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PASTRAMI - too dry and too salty

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I used the prepackaged stuff. I soaked THEM for about 5 hours (2, 3 and 4 pounders) in a 30 qt (?) pot changing water once. Cooked for 5+ hours until it hit 165. No foiling no spraying. They were 2 different brands used, O'Donnell's (Giant Food $1.49 point) and Old Fashioned's (Superfresh $1.99 FLAT, CHOICE and $1.29 point). O'Donnell's more fat through out and less salty, so I liked this a little better. I roasted the corriander and black pepper corns in iron skillet and ground in a coffee grinder. I went about 3 - 1 pepper, not bad but next time I'll try about 2 -1 pepper. Did not use any sweet stuff. I could see some brown sugar cutting the salt but I figure it would all be carbonized by the end. - FEEDBACK -

I'm thinking to boil them next time (instead of soaking them) to add some moisture and get more salt out. I'm thinking about a 1/2 hour in that big pot with plenty of water. Somewhere on the web I saw this idea(pre-boiling). - FEEDBACK -

I used hickory pellets & chips but next time will try just oak chips. - FEEDBACK -

I got 7 packs left plus a rain check for 5 more from Safeway so hopefully I'll have this down so I can bring a load for our annual Wachapreague flounder trip in early May. Pink Palace here I come !
post #2 of 11
First off soak them longer and do a fry test to test for salt level. The brand I buy only has 220mg of sodium/4oz and the last one I did was soaked for near 24 hrs. It didn't taste bland at all and I added maybe a tsp of K-salt in the rub and I was thinking next time to leave it out.

We all have different opinons of the finishing temperatures of pastrami. I like to take mine to no less than 195. 200-205 is better IMO. Less than that and they have a firm texture which is okay if sliced very thin but I'm looking for succulent texture that can be cut thicker. Oh and sometimes those flats are just to darn lean.
post #3 of 11
I've only done pastrami from scratch, and have never used the store-bought corned beef briskets.

Definitely do a fry pan test with any cured meat, even if you use someone else's method, as they may like a different salt content than you do.

I don't think boiling will add moisture...probably would do just the opposite. Also, it will likely stop most/all smoke reaction, if you finish in a smoker.

For dryness, I would go into the foil with a dash of extra liquid @ 160*, and run to 200* with flats. For points, foil @ 180*...this will render out a bit more inter-muscular fat...then run to 195*...slicing should be easier due to the fat content in the point, and will aid in moisture retention as well. In either case, foil or tent at finish temp for sure, and rest for a few hours.

Dry rub proportions can be modified to your taste as well...just experiment a little and you'll find what you like. No recipe's are set in stone. If you're trying to duplicate a favorite deli's pastrami, then you'll have to play around with it to find how they do it.

The beauty of doing your own is that you can tailor everything to your liking, so just have fun with it, and by all means keep trying.

Oh, a few thoughts on smoking...with smaller flats/points as you mentioned, I'd try to keep temps down around ~225*...5 hours may have been a tad too quick, so I'd adjust temps accordingly...with larger cuts, a bit higher temp would be OK. Also, I use wet smoke (water pan)...whether this aids in moisture retention or not has been long debated...it's just a bit of insurance, I think. Smoke woods are like the dry rub ingredients...find what you like...if hickory is too sharp for you, then just cut it back with a blend of milder wood(s).

post #4 of 11
The minimum internal temp I would do pastrami is 180 for slicing thin. I like to take mine up above 195 and chill before I slice it. Always nice and tender.
post #5 of 11
I have had meats come out dry and have been able to take some kind of stock and wrap the meat and stock in foil and let it sit overnite to revive. You want to use something that is not going to impact with too much flavor - diluted chicken stock has worked well for me
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 

Let me get this straight I cook to 165 and they're dry and tough but you all cook to

195 and they are juicy and tender. I don't foil my stuff but I'm very new to smoking. Right now the smokier the better.

I had my Royal Oak Electric cookin at about 215 per my Maverick so at what temp should I be cooking at and about for how long should I expect it to take say a 2"+ thick to get to 200 ?
post #7 of 11
Soak and change the water when you can. I soaked a store bought one overnight I think. Fry test works wonders too.

As for too dry, well... I smoke until 160ish, and try to finish in the oven / steamer. I cannot get a good steamer set up going, so I finish in the oven on a roasting dish with water until 185.

The other thing you can do is slice the meat and steam it to warm it up like that. Either with water, OR if you use a steaming method, save that liquid. Even in the microwave I can get great texture / moist meat by addind liquid to the plate of meat.
post #8 of 11

More soak

Just finished one the other day. I did an overnight soak. The 1st soak was for 4 hours with a sliced potato in the water. Changed the water before I went to bed and put another potato in the water. Changed the water in the morning. Put in in for a last soak for an hour. Smoked with oak and alder until 180 then pulled and foiled. Wrapped it in a towel for 2 hours, then into the fridge for an overnight cool. Sliced it thin and it was killer. When I make a sammie, I bring some beef broth to a boil in a small fry pan and drop the strami in it till it's warm. Try it, you'll like it.
post #9 of 11
1st do at least 10 hours with several water changes.. A fry test is not a bad plan either.

Smoke until 140.. Do not smoke too low.. I find with the brisket type meats that there is a point where if you go too long and low, the meat dries out. There is a happy medium. I cooked mine at 235 to 240 and got a nice crust as well.

Oak is a very nuetral smoke. You can easily do a combo to reduce the hickory flavor which can be very strong if your not used to it. It's easy to over do hickory unless your very thin and blue. Tough to do in electric or propane smokers where you really cant burn the wood.. Just smolder it.
post #10 of 11
What is the potatoe for?
post #11 of 11
Potatoes absorb the salt from the water as it leaches back out of the meat...saves on water/ice changes, improving efficiency and effectiveness somewhat.

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