Does Grass-Fed Beef Make Great Pastrami?

As you loyal readers of the Accidental Locavore know, last year I was a happy participant in the Charcutepalooza challenge. One of the enduring results was that I now fairly regularly make duck confit, bacon, pastrami, etc. And even though I haven’t done much cooking in the past few weeks (well, I’ll admit to a month), bacon and pastrami were on the menu.

When we got the share of beef from Brykill Farm, I asked if it was possible to include a piece of brisket as part of the package. Susan was happy to oblige, especially because she said that no one asks her for brisket. So with this beautiful hunk of meat, I decided to make another batch of pastrami.

Accidental Locavore Pastrami SandwichIf you have a smoker, it’s pretty easy to do, you just brine the meat for a few days, rinse it, smoke it, and steam over a water bath. More time-consuming than difficult.  And the results are so worth it! No smoker? Just brine it and steam it and you’ll have some awfully nice corned beef. This piece of brisket was pretty lean and, since it’s grass-fed, a little chewy, but really flavorful.  My husband likes his pastrami sandwiches with Russian dressing and coleslaw, which may be a Philly thing. Crazily enough, although we make our own Russian dressing (including the mayo), we end up buying the coleslaw. I’m sure there’s a logic there somewhere.

While I like his version, to me there’s nothing better than pastrami with lots of mustard on a couple of good slices of (seeded) rye. My die-hard New York friends would probably have a fit if they saw me smearing Dijon on it instead of traditional deli mustard, but if they complain, too bad! A couple of good sour pickles and that’s a great lunch! What’s your favorite way to eat pastrami?


If you’d like to make your own Russian dressing, here’s how the latest batch was made:

Mix well: 2/3 cup mayo, 1 big teaspoon ketchup, 2 teaspoons pickle relish (try not to get too much of the liquid, it’ll be too sweet). If you’d like a little kick to it, a good squirt of sriracha (hot sauce) and for this batch I added about 1/2 teaspoon of chopped capers.



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