Home made pastrami

Pastrami

Just look at it

Pastrami is just brined and smoked corned beef. It’s easy to make and it just takes a few days from start to finish.

The version is from Ruhlman and Polcyn’s Charcuterie book.

Here’s what you need.

  • A good quality piece of brisket (or beef plate if you can get that) – about 2kg
  • Coriander seeds
  • Black pepper

For the brine:

  • 4L water
  • 350g sea salt – or other salt without caking agents.
  • 225g sugar
  • 90g Muscovado sugar – or other soft brown sugar
  • 42g curing salt #1 (pink salt)
  • 8 grams pickling spice – you made a load up last time I hope? Just grab the jar off the shelf. If you didn’t – mix black peppercorns, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, allspice berries, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, cloves, ground ginger, blade mace and chilli flakes in a pestle and mortar. Or just buy some ready made pickling spice.
  • 60ml honey
  • 5 cloves of garlic, crushed.

Prepare the meat for brining:

  • Trim off all the surface fat from the meat. It’s worth taking your time over this. The final product can be a bit chewy in places if you leave it on. I didn’t take enough off the one in the main picture, so I’ve learned a lesson.

Then make the brine.

  • Put all the brine ingredients into a large saucepan.
  • Bring the brine to a boil, and then simmer until everything’s dissolved.
  • Let it cool, then put it in the fridge to chill.
  • Once it’s chilled, put your brisket into the brine. You can use another container if you can’t get the pot in the fridge. Weigh it down with something (a plate?) so that the meat is totally submerged. This is important.
  • Refrigerate it for 3 days
  • Take the beef out of the brine and throw the brine away. It’s done its job.
Brisket after brining

Brisket after brining

  • Dry the beef with kitchen paper. Make sure it doesn’t stick to the meat.
  • Blitz equal amounts of coriander seeds and black pepper in a coffee or herb grinder, or use a pestle and mortar if you want to make a mess and waste an hour. You need enough to cover the meat evenly.
  • Coat the meat with the coriander and pepper mixture
Brisket before smoking

Brisket before smoking

Now you’ve got options:

If you have a hot smoker, smoke that badboy until it’s 150F in the middle, as slowly as you can so it gets loads of smoke on it.

or if you don’t (I don’t, yet) you can cold smoke it, and then finish it off in the oven until it hits 150F in the middle. I tend to put it on a rack above an inch of water when it’s in the oven.

Once it’s cooked, wait until it cools, then slice it thinly. Serve it on good bread, with mustard, sauerkraut and gherkins. Or just stand there and keep shoving slices into your face. It’s bloody amazing.

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How to make a shooter’s sandwich

Shooter's sandwich - the perfect picnic food?

Shooter’s sandwich – the perfect picnic food?

I went fishing yesterday so I thought I’d make a shooter’s sandwich to take with me. Traditional fare for Edwardian hunters, it’s perfect to take with you when you’re hunting or fishing or just having a picnic. And it’s dead easy to make, like most things it just needs a  little time.

It needs:

  • A nice round crusty loaf
  • A couple of steaks
  • Shallots
  • Mushrooms (about twice the amount of shallots you have)
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Mustard and horseradish
  • A bunch of chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • A clove of garlic (optional)
  • Butter (definitely not optional)
  • Greaseproof paper
  • Tinfoil
  • String

To make it:

  • Finely dice all the mushrooms and shallots (and garlic, if using), add a big knob of butter and gently fry in a large pan, until the mushrooms have lost most of their moisture.
  • Season the mixture with salt, loads of black pepper and the Worcestershire sauce. Add the chopped parsley, mix it up nicely and set aside for now.
  • Cut the top off the loaf to make a lid, and scoop out most of the inside (save the rest to make breadcrumbs, or just nibble on it as you do the rest, or take it fishing)
  • Season and fry the steaks until (at most) medium rare (if you like your steaks well done you can show yourself out now).
  • Tuck one freshly cooked steak into the bottom of the hollowed out loaf, and cover it with the mushroom mixture.
  • Put the other steak on top of this.
  • Spread loads of mustard (I use Dijon) and horseradish onto the top steak and on the inside of the lid.
  • Pop the lid back onto the loaf,
  • Wrap the loaf up in the grease proof paper and tie it up tightly with string.
  • Wrap it all in tinfoil
  • Get a chopping board, or a baking tray (basically something flat), put that on top of the filled loaf and weigh it down with lots of weight. Food tins, books, whatever you can find.
  • Put it somewhere cool and leave it for about 4 or 5 hours, or preferably overnight, until it’s compressed.
  • Unwrap from the foil, and cut through the grease proof paper.
  • Tuck in!

