Hot pastrami on rye is best known as the iconic New York’s 2nd Ave Deli dish. I haven’t been there, and I may never get there, but I thought I could make a damned good attempt to create my own , and as it happens no-one was disappointed writes Sandra Tate…In the middle of the week I got myself 2kg of beef brisket and prepared my brine. To assess how much brine you need it is best to place your brisket in a snug container and immerse it in water – now drain off the water and measure how much water you have. In the instance of my piece it was 2.5 litres, I brought this to the boil and I added 200g sea salt, 20g Prague powder, 120g white sugar, 80g dark brown sugar, 2 tsp pickling spice and 3 large cloves garlic, crushed. Once completely cooled I immersed the brisket, weighted it with a can of tomatoes, and popped it in the fridge to cure for 4 days.
Remove the brisket and rinse very thoroughly before patting completely dry on kitchen paper. Dispose of the brine. Set up the Bradley Smoker to a cabinet temperature of 125°C/260°F, filling the stack with apple or cherry wood bisquettes. Make a dry rub from 1 rounded tbsp coriander seeds & 1 rounded tbsp mixed peppercorns (or just black peppercorns if you prefer) – grinding them with a pestle and mortar to a coarse rub – and pack them across the upper surface of the brisket. Transfer to a Bradley wire shelf and smoke for 3 hours. We now have the signature pastrami smoke flavour but the joint needs to become more tender.
Wrap the pastrami in foil and continue to cook at 125°C/260°F in the oven for a further 2-3 hours until it is very tender. When you cut into the meat it will have that rose red appearance from the cure. I make my own bread so we had excellent fresh, crusty rye from the oven to pile our hot pastrami on, but most good supermarkets will have some and if not, good wholemeal will have to do. I also made a warm salad of mixed peppers, chilli & tomatoes with a cooling avocado, rocket & basil garnish. It is truly worth the effort, absolutely delicious, and equally so served very thinly sliced, cold from the fridge.