Friday, September 18, 2009


To those of you that read here, this is probably somewhat of a surprise. Yup, I ventured outside the box. I can't explain why either. I walked by the butcher at the supermarket as they were breaking down these briskets. They were brought out and looked pretty good, actually. So, I got a bug up my ass to make pastrami. Threw it in a brine based loosely on Ruhlman's. 3 days later, she was smoking. Now, I'm not real good at this smoking thing, other than hot smoking the bacon(which anyone can do). I smoked it on the Big Green Egg, which, by itself can present temperature control issues. I read Ruhlman says hot smoke at around 180 degrees. I was shooting for 200. I soaked a whole bunch of hickory to get the fire really good and smoky, and it was. Threw it on right at about 200 degrees.........perfect. However. I removed my T-bone(on the other grill) and went inside to eat, seeing that my temerature was fine, and there was ample smoke. Upon completion of my steak, I returned outside to find the Egg fired up to over 350 degrees. OOPS. Anyway, tinkered with it for the better part of an hour. Only able to get it down to 275, didn't want to play with it too much. Two hours into the process, I decided to probe it. Ruhlman says hot smoke to 150 degrees internal temprature. I figured 2 hours to be roughly halfway. Well, the probe told another story. I poked that poor hunk of meat in about 10 places to confirm I read correctly. My lowest reading was 175 degrees.......What the hell? I removed it and brought it in. The picture is what it looked like 10 minutes out of the smoke. I'm not sure if two hours is the right amount of time, as Ruhlman doesn't offer up any time estimates. But, two hours was enough time tonight to smoke a wonderfully flavored, perfectly cooked pastrami. It looks ok as well. I only just managed to drag myself away from it. But, not before I shoveled about half a pound down my throat. I'm blown away by how delicious this is. I hope I can recreate my comedy of errors to produce another one of these. Seeing as I'm not eating this until tomorrow, I'll steam it then. So, next time you see nice slabs of brisket freshly cut, beware the bug that got up MY ass, or just make pastrami! Oh, also, please excuse my deplorable photography. I bought a new camera, breaking it in. Not that my photos taken prior were anything to write home about.


  1. In the movie Annie Hall, Annie orders a "pastrami on white bread with mayonnaise and lettuce and tomato." Alvy Singer, the other person at the table, involuntarily dry heaves at the thought. Pretty sure I would have reacted the same way.

    Until last week, there was a local store that sold the same pastrami that is served in many New York City delis. They closed the little store and only sell wholesale now. While I like to think I could probably eat a crate of pastrami, 4 out of 5 cardiologists don't recommend doing it. Glad to know that Ruhlman's recipe is decent. That might be my next step. Good pastrami is just something you have to have once in awhile.

  2. Just came home with some bakery rye, still warm. Bought some german stone ground mustard and all the fixins for coleslaw. And, just in case this doesn't do it, I bought another big ole slab of brisket.

  3. I love pastrami. Good pastrami is hard to find in Louisiana. My brother live in NYC and occasionally sends some my way, but not nearly often enough.

    My dad has been making an awesome corned beef for years. I have never taken the time to figure out exactly what he does, but I know that he wet cures it for about 30 days. I'll have to con him out of the recipe.


  4. Hey David,
    I just wanted to throw in my two cents on your smoker. I use an older Imperial Kamado for all my smoking and outside of the shape I'm not sure of the similarities between it and the BGE. Mine is built of an earthenware material where the newer Kamados are more of a refractory cement. I use the Lazzaros lump charcoal in the 50 lb bags sold at restaurant supply stores. There are some large chunks of charcoal in there the size of grapefruits. When I smoke a shoulder I make a small fire of little chunks in a chimney lighter then add a big chunk to the fire grate then put the little chunks on top of it. I can usually keep it right around 200 degrees. I also find that you can set the big chunk to one side and the meat to the other to get it even lower. I have found that once it gets hot in there it is really hard to get it back down.

    Thanks for writing about your adventures.