The Pastrami Experiment
(disclaimer: All procedures performed here were done by a non-scientist in a non-scientific (but sterile) environment.)
I have only prepared Pastrami once before and it came out very good, so good my freezer is void of any now so I decided to restock it. At the beginning of preparing to restock I decided to mix it up a bit and try something different. And with my new philosophy of “With the price of propane, I’m not going to fire up my smoker unless it’s full” this plan fit well.
So to get started I asked for volunteers for this experiment, my criteria was sets of twins from different walks of life. I had three sets of twins volunteer.
2 Beef Bottom Round Roasts weighing in at just under 4lbs each (I didn’t get a picture of them before so here they are at the beginning of the brining):
The next set was conjoined twins and I had to separate them for this experiment.
Boneless pork Loin weighing in at 4.8lbs separated into two equal pieces:
And two 3lb Boneless Turkey Roasts (white and dark meat):
For the beef and pork I used the same brine recipe:
1 gallon water
1 cup kosher salt
¾ cup brown sugar
2 Tbs black peppercorns (whole)
1 Tbs juniper berries (whole)
1 Tbs fresh garlic
1 Tbs onion powder
1 tsp cumin
1 Tbs cure #1
The brine was simmered to dissolve everything then left to cool before placing in refrigerator overnight to get cold.
I injected 10% of the weight of the beef with the brine and then sealed in plastic bags and into the refrigerator on April 1st.
Using the same brining method as with the beef I prepared the pork the same way and into the refrigerator on April 8th.
For the turkeys I wanted to switch things up a bit so I prepared two different brines:
1 gal water 1 gal water
1 cup kosher salt ½ cup kosher salt
½ cup brown sugar 1 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs black peppercorns (whole) 1 Tbs black peppercorns (whole)
1 Tbs black pepper (coarse grind) ½ black pepper (coarse grind)
1 Tbs fresh garlic 1 Tbs fresh garlic
1 Tbs onion powder 1 Tbs onion powder
1 Tbs juniper berries (whole) 1 tsp cumin
1 Tbs juniper berries (crushed) 1 tsp thyme
2 tsp coriander seed (whole) 1 tsp rosemary
1 Tbs cure #1 1 Tbs cure #1
The brines were both simmered and left to cool before going into the refrigerator overnight to get cold.
I did not inject the turkeys thinking with their small size and that they had already been injected with a 20% solution they would not need it and I didn’t want them getting overly salty. They both went into their own brine and into the refrigerator on April 11th.
While everybody was resting nice and cold I prepared two different rubs. For the rubs I toasted the peppercorns, coriander seeds and juniper berries before grinding them into a nice coarse grind. The rubs are basically the same but one has juniper berries.
10 Tbs black pepper
7 Tbs coriander seed
2 Tbs McCormicks pepper medley
2 Tbs juniper berries (rub 2 only)
April 13th I did a fry test on everybody and they were all a little salty so they got rinsed and into cold clear water overnight.
April 14th and time to start smoking so I rubbed everybody down a little different. (the toothpick indicates which is #1)
The GOSM is holding a pretty steady 220* with a mix of apple and hickory chunks, I will be adding one chunk at a time as they burn out during the day. I have sand in the water pan and another pan of water sitting on top of the sand to try and add a little humidity to the smoke (and catch drippings so I don’t have as much to clean later).
Beef 1 - EVOO and rub#1
Beef 2 - yellow mustard and rub#2
On at 9:04am
Pork 1 - EVOO and rub#2
Pork 2 – yellow mustard and rub#1
On at 9:15am
Turkey 1 – EVOO and rub#1
Turkey 2 – yellow mustard and rub#2
On at 9:42am
It’s been 4 hours (1:15pm) and time to take their temperatures. This part really amazed me. I expected the turkeys to cook faster than everything else but after probing each one of them in multiple places everything was right between 146* and 150*. I had to go check my therm and it was right on at 211* in boiling water. I just couldn’t believe everything was cooking exactly the same. I now placed my remote probe in one of the turkeys to moniter it.
Since the turkeys were over 140* I decided to move the beef to the lowest rack just above the water pan to try and get some steam:
An hour later (2:15pm) and the temps have dropped. I don’t know if it was because I had the door open taking temps at 1:15 (the chamber temp recovered fast after that) or if they hit a stall but the remote was reading 143* so I did a real quick probe of each one and they were all 143* to 145*.
Time to leave them alone, wait and just watch the remote.
For the next 3 hours the temps climbed very slowly and at 5:30pm the beef was at 150* - 157*, the pork (both of them) 152* and the turkey was 155* - 159*. Well that’s enough burning propane so the beef and pork are going into the oven on racks directly above two water pans for some steam. I set the oven at 240* and watched it cycle from 199* to 231*. I guess my digital oven isn’t very accurate.
At 6:45pm after getting everything set up in the oven I checked the turkeys and they were at 170* so I pulled them and wrapped them in foil to rest for awhile before they went back to bed in the refrigerator.
It took another 5 hours for the beef and pork to get to 170* in the oven and they all hit it at about the same time. So by 11:00pm I pulled them out and wrapped them up in foil awaiting the cold bed.
The next day I set up my slicing/bagging station and went to work. Everything came out very nice.
The beef defiantly had two different flavors, it wasn’t that distinct but I could taste something different. Remember one had juniper berries in the rub.
The pork pretty much tasted the same but one seemed a little drier than the other. It has a great flavor and I would probably do it again.
The turkeys had a very different flavor. Remember one had a saltier brine and the other more sugar. I like the salty brined one much better. I’m not really crazy about either though, they don’t really taste like pastrami, more like just turkey without a lot of flavor.
To sum it up, I had a lot of fun doing this. I wasn’t out to try and really make pastrami, just smoke some meat and see what happens. And now I have a whole lot of thinly sliced meat in my freezer that will keep me in sammies for quite awhile:
I’m sure I missed a lot but this was a week ago and I didn’t take very good notes, anyway this experiment was just for the fun of it anyways. Thanks for your time and Happy Smokin’ to everybody!!