I’m going back to my roots, so that means salt beef, pastrami, pickles, rye bread, all that good shit. I’ll keep a little diary of my home-curing experiments here.
Attempt #1: Mainly inspired by Tim Hayward’s recent recipe. 2.5kg flat brisket from Jack O’Shea, divided in half. Brine: 4l water, 400g fine table salt, 150g white sugar, 30g prague powder #1, 20g pickling spice (Schwartz), 5g juniper berries, 3 bay leaves. NO garlic. 75g honey. 5 days in fridge. Briefly rinsed. Coated with coarsely ground black peppercorns and coriander seed. An unsupervised smoking over soaked maple chips on the BBQ using 1 bag of coals. When I got back home the internal temperature was 70 degrees (may have gotten hotter). Steamed at 120 degrees for 4 hours in oven using improvised foil steamer but did not work well – became dry, I suspect steam was not circulating properly and was being cooked by dry heat instead. In the end, rescued by steaming over stove in cast iron pan for several more hours. End-result: good flavour, good saltiness, nice understated smoke flavour from the maple – but could be smokier. Texture a little dry. More grey than pink. Here’s a picture of the piece I gave to Tom Baker.
Next time: more prague powder, add garlic to cure, smoke for longer (but cooler) and steam correctly. Perhaps tenderise the meat, and use a fattier cut?
This was eaten, correctly, with Tom Baker’s rye bread, 40% rye – with caraway seeds and some Taylor’s english mustard.
Next up, we do pastrami again, and make heimishe pickles!