Steamed and sliced
I am not going to go on and on about Katz’s deli again. It is enough to merely point out that if you want REAL pastrami then you must go to a REAL delicatessen. Which brings me to the reason I chose to make this dish. Almost everything that is labeled pastrami in an average market, deli and (and this pains me) every outlet in Israel is not pastrami. In fact if you wander into an Israeli supermarket and ask for pastrami you will be shown to a cooler filled with pastrama a term that is attached to any cooked and sliced meat- much like “ham” is used in the U.S. As for the American stuff, it is usually some version of roast beef with some sort of pepper spice rub on the outside. It bears as much resemblance to real pastrami as a Carl Buddig product does to whole cuts of meat.
Now, pastrami is not a quick thing to make. It is a minimum 5 day process that some extend out to two weeks. Your first decision is whether to use a brine or dry cure. A dry cure is more traditional, but a brine cure will impart the same flavor and also boost the liquid content for a more moist cut of meat. The second choice is whether to seek beef plate or use the more commonly available brisket. The third choice is about smoking. You can in fact smoke without a smoker. By using an oven smoking bag or liquid smoke you can get the same flavor as a smoker. Since I really wanted to play with a smoker, and don’t have one, I waited until I was planning a trip to my parents so I could use theirs.
More after the break.
Now that I am veering toward wellness I am going to take you all back one High Holiday to Yom Kippur and my standard Jewish holiday main dish, brisket. This year I had a small group of friends over for a break-fast meal. Almost all of us had fasted, including D. who was fasting and attending services for the first time after marrying a nice Jewish girl last year. He was finding fasting much easier than the rest of us and then he mentioned that he thought it might have something to do with the cafe mocha with whipped cream he had in the afternoon. Apparently, everyone forgot to tell him that drinks were out too. I, for one, was so hungry that I carved up most of the brisket before I remembered to take a photo.
When not enjoying brisket southern BBQ style I go for the slow and low braise of my childhood. Not only that ,but this is one of the rare recipes in which my general disdain for processed foods gets overridden by nostalgia. Yes, I admit it… I use the dry Lipton onion soup mix as brisket seasoning.
Recipe after the jump…
As most of you know Yom Kippur is headed our way on Monday. For many Jews (and most of my family for that matter), this is the one day of the year they end up in a synagogue. We also stay home from work, in order to stick it to the Gentiles, and constantly exclaim at each other things like “you’re watching television? On Yom Kippur?!!” The other main defining feature is the fast. Abstaining from food from sun down to sun down. The general point of this is to spend the day atoning and not be distracted by other facets of life like eating and grooming. I tend to find the opposite effect among my friends and family, in that the fast creates almost unbearable crabbiness and obsession with food. What will the pre-fast meal be and