Perfect Pastrami Sandwich

OK, I admit it… I LOVE Pastrami!

Fifteen years ago I was a bit of a newbie to the food scene.  I mean, I knew about food… Steak, Pizza, Burgers, Ribs, Wings, etc. – but ask me about anything outside of the American mainstream and I was clueless.

Then I visited NYC and did a web search for where to eat in the city.  Classic Jewish deli’s kept coming up as a place that everyone should experience.  I decided that this would be one of our stops and we hopped on the subway to Katz’s.

One look at that Pastrami sandwich and I was blown away…

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Piled high with that pink tinged meat, I knew I had to try one.  Needless to say I was not disappointed.

Fast forward to last month and we were once again in NYC with friends to see the Christmas Spectacular and of course, stop at Carnegie Deli to have a mountain of meat on rye.

After a couple of days back home I decided I needed to try making Pastrami myself so that I could enjoy one of these delicacies anytime I wanted.  So, I began the quest for the best method of making perfect pastrami which I’ll share in another post.

This post is about using that meat to create the perfect pastrami sandwich.

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I like to start with marble rye bread… but for this particular photo shoot, all I had on hand was regular rye.  I begin by buttering one side of each slice and then toast it litely in a small skillet.  This is going to be the inside of our sandwich.

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Next I lay several slices of Pastrami in the skillet and allow it to carmelize some of the fat. while I put a nice portion of deli mustard on the bottom bread.  After the meat is heated through I pile it on along with a couple of slices of cheese.  A nice aged swiss works well here.

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There is a nice layer of juices & pastrami bits in the skillet that I then use to toast the top side of the top bread,  and then put the assembled  sandwich in the pan for final toasting.  I cover it for a minute or two to allow the cheese to melt.

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The pickle jar was empty so I was forced to eat it with a couple of chips.   To be honest, it really didn’t need anything on the side.

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Make Your Own Pastrami – Perfectly

Coming soon – my foray into the world of this wonderful Jewish Deli meat.

In General, there are really only 4 steps:

  1. ‘Corn’ your brisket.  This is just taking a trimmed brisket and brining it for several days in a mixture of pickling spices to create corned beef.
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Make Your Own Homemade Chili Powder

If all you’ve ever used is the store bought ‘wimpy excuse for real ingredient’ chili powder from the usual boring name brands you are in for a real treat!

Not only will this stuff fill in for the generic brands in any of your favorite recipes you’ll find that adding it to any number of other dips, marinades, dry rubs or just an accent on your favorite roasted vegetables it will bring every dish to life.

I discovered this one by accident when my local farmers’ market had bushels of ripe jalapenos available for pennies on the dollar one year.  The first thing to try was making my own chipotle in adobo.  The first mistake I made was being impatient and allowing the heat to rise to 200 degrees or so in the smoker.  The second was that I didn’t realize how long the cooking process would take and ended up canning the chipotles at 4am the next morning.

For the next batch of peppers I decided to just cold smoke and taste to let them tell me where to go next.

Smoking Chili Peppers – Jalapenos / Habaneros

WOW!  These peppers are incredibly tasty and I’m adding them to everything…  Several of them came out dried to a crisp and I immediately put them in the spice grinder and created my own chili powder.  This stuff gets added to every dip I make, sprinkled on homemade chips, fish filets, etc.  The flavor is deep, smokey and like nothing else you’ve tasted.  I’m going for another bushel tomorrow…

Some of the softer ones I sliced and added to my ‘ugly pepper’ liquid after I used the original pepper slices for sandwiches.  These also came out with an incredibly deep flavor.

If you’ve never tried this awesome treat it’s time to jump into the pool.  The taste is incredible!!!

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Build Your Own Cold Smoker

Most of us have some kind of hot smoker that we use to do the ‘low and slow’ BBQ masters method to maintain 200-250 F heat source.  I’m looking to move into the preservation arena (peppers, meats, veggies, cheese, etc) that requires ‘cold smoking’ in the under 120 F range.

I’m a DIY guy so I went looking for a way to build this setup and found some excellent resources.  I love sausage, ham and large cuts of meat so I wanted a setup big enough to hang large cuts of meat in as well as smaller items.

This is the absolute killer setup for anyone who is serious about their smoking…

Perfect BBQ Cold SmokerPerfect BBQ Cold Smoker

See the full article and construction design at Cowgirls Country Life Blog

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Make Your Own Chipotles (Smoking Jalapenos)

Caution: when working with chili peppers, be sure to wear disposable food gloves since the oils from the chili peppers is very difficult to get off of your hands and will burn your eyes and other sensitive body parts.

Get Your Jalapeno Peppers

Choose ripe jalapeno peppers that are firm, fresh, and red and wash and dry them thoroughly. You will get about 1 pound of chipotles for every 10 pounds of jalapeno peppers you use.

Prepare the Jalapeno Peppers

You can leave the jalapeno peppers whole, or if you’d like to reduce the drying time you can cut off the stems and slice the jalapeno peppers open, being careful not to lose too many of the seeds. If you’d like to take away some of their heat, you can remove the seeds and membranes since that’s where a lot of the jalapeno heat comes from.

Smoke the Jalapeno Peppers

Put the jalapano peppers in a smoker and cold smoke them for 8 to 16 hours. If you don’t have a smoker, there are many good kinds available. Or, if you want to make your own smoker, you can find directions here or here.

Make sure your smoker is very clean before you start smoking the jalapeno peppers, otherwise it may impart stale food flavors into your chipotles. You want the peppers to end up black, dry, leathery, and brittle to make sure the flavor will be preserved. Since this can take a long time, many people will finish off the peppers in a food dehydrator or oven (below 200 degrees) over night.

Use or Store Your Chipotles

Store the peppers in a cool, dark, and dry place for up to 6 months. You can also make chili powder by grinding up the dried peppers.

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