Your Thoughts on Flavor ~ Corned Beef, Pastrami, Montreal Smoked Beef

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thirdeye

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I'm not trying to get into a battle of definitions or origins of the above cured meats but I'm curious about the signature flavors you enjoy and why. I can't get beef navel, so let's assume every product uses brisket. Store-bought corned beef is usually saltier and tangier than my home-made version, so I soak it several hours.

For me corned beef has a salty, sweet, sour, spicy, tangy flavor brought on mostly by pickling spices or heavier doses of some ingredients in pickling spices. Pastrami is tangy but a good peppery, garlic, coriander and onion rub is essential. And Montreal Smoked Beef is kind of like pastrami's cousin, its not as tangy but still peppery and can have more garlic and maybe mustard seeds, or other aromatics in the rub.

Here is where the flavors get more specific for me. I enjoy a corned beef, either braised or sous vide or in a pressure cooker. We eat it as a main meat, like with cabbage, carrots and potatoes and for sandwiches. When I make pastrami I prefer to start with corned beef, then build on the 'tangy' flavor with a peppery, garlicky rub and of course smoke. For Montreal Smoked Beef I like to cure the meat with pepper and garlic (but without the corned beef aromatics), then use a pepper, garlic, aromatic rub.
 

kilo charlie

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Well.. I have no idea what Montreal Smoked Beef is.. but I definitely prefer pastrami.. the smoke and the black pepper and coriander just elevate it so much higher than the corned beef alone. Don't get me wrong.. I like me some corned beef as well.. but would take pastrami over it.
 

Smoking at 4am

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Well.. I have no idea what Montreal Smoked Beef is.. but I definitely prefer pastrami.. the smoke and the black pepper and coriander just elevate it so much higher than the corned beef alone. Don't get me wrong.. I like me some corned beef as well.. but would take pastrami over it.
I'm with Kilo, Pastrami all the way. Never had Montreal smoked beef but I think I need to try it now.
 

thirdeye

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Well.. I have no idea what Montreal Smoked Beef is.. but I definitely prefer pastrami.. the smoke and the black pepper and coriander just elevate it so much higher than the corned beef alone. Don't get me wrong.. I like me some corned beef as well.. but would take pastrami over it.
I guess one of the positive pastrami flavors for me is starting with a full flavored corned beef, then adding pastrami rub and smoking it. Verses curing a brisket without those tangy aromatics, and smoking it with pastrami rub. On that note, I prefer dry curing things like bacon, but prefer a wet cure when corning because of all the spices.... I inject and use the remainder as a cover brine.
 
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thirdeye

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Well.. I have no idea what Montreal Smoked Beef is.. but I definitely prefer pastrami.. the smoke and the black pepper and coriander just elevate it so much higher than the corned beef alone. Don't get me wrong.. I like me some corned beef as well.. but would take pastrami over it.

What are you using when making pastrami? Store bought corned beef, or home cured brisket?
 

Hamdrew

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I like both standard spices, but probably heavier on the Montreal smoked meat side in the cure and rub. I actually did a test last weekend of two half racks of dry-cured spares, one cured with pickling spices and just rainbow cracked pepper as the rub, the other not cured with anything but rubbed with the pickling spice. They were not surprisingly similar, but the half cured with spices won unanimously. It actually smelled a little milder, but was more heavily flavored throughout.
 
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thirdeye

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I like both standard spices, but probably heavier on the Montreal smoked meat side in the cure and rub. I actually did a test last weekend of two half racks of dry-cured spares, one cured with pickling spices and just rainbow cracked pepper as the rub, the other not cured with anything but rubbed with the pickling spice. They were not surprisingly similar, but the half cured with spices won unanimously. It actually smelled a little milder, but was more heavily flavored throughout.
That's good feedback. I've never used just pickling spices as a rub but I've ground some as part of a Montreal Beef rub. And I've never added the little packet of pickling spices that come with store-bought corned beef when I braise it. It usually has a strong enough flavor. With my home-made corned beef, I will add a small amount of pickling spices when braising.
 
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kilo charlie

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What are you using when making pastrami? Store bought corned beef, or home cured brisket?
I've done both.. but I by far like buying the corned beef and soaking it for awhile to reduce the saltiness of it then a black pepper and coriander based rub... it's easier that way as it saved the whole corning the beef process and I just find it to be closer to the pastrami flavor I am used to.
 
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Hamdrew

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That's good feedback. I've never used just pickling spices as a rub but I've ground some as part of a Montreal Beef rub. And I've never added the little packet of pickling spices that come with store-bought corned beef when I braise it. It usually has a strong enough flavor. With my home-made corned beef, I will add a small amount of pickling spices when braising.
Pickling spices have become my go-to for a rib rub. I just add some sort of extra chile heat and more pepper. Has a really strong breakfast sausage-y taste to it, which of course is delicious with "bacon-on-a-stick" ribs. I need to order more fenugreek which I think will be the finishing touch.

On a related note, tomorrow will be my first cured rib run where i used maple sugar. I've also been craving a monte cristo, i bet it'll make a mean one.. soon..

(here is that cook thread of the trial, though i think i summed up everything relevant here)
 

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