Friday, October 5, 2012

Beef Short Rib Pastrami Reuben Sandwiches

I have spent the last year trying to raise my talent level when it comes to smoking and curing various types of meats and sausages. It is amazing how much better home cured meats are in comparison to the majority of stuff you buy at stores and deli's.

I am an absolute corned beef and pastrami fiend. One recipe that has been a big hit has been making pastrami or corned beef out of beef short ribs. You can corn/pickle any cut of beef but traditionally the brisket is what you use for corned beef and the tougher navel cut of the brisket is what is reserved for pastrami.

I like using short ribs for pastrami because they have better marbling than todays briskets and they don't have the gristle associated with the navel cut. Better marbling means better flavor. It creates a product that absorbs and distributes the smoke and spices better.

Texture is another big part of why this recipe is so special. When you slow cook a beef short rib good things happen as everything begins to break down. The texture of the final product is very similar to a firmer pot roast with more surface area to develop more crust and intense flavors.

This recipe is pretty simple. You assemble your own blend of pickling spices and briefly toast them in a frying pan to wake up the flavors. You then make a couple of quarts of seasoned brine with the spices and marinate the meat for a few days until it is pickled/cured.

The not so secret ingredient to this brine is either pink salt or a product called Morton's Tender Quick. The nitrates are what helps preserve the meat and gives it the vibrant looking red color corned beef and pastrami is known for.

You can also achieve similar results by using a dry curing rub on the short ribs. I've made it both ways and so far the majority of tasters have picked the pickle/brine method as their favorite because I think it is less intense and salty.

The Tender Quick Brine

2 quarts of water
2 cups Morton Tender Quick
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp whole coriander
1 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp ground ginger
15 whole juniper berries
6 tbsp pickling spice
Fresh ground coriander, smoked paprika, and black pepper to taste

Start off by lightly toasting your spices in a heated frying pan to open up and refresh their flavors. Add all the ingredients with the exception of the short ribs to two quarts of boing water and let cool to room temperature.

Once the brine has cooled down pour it over the short ribs and cure them for a couple of days in a zip lock bag.  The rule of thumb is it will take 7-10 days of curing for every vertical inch of meat on a slab of brisket. Short ribs cure faster because they are cut up into smaller pieces which means the brine can get at them and into them a lot easier than with a solid piece of brisket.

The longer you soak the ribs in the brine the saltier they are going to be when you take them out. It is a matter of taste but I usually rinse them and soak them in water for four hours to remove the excess salt before I smoke them.

The Pastrami Crust

2 tbsp coarse ground coriander seed
2 tbsp coarse ground black peppercorns
2 tbsp smoked hungarian paprika

Once the short ribs are cured it is time to season and smoke them. I briefly toast black peppercorns and coriander  seeds before grinding them before blending the mixture with smoked paprika. This creates the distinctive spicy crust that generously dusts the short ribs. I smoke them at 225 degrees over applewood for three hours.

I finish them in the oven by braising them in a mixture of a little water (1/2 inch) and some Dr. Pepper for another three hours at 300 degree's while covered in the oven. If you want a nice crispy crust on top take the foil off 30 minutes from the finish.

Short Rib Pastrami Reuben's

5 pounds pastrami style beef short ribs
Sliced rye bread
Swiss cheese
Sauerkraut with caraway seeds
Russian dressing
2 tbsp butter

Take them out of the oven and let them stand for around twenty minutes to cool off. Once cooled you can then start making sandwiches out of them. I find that each individual short rib is good for two very healthy sized sandwiches. I don't even slice it because it is so tender that it just breaks up on its own like pulled pork.

Butter the rye bread and begin grilling it with the swiss cheese on one side and russian dressing with steamed sauerkraut on the other. Add a healthy portion of the warm pastrami on the side with the sauerkraut and russian dressing and top with the slice of bread that has the melted cheese.

To make this sandwich really sing you need to make your own Russian dressing. It is different than the thousand island dressing you get in the stores. Just combine the ingredients as listed below and you are good to go!

Russian Dressing

1/2 cup mayonaise
2 tbsp chili sauce
1 tbsp pickle relish
1 tbsp horseradish
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp tabasco sauce
1 tsp worcestershire sauce

If you aren't a fan of rye bread try this with one of those La Brea Bakery torta's that you can get at Costco. I still butter and grill the Torta but I finish the sandwich in a panini press so that the outside is a crispy and buttery 360 of goodness!

I like serving these sandwiches with a little potato salad, cole slaw, or even just a handful of potato chips along side a kosher dill quarter. A nice hoppy beer such as a really cold IPA helps wash it down and compliment the flavors.

2 comments:

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admin said...

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