Pastrami is usually made by brining, smoking, and then steaming brisket or other types of meat. By using sous vide instead of steaming, the meat will be more tender and juicy. Brisket, especially if it is lean, is prone to dryness. It is amazing how good a result you can obtain by using a simple stovetop smoker and smoking for 15 minutes only.
1250 grams (2.75 lbs) beef brisket (net weight after trimming)
2 Tbsp smoking dust
1 tsp cornstarch
15 grams (2 tsp) table salt (1.2%)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground coriander seed
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp mustard powder
Trim away any excess fat. You could leave everything on, but I prefer to leave just 2 millimeters (1/12 inch).
Combine the ingredients for the dry rub in a small bowl…
…and stir to mix.
Rub the meat with the dry rub on all sides. Allow the meat to dry cure for 1-2 days in the refrigerator. I like to vacuum seal the meat for this step, as it is easier to find a space for it in the refrigerator. But on a plate covered with plastic wrap is also fine.
Prepare the stovetop smoker with 2 tablespoons of smoking dust. Take the cured meat out of the refrigerator (and out of the bag if you vacuum sealed it).
Smoke the brisket for 15 minutes from the first smoke you see. This is also when you close the vent.
The brisket will still be raw on the inside. The smoking step is just to get a smoky flavor on the outside.
Allow the smoked brisket to cool off…
…before vacuum sealing it.
To be on the safe side I scalded the meat for 10-20 seconds in boiling water, to avoid any risk of a bad smell that can occur when cooking sous vide for a long time below 60C/140F. After the dry curing and smoking that is probably not necessary, but better safe than sorry.
Cook the brisket sous vide for 48 hours at 57C/135F.
After sous vide cooking, pour the liquid from the bag into a saucepan. Allow this to cool somewhat, and then add a teaspoon of cornstarch. (Instead of waiting for it to cool off, you could also make a slurry by mixing the cornstarch with 2 teaspoons of cold water until smooth, and then adding this.)
Stir the cornstarch into the liquid until there are no more lumps.
Bring this to a boil, stirring, and simmer until the sauce has thickened.
For a nice crust you could sear the meat briefly over high heat. This can be done with oil, but preferably beef tallow or clarified butter. Do not sear for longer than 30-60 seconds per side, to avoid drying out the meat.
Slice the meat. Because it is so tender, it is not essential to slice against the grain. It does look the prettiest though.
Serve the sliced brisket on preheated plates with the sauce.
This pasta and leeks casserole is Italian comfort food at its best. It is easy to prepare and very creamy and tasty.