Feb 8, 2012

Elk Pastrami

About a week ago, I experienced a sudden craving for a Rueben sandwich.  I briefly considered traveling down to the city to get one.  But no, in spite of the availability of a great pastrami sandwich in NYC, the dining experience leaves much to be desired.  I've got gobs of meat in the deep freeze at home anyway - half an elk, quarter of a cow, about 20 chickens.

It took a few days to come to fruition, but yesterday I enjoyed an excellent Rueben sandwich with elk pastrami and rye bread I made at home.

This is my first project from the Michael Ruhlman/Brian Polcyn book Charcuterie I received for Christmas.  I basically followed the recipe in the book, with some minor adjustments:

-I made half a gallon instead of a whole gallon of brine, and I left out the honey.  
-I used a super lean hunk of elk shoulder instead of a more fatty cut of beef.
-I coated the meat with olive oil before adding the spice crust.
-I used about three times the amount of coriander and black pepper to cover the meat than the Ruhlman recipe calls for.  
-I smoked for 2.5 hours with no regard to the internal temperature of the meat.  I didn't see why that mattered since I'd be slow cooking it in my oven after smoking.

The results were somewhere between very good and excellent.  Probably would have been excellent if I'd used a fattier piece of meat.  I will definitely make pastrami again.

Follow the link below to see exactly how I made the pastrami.
3.5 pounds of elk shoulder, curing salt, brown sugar, white sugar, kosher salt, pickling spices and garlic.

Add a couple quarts of water.

Bring to a simmer.

Refrigerate brine to cool.

Toss meat in.

Let brine for three days in the fridge.

Rinse meat.

Dry meat.

Grind a lot of black pepper and coriander.

I wonder if my husband will notice some new flavors in his coffee tomorrow.

Coat the meat with oil.  I did this mainly because elk meat is so lean.  I though this might help keep it from being too dry.

Coat with pepper/coriander mix.

Cover smoking tray with aluminum foil and plop meat on it.

I smoked the pastrami in my mini chief for 2.5 hours 'cause that's how long a pan of hickory chips lasted.

After smoking, but before the real cooking.

I placed the pastrami in my enameled dutch oven and added a little water - again, just to try and keep it moist.

I added the smoking pan drippings.

I cooked it in the oven at 275 degrees for four hours.

Hot pastrami!  

It was just the right tenderness - not falling apart, but easy to slice.

Adding some pan juices - too salty!

I did it all for this, a Rueben sandwich.

I'll be having another one for dinner tonight!

This is the first sandwich rye loaf I've made...but that's another blog posting.

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