Robert Goodrick’s Pastrami/Pastrama

Robert Goodrick’s Pastrami/Pastrama

Robert posted this gem on West Coast Charcuterie Symposium

Now while I know that most (North Americans) know far more than I will ever know on the pastrami and each and possibly everyone will have their own favourite piece of meat, rubs and cooking process.

In the beginning of 2014 a very good and close friend Thomas De Montroig was up from Richmond, Virginia (his grandfather created the Memphis rub) for a visit to learn more of the whys and wherefores of what and how I do things — within that visit we had a chance to go to one of the food shows that was on within the city along with the Chef.

Part of the criteria was to look and sample different things that we may or may not use at the Club as we have limited space for producing things — on the list of pastrami, the challenge for me by going to these functions is to see what is out there and to see if anything will get my senses flowing for something new.

Kevin (Chef) on the other hand was I believe looking for things that he could use as ‘good wholesome food’ rather than the ‘chicken nuggets’ that most places seem to cater to.

On doing the circuit around the show Kevin started to sample some Montreal-style smoked meats as well as some Pastrami. There was banter going on between the two of us on trying to see/find out which of the dozen or so which one was the best …… sadly to say nothing hit the mark or in my case came anywhere close to what I had sampled at my son’s place when we were back in Toronto and even that I felt I could do better.

All the products that Kevin and I sampled were good in their own rights …. if that’s what people are all about and like the run of the mill things (so to speak).

On returning to the Club we had a discussion over coffee on the pros and cons on what we had tasted ……. Too dry in most cases and a lot of them were lacking flavor, as there was no ‘wow’ factor involved. It seemed like most (if not all) was like ‘slam, bam, thank you mam lets get it out the door” thing. Nothing to say ‘I want/need more’, no lingering flavor tantalizing the flavor buds in the mouth long after it had been eaten.

At this point I knew that I could do better as I had and did produce an awesome corned beef with a flavor profile when I owned my shop. My problem was to transpose that flavor into something that was a solid muscle that could be sliced thinly without shredding like mine did.

The challenge came within less than half an hour from Kevin; off he goes to the freezer and pulls out what he thinks is a beef brisket and tells me to make something good Pastrami/Montreal smoked meat out of it. It seemed that we were back to the days when he and David Long ran the kitchens at the Terminal City Club and ‘always’ turned out awesome food.

So back to my place with the beef where it sat in my freezer while I did some research on Montreal Smoked beef … problem was after checking I did not have a piece of beef brisket but a piece of beef flat … two totally different animals and from one end of the beef to the other. After much tooing and froing with Kevin I was told quite politely to work my ‘magic’.

After much discussion with Tomas (in my mind a great food historian) checking and tracing back in time we find that Pastrami is a North American thing and seems to originate from Romania and is a way of drying/preserving/curing meat for long keeping.

With this in mind I went ahead and made up a cure that would be rubbed onto the meat after which I would vacuum pack it for at least three weeks as a EQ cure — on a side note on the EQ cure; this item was left in cure for close to six months due to circumstances beyond my control — and yes it was fine.

Tomas and I came up with a rub (spice combination) that we believe complimented the area and time (see my disclaimer) for cooking — cooking for me presented a challenge as I am in no ways a cook/Chef or anything close to the words ……..Because after talking to Tomas I knew I had to do “low and slow” so I rubbed the meat with the spices after the initial cure time and wrapped the meat in several layers of foil to keep the moisture around and hopefully within the meat — time for cooking in a convection oven with low fan was 3 hours at 185 degrees F when the core temperature of the meat attained a reading of 122 degrees F whereupon it was taken out and left to rest still probed with a final reading some 5 hours later of 168 degrees F.

The result was a big hit all round

EQ cure — 3 weeks
1.9% Smoked salt
0.25% Cure #1
1.25% Whole pickling spice (ground with mortar and pestle)

**Whole pickling spice

4.5g Coriander seeds
12.5g Mustard seeds
8.5g Black peppercorns
5g Cloves
4g Allspice berries
3.5g Dried red chillies
2.5cm Cinnamon stick
3 large Bay leaves

Spice rub for cooking — ground with mortar and pestle

30g Whole black peppercorn
30g Whole mustard seed
20g Whole coriander
10g Whole fennel seed
10g Whole cloves
5g Whole allspice

As I have said before and will again …. this is what myself and my good friend came up with after doing some research —- it is “not” the only way but another way that this item can be done.

The sheet is uploaded below the photos.

Kevin’s Pastrami_Pastrama 2020

Last Word of Advice

Robert gave me this last bit of advice.  “Normally one cooks on a bbq in a convection style … low heat on one side and the meat on the other side where there is no heat being generated. This allows for a long, slow cook along with a light smoke …. usually about 5 – 6 hours to an internal temperature of 145*f then wrapped in butcher paper and heavy cloth to keep the heat in as the temperature rises to 160*f …. this way it keeps all the moisture within the meat making it juicy and delicious even when cold. Because I’m not yet set up with a hot smoker I do mine in the oven as I was taught to do my gammons”

Further Reading

The strange story of how pastrami got to the Jewish deli.