Is it the best sandwich in the world? I have no idea, but it’s one of my favourite foods to take fishing. I could live off one of these for a weekend 🙂

Shooter's sandwich mise en place

Shooter’s sandwich mise en place

Frying the mushroom and shallot mixture

Frying the mushroom and shallot mixture

Hollowing out the loaf

Hollowing out the loaf

With the first steak and the mushroom mixture in

With the first steak and the mushroom mixture in

Smearing horseradish on the second steak, mustard on the inside of the lid

Smearing horseradish on the second steak, mustard on the inside of the lid

Wrapped in paper and tied

Wrapped in paper and tied

Added the weights

Added the weights

After pressing

After pressing

Shooter's sandwich - the perfect picnic food?

Results!

Making demiglace

Demiglace ingredients

Demiglace ingredients

I love making stock.

So much so that I’m currently banned from making any more as I’ve run out of room. I tend to have a fairly decent stash of various types in the “overflow” freezer. Lamb, Beef, Pork, LOTS of chicken, duck, fish, and of course a nice stash of demi glace. That is something I can’t be without now, demiglace transforms lacklustre sauces into something else entirely, adding lots of depth of flavour. It’s a silver bullet for sauces and gravy. That, and butter of course.  It’s probably why restaurant sauces taste so good compared to home cooked versions, even if you follow the recipe to the letter.

But it takes a long time to make demi glace, and lots of room, and patience. I make it about twice a year. I like having something cooking slowly all weekend, plus it makes the house smell great. Nice and Beefy.

I got this recipe from Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles cookbook. You will need some BIG stockpots for this. I bought a huge one precisely for this purpose from a shop in Leicester (Melton road to be precise) – it’s like an Aladdin’s cave – go down the stairs and it’s full of all sorts of wonderful stuff. More on that another time.

  • I order veal shin (or marrow bones) from JTBeedham butchers in Sherwood, Nottingham. I’ll call up a few days beforehand and ask him to keep some aside for me when he breaks down the cows. I get him to saw them up into more manageable pieces for me too.
  • Then I buy a shedload of carrots, onions and celery. And some tomato puree.
  • I smear the bones in tomato puree, sprinkle on some flour and swizz them all about to cover them in it.
  • Then I peel the veg, which totals about 30% volume of the bones, made up of 50% white onion, 25% carrot and 25% celery.
  • Roast the bones in a 180C (ish) oven, jiggle them about from time to time to get them nicely covered. Don’t burn them otherwise you’ve lost.
  • Pop the chopped and peeled veg into another oiled roasting pan (or two). Roast that lot until it’s nicely browned on the edges, but not burnt.
  • Once that’s done – your house should smell very beefy. Nice. Put everything into a huge stockpot (or two) and fill it with cold water. Add some Thyme sprigs, black peppercorns and a few bay leaves. Bring that lot up to a simmer, but DON’T LET IT BOIL.
  • Simmer it as slowly as you can lot for 10 or so hours. TEN HOURS. Occasionally skim off any scum from the top.
  • Then strain it all through a chinois, or through some muslin in a seive, as many times as you can be bothered. The more the better. Let it cool down. You now have a basic brown beef (or veal) stock. I tend to keep some of this back and freeze it. You never know when you need some beef stock. Mmm, beefy.
  • Then put red wine equal to about a quarter of the volume of stock there is into another stockpot, add a few finely chopped shallots and reduce it over high heat by half. Then add the stock you have left to it. bring it up to a simmer, again – don’t boil it!
  • Let that reduce down slowly for a few hours, until it’s super-reduced, but not really sticky. It’s normally Sunday afternoon by this point for me, if I start on a Saturday morning.
  • Once it’s nice and reduced, take it off the heat and run it through the chinois (or muslin) again a few times. Then store it. I put it into ice cube bags and freeze it. That way I can pop a beefy ice cube out of the freezer at any time.

I know it takes a while to make, but this stuff is great.

Here’s what I end up with after a weekend’s worth of reduction. Essence of beef. All those bones and veg (less about a pint or so of “normal stock” I pinched for the freezer) got me a litre of demi. Totally worth it.

 

Demiglace yield

Demiglace yield