I'm a huge fan of Michael Ruhlman and an even bigger fan of pastrami so when he recently posted about making short rib pastrami it inspired me to follow suit. Of course, I had to make sous vide pastrami instead of braising it.
Considering how few people make their own, the process of making pastrami is surprisingly simple. You start off by making a brine with peppercorn, coriander, and pink curing salt, as well as any other seasonings you wish.
Then you put the meat in the brine and refrigerate for 2 to 3 days. Traditionally pastrami is made using brisket but you can really use any cut you like, and here we're going to use short ribs. Short ribs are normally more flavorful and fatty (which is good) than brisket.
Once the meat is done brining you remove it from the brine and pat it dry. For a true pastrami you would then smoke the meat for several hours. Though you can cheat by quickly grilling it on either side to make a crust. Or you can REALLY cheat and add liquid smoke to the sous vide pouch in the next step.
Once the smoke has been added seal the meat it in a sous vide pouch and cook for 1 to 2 days. I cooked it at 137°F (57°C) so it would still be medium rare but for a more traditional taste you could go as high as 160°F (71°C).
One thing to keep in mind is that the meat should already be very salty so you shouldn't add any additional salt to the pouch. Another thing to keep in mind, as brought up by @CKFriedhoff is not to put any of the brine in the sous vide pouch or it can come out too salty.
Once the sous vide pastrami is done cooking simply remove it from the pouches, slice and serve. You can use it however you normally like pastrami, I continued to follow Ruhlman's article and ate it on a toasted English muffin but I topped it with a mustard vinegar coleslaw, smoked Gouda cheese, and mustard. I also served it with a light tomato, carrot, and cucumber salad to help cut the richness of the pastrami.
For breakfast the next day I mixed my leftovers with some diced potatoes, garlic, and poblano peppers in a pastrami hash topped with egg. The perfect leftovers breakfast!
Ingredients for Sous Vide Pastrami with Short Ribs
- 3-4 pounds of short ribs, brisket, or other tough cut
- ½ head of cabbage, thinly sliced
- 4 to 8 carrots, julienned
- ½ cup red wine or sherry vinegar
- 1 shallot, diced
- 3 tablespoons mustard, preferably whole grained or Dijon
- 1¼ cups olive oil
- Shamelessly adapted from Michael Ruhlman's Charcuterie
- 1 gallon water
- 1 ½ cups salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 8 teaspoons pink salt
- 1 tablespoon pickling spice
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
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Cooking Instructions for Sous Vide Pastrami with Short Ribs
At least 4 to 4.5 days before serving
To make the brine combine all the ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes then remove from the heat and cool.
Once the brine is cool place the short rib meat in a non-reactive container large enough to hold it and cover with the brine. Place in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days making sure the short rib meat stays submerged the entire time.
For more information on the cooking times you can read my detailed article which addresses why is there a range in sous vide cooking times.
Take your short rib pastrami out of the brine and smoke them. There are 3 normal methods for adding smoke to the pastrami.
Once you have added the smoke to your short rib meat pre-heat your sous vide water bath to 137°F (57°C).
Vacuum seal the short rib pastrami in a sous vide pouch and place the pouch into your water bath. Let it cook for around 36 to 48 hours.
About 45 minutes before you are ready to eat begin to prepare the coleslaw. Mix together the cabbage and carrots. In a separate bowl mix together the mustard, vinegar, shallot, salt, and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until it has formed a vinaigrette. Pour on top of the cabbage and carrots and mix together.
Remove the sous vide short rib pastrami from the sous vide pouch and slice roughly.
Slice the English muffins and toast it. Add the smoked Gouda to the bottom of the English muffin and toast until the cheese has melted.
Top with the pastrami and coleslaw and enjoy!