Help preparing a brisket for Salt Beef/Pastrami

Discussion in 'Meat Selection and Processing' started by johnnytoobad, Oct 7, 2014.

  1. johnnytoobad

    johnnytoobad Newbie

    I'm attempting to make my first Pastrami from scratch. The first stage is brining the brisket to make corned beef. However I live in London, UK and our butchers aren't familiar with American cuts. It took me a while just to find a butcher who had the whole brisket, rather than pre trimmed and rolled pieces which are much more common. 

    The butcher brought out the whole brisket and I went for the half that wasn't the point end. Attached are some photos of the untrimmed piece. I'm not really sure where to go from here, I presume I need to trim off most of the fat (there are some pretty huge chunks). There are also big bits of fat in the middle of the joint. I thought about separating the pieces but that would leave me with quite a thin cut.

    I'm going to brine for 7 days, smoke, chill and then steam.

    Any suggestions much appreciated.

  2. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Referencing the bottom photo in your post, the lean part on the bottom is the flat. The lump on the top of the right side appears to be part of the point. The leaner flat makes excellent pastrami, as does the point. For ease of processing, I'd go ahead and separate the two, remove as much fat as you can and process them both into pastrami. The flat will yield what I associate with good deli pastrami, very lean and when cooked properly and sliced thin very tender. The point will yield a more fatty, unctuous treat. If I had to choose, I'd say I like the point better, but the lean variety is quite delicious. You have both so you can decide which works for you.

    Here is a point I made into pastrami:

    And here is a flat. Since the flat doesn't have much internal marbling I injected this one with a mixture of beef broth and gelatin. I believe canned consommé with jelly would work too:
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2014
  3. chef willie

    chef willie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I personally have not done a pastrami from scratch, preferring to start with a corned beef. Regardless, I think the Boat Bums got you pointed in the right direction since he has. I always refer to a former members very informative post on this as being very detailed when I want a reference on pastrami. You may find it informative and helpful before starting your project......Willie
  4. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I should point out (pardon the pun) that I haven't done pastrami from fresh beef either and didn't mean to imply I had. The 2 examples I provided were both from pre-corned cuts. I was simply referring to the differences in the parts of the brisket and the relative advantages of each. Sorry for any confusion.
  5. johnnytoobad

    johnnytoobad Newbie

    Thanks for all the advice I've ended up splitting the brisket into two cuts, a flat (left) piece and a point (right and second photo) piece. I've put them in the brine and into the fridge, just a week to wait now!

  6. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Leave a min of 5-10mm of fat cap. You want some fat as you get lots of flavor there and screw the calories as you don't eat it every day. Below is my fav recipe for a spice rub for Pastrami. For the curing brine you can go as simple as Pops Brine or add 30-60ml of Pickling Spice...JJ

    Better 'en NY Pastrami Rub

    2T Turbinado Sugar

    2T Black Peppercorns

    1T Coriander Seed

    1T Dill Seed

    1T Dry Minced Onion

    1T Dry Minced Garlic

    1tsp Allspice Berries

    1tsp Mustard Seed

    1tsp Dry Thyme Leaves

    3 Bay Leaves, crumbled

    1tsp Juniper Berries 

    All Spices are Whole and were toasted in a dry pan over Medium heat until fragrant.

    Let the Spices cool then Grind in a cheapo Coffee Grinder until slightly less than Coarse. The Garlic and Onion do not need to be toasted. If grinding do so only slightly as the Minced size is pretty close to perfect for Pastrami.

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