Tag Archives: Corned Beef

Pastrami or Corned Beef? Either way, it’s delicious!

28 Apr

We’d purchased a half cow and as I unloaded the packets of meat into our freezer from my giant ice chest (beer cooler is the proper nomenclature hereabout) I came across the brisket.  While providing cutting instructions to the butcher, I mentioned that I was especially interested in a nice center cut brisket because I wanted to make pastrami.  She thought that was interesting and I ended up with a nice, fatty, well-marbled hunk of beef, perfect for pastrami.

I’d already brined, simmered and roasted corned beef and was so impressed with the results that I had to try pastrami and learn more about these two methods of preserving the same cut of meat.  What’s the difference?

Well, using recipes from the Charcuterie book the brines are a bit different, the pastrami brine contains more ingredients, it sits in brine for less time and is hot-smoked (best if done for a long time slowly getting up to temp) versus simmered on the stove as is the corned beef.  Along with the hot smoke, the pastrami is covered in a coriander/pepper crust and prior to eating, it should be slow roasted in the oven at low heat over a water bath to reheat and re-hydrate it.

Heck yeah, we made Reuben’s!

Recipe for Reuben Sandwiches:

Rye bread
Sauerkraut
Russian Dressing (see recipe below)
Thinly sliced pastrami
Swiss cheese

We slathered the sliced bread on one side with butter placing it face down on a preheated pan.  Stack the cheese, pastrami, sauerkraut as thickly as you’d like and put a nice dollop of dressing on top.  I added another slice of Swiss cheese to melt into everything and hold it all together.  Top with another slice of bread, buttered on the outside.  Grill sandwiches to a light brown (mine were too dark but still very edible).

A neighbor of mine has perfected homemade caraway rye bread and also ferments cabbage to make his own sauerkraut.  I might be able to talk him into making some Swiss cheese too.  I hope to visit him and write a post about all of the wonderful food he creates…  This guy is an expert Breadmaker and Cheesemonger.  Maybe if I make some more Pastrami he’d be willing to trade for some bread and cheese… This is the beauty of eating locally and getting to know all of your neighbors!

Russian Dressing adapted from this recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/the-best-of/zingermans-reuben-sandwich-recipe/index.html

1 Cup Mayo
¼ Cup Crystal Louisiana Pure Hot Sauce
2 Tablespoons Sour Cream
½ small red onion minced
2 Tablespoons sweet relish
¼ Cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1 Tablespoon prepared horseradish
A couple of shakes of Worcestershire sauce
A squeeze of lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

The ability to source quality meats (humanely raised) allows the freedom to make all kinds of amazing preserved food that prior to joining the Charcuterie Challenge I may never have tried.  The rewards are hugely empowering and the flavor is hands-down amazing.

Once you try the recipe, it’s easy to play with the spices and flavors to your own taste.  I never thought I could make pastrami or bacon and now that I have the know-how it has opened up all kinds of possibilities in my kitchen – no longer am I dependent on the deli…  And as they say, if you start with the best ingredients you will end up with the best food.  To that end, learning to make my own pickling spice is next, I have a feeling I’ll be using a lot of it this summer.

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The case of the missing corned beef…

15 Mar

The March Charcutepalooza challenge was up on the Internet (challenge #3).  Brining, okay, I’m familiar with brining.  I would do chickens, very large chickens, brined for the appropriate time, rinsed and left to dry in the refrigerator for a nice pellicle and then smoked to perfection.  No worries, got lots of chicken in the freezer.

But then I came across some grass-fed brisket at C and F Meats, Co., Inc., in College Grove, TN.  I purchased a nice, center cut, well marbled five pound beef brisket following the brining instructions in the Charcuterie book to the LETTER.

The first thing I made was the standard cabbage, potatoes and carrots with the corned beef adding a little local honey and some stone-ground mustard, salt and pepper to taste.  Nothing special or creative in this traditional dish, I just craved it and wanted to see if it was different with the home brining.  It was.

Once the beef was cooked, I had to hide it in the fridge from Mr. Pink Guitar.  The dude would have just stood there at the refrigerator with the door open gnawing bites off the remaining hunk of meat until it disappeared.  He was told it was off-limits pending special recipes…

I made a soup with the cooking juices and the remaining vegetables, adding chicken stock, coconut milk, rice noodles, celery, more carrots and cilantro.  It disappeared in short order

We tried grilled sandwiches with rye bread, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut and delighted in all of the sweet and salty flavors and the wonderfully spicy notes brought about from the bay leaves, allspice, peppercorns and mustard seeds.

I was ready to execute MY special recipe.  I’d spent time taste testing the meat and thinking about how to give it a fresh, spring twist.  I had a plan and was ready to go.

But the night before I was to make my special tasty treat, it was gone, the meat, gone.  Used on pizza.  Gone.  Mr. Pink Guitar likes to make pizza.  I asked him about it and he said “you can just make another brisket”.  Uuh, it was 1 day before the deadline to post the results.  Ya think Mr. Pink Guitar considers it easier to ask for forgiveness than permission?

I have asked Mr. Pink Guitar if he would like to share his corned beef pizza recipe with you.  He says he will, so I suppose we patiently wait in anticipation of his recipe and pictures.   To his credit, he is very busy with a “real” full-time job and another full-time job on the farm in addition to playing music on Broadway in Nashville every other Sunday at Layla’s Bluegrass Inn.

So, if you learn how to brine or corn beef brisket, you will never have a problem wondering what to do with it.  It will not last long, you may have to hide it.  Even from people that don’t explore the far reaches of the refrigerator, you know the ones I’m talking about – those that think the fridge cleans itself out, those who don’t “go there” with leftovers?  So, I suppose I’ll be corning more beef!  MY recipe will be posted later.  The Chicken?  Yeah, eclipsed by the beef.  That post will come later too.

Innocent parties regarding the meatwagon (those that don’t sneak corned beef): Burley, Sophie, Lucy, Jack, Jane… Kids walking the Greats~!

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