Sure. Labor of love. Been working on mine for 7 or 8 years now and I'm only just getting there. Simple answer: you rub and smoke a corned brisket (corned beef). But.... there's more to it than that.
Here's the best write up I know of. It's on Amazingribs.com and by following the links the author takes you all the way from picking and dressing the meat through to putting it on the table. I use it as my base and haven't had any leftovers yet. http://amazingribs.com/recipes/beef/close_to_katzs_home_made_pastrami.htmlEquipment:Knives
Since this is a blades forum I won't even pretend to describe the type of knives to use to dress a brisket down to a 1/8" fat cap. You guys will flame me until my keyboard fries. Smoker.
(There are some people who say they use charcoal grills but I've never tried). You're looking for something that will hold a temp around 225 to 250*F for at least 12 hours and maybe more. It's important it also be able to create smoke. IMHO this means charcoal and smokewood.
Also, I've read it's possible to smoke for only 4 hours or so and finish in the oven. I've never tried this. Curing bucket.
(For curing the brisket if you're doing a wet cure. There's a dry curing method too.) I have 2 first cuts curing right now. About 12lbs of meat dressed. They're taking just slightly over 3 gallons. Space in your refrigerator.
(You're going to cure for at least a week and then you're going to need to rest the meat after rubbing for at least 3 days. I've sometimes gone 3 months. I know it sounds weird to have uncooked meat around for so long. But remember curing was originally done as a preservation method.)Prague powder.
This is the curing agent. I use pink #1. I've only been able to find it on the web. There are non pink versions (Instacure I think) some people prefer since they don't contain red dye. I was happy to use them but a few of my relatives wanted their pastrami red. Go figure.Spices
You're going to make two preparations: First pickling spices to be used in a brine along with the curing agent. Second a finishing rub which is applied to the cured brisket - aka corned beef several days before smoking. Chief ingredients are corriander and black pepper. There are good recipes for both preparations in the Amazingribs link above.Steaming table
Before serving you're going to steam the meat up to between 200 and 205*F. I don't have a staming tray so I use an annodized roasting pan, a coated roasting rack and aluminum foil. The important thing here is you need something non reactive. The salt, water, heat, aluminum foil and say... steel can cause an electorstatic reaction between the metals you don't want.
With the equipment out of the way:Method:1. Make your brine.
This will be salt, garlic, brown sugar and the prague powder. I could write up what I'm experimenting with but honestly I can't do it better than the author in this link http://amazingribs.com/recipes/beef/home_made_corned_beef.html2. Dress your brisket.
There's controversy here whether to leave on any fat cap. The trade off is tenderness and moisture from rendering the fat vs the potential of the cure failing to penetrate all of the meat.
I'm from the leave the fat cap on school. Anytime I'm smoking something for more than 4 hours I want the fat there to render. When I trim I shoot for 1/8" and if I'm to err I err on taking more off than less. It's true. If the cure fails to penetrate you're left with some fairly disgusting stuff but I've only had it happen to me once or twice when I was learning and I feel the finished products much better with the fat cap on.3. After the brine cools put your dressed brisket in it.
It needs at minimum of a week. Once I forgot I had it going and left one in for 2 months. Turned out fine.3. Desalt.
After curing take the brisket out. Rinse it. Soak it in as much water as will fit in your bucket for 8 hours. I do this twice. [Once this step is done by the way you have a corned beef ready for steaming if you want]4 Take your finishing rub and rub both sides.
Don't forget the sides of the brisket. It needs at least 3 days in my opinion. Once I went two weeks.5. Smoke the meat.
There are volumes written out there on the best way to smoke brisket and much blood has been spilled.
So I'm going to leave that aspect to the combatants although Meathead's write up in the link above is a pretty good guide.
The main things to know here are:
- low and slow 225*F to 250*F
- robust smoke wood and a lot of it.
- finishing temp of about 200 to 205*F.
- it will take you a really, really
long time to reach target temp if you use the wet cure method and desalt properly.
- figure about 14 hours for a 4-5 lb flat. (I'm not kidding. Even if you foil midway through the cook).6.Let the meat rest.
12 hours minimum. I usually try to go at least a day.7. Steam it slice it serve it.
Bring the meat up to 200 to 205 *F again in a steam bath. See note regarding non reactive pans and aluminum foil in equpment section above. Slice it and serve it. Classic advice is to go against the grain, which is what I do for sandwiches but I've had a lot of fun cubing it and using it all kinds of ways.
So there you have it. I'll post up some picks as I cycle through my present batch.