Pastrami is a savory snack or sandwich meat that has flavors as complex as a good whiskey. There is a long list of ingredients in the brine, which all add up to the unique nuances of this snack or sandwich meat.
Pastrami is easy to make, as most of the work is done sitting in a brine. Pastrami is smoked, and most recipes finish the meat at higher temperatures on the grill. Because venison is lean and tends to dry out, it is recommended that the pastrami is finished with a water circulator or sous vide. Once you see the magic of long, controlled temperatures from a water circulator, you’ll never do your pastrami another way.
You can eat the pastrami like any fine charcuterie, but make sure to save some thin slices for your next sandwich.
• 4-5 lbs. venison roast, trimmed
• 2 quarts water
• 1 cup packed brown sugar
• ⅔ cup kosher salt
• 1 tablespoon curing salt #1 (aka pink curing salt)
• 2 teaspoons whole yellow mustard seeds
• 2 teaspoons toasted whole peppercorns
• 2 teaspoons toasted whole coriander seeds
• 2 teaspoons toasted fennel seeds
• 1 teaspoon allspice berries
• 2 cinnamon sticks
• 2 bay leaves
• 4 cups ice cubes
• 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
• 2 ozs. Brandy
1. Place a Camp Chef cast-iron frying pan on medium-low heat and add the peppercorns, coriander seeds and fennel seeds. Slowly toast the spices and shake the pan or stir with a wooden spoon. When the spices become fragrant and start smelling toasty, they are done, and you can set them aside to cool.
2. In a stockpot, bring the water to a boil and add the brown sugar, kosher salt, curing salt, mustard seeds, toasted peppercorns, toasted coriander and fennel, allspice, cinnamon sticks and bay leaves. Bring the contents to a boil, stirring until sugar and salt are dissolved. Reduce the heat to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the stockpot from the heat source and let cool for at least 10 minutes. Add the ice to the brine and stir it until the ice melts. The brine should be cool to the touch.
3. Place the venison roasts in a sealable bag or container and add the brine. The roast should be completely covered with the brine and stored in the fridge for three to five days. The brine should be in contact with the entire surface of the roast.
4. On day three or five, remove the roast from the brine and rinse well in cold water. Pat the roast dry with a paper towel and place it on a rack in the fridge for 3 hours to allow it to air dry.
5. Smoke the venison at 180° F for 3 hours, bringing the internal temperature of the meat to 145° F. Remove from heat and brush the roast with brandy and sprinkle with the ground black pepper.
6. At this point, you can continue to smoke the meat and bring the internal temperature up to 160° F, then wrap it tightly in aluminum foil, and continue to smoke the roast at 200° F until the internal temperature reaches 180° F. You will need a meat thermometer to monitor temperatures.
7. Chill the pastrami in the fridge overnight, then slice thin using a meat slicer or sharp carving knife. Make sure to cut the pastrami against the grain of the meat.
*Recommendation for the Ultimate Pastrami Sandwich
After smoking your roast for three hours, use a water circulator, or sous vide, to finish instead of using more smoke. Seal your pastrami in a vacuum seal bag and immerse with an immersion or sous-vide circulator at 150°F for 6 hours. This is an optional step, but it creates a wonderful texture and helps maintain moisture in the finished product.
• 2 slices rye bread
• 6 ozs. sliced pastrami
• 2 slices Swiss cheese or pepper jack
• 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
• 1 tablespoon hot mustard
1. Toast the rye bread and spread mayonnaise on one, and mustard on the other.
2. Place the cheese on the mayonnaise bread, and stack the sliced pastrami on the piece with mustard. Fold the two pieces of bread together and serve with coleslaw and a dill pickle or hot peppers.
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