golden, your choice) pile as much meat as is humanly possible on the bread and serve it just like that. I know it doesn’t sound like much but trust me, you’ll be smiling from ear to ear.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are other ways to serve pastrami. One of my other favorite ways to enjoy pastrami is on a pastrami Reuben sandwich. My only problem is that some of the tasty meat gets covered up by the sauerkraut, dressing and cheese. The good news, it is still delicious!
We hope that you enjoy this recipe and hope that you have a very Happy St Patrick’s Day. When you make this, please give us a shout in your social media posts. Tag us and we just may feature you on our story! Until next time, get out and grill and we will see you the next time on The FOGO Life.
- For prepackaged corned beef, it requires desalinization. To do this, follow these steps. Remove the corned beef from the package and rinse it under running water. Place the corned beef in the BBQ Prep Tub and cover it with water. Place the covered tub in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours, turning the meat and changing the water at least twice.
- Fill your grill with FOGO Super Premium and prepare it for smoking indirect at 250°.
- Place the first 3 ingredients for the rub into a plastic baggie and crush them with the bottom of a pan or meat hammer until they are crushed but not turned into powder. Combine with the rest of the rub ingredients and stir well to combine.
- Remove the desalinated corned beef from the prep tub. While it is still damp, apply the rub all over the meat, covering it completely. Place the Meater thermometer into the center of the meat and set it for 165°.
- Place 2-3 Bourbon Barrel smoking chunks on your fire and place the meat in the center of the grate. Allow it to smoke until 165° or until the meat has a solid, dark bark on it. Remove it from the grill and open the grill vents to increase the temperature to 500°.
- In the Dutch oven, place a wire rack inside so that it sits an inch or two off of the bottom of the pot. You can make balls with aluminum foil to raise the rack up. I used the rack that comes with the Trompo King on our website. Place the meat on the rack and pour water underneath the meat so that the water level is just below the bottom of the meat. Place the Dutch oven back on the grill and steam until the meat is probe tender and the probe slides in with no resistance. (about 2 hours) Remove from the grill, slice, and serve.
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