Ever since making my first pastrami, I've wanted to correct a rather large omission in my process—the pastrami was never steamed. To finally fix this, I got another brisket to smoke, but instead of remaking pastrami, I went the Montreal smoked meat route instead.
Montreal smoked meat is, more or less, Montreal's answer to pastrami. The process can be almost identical, but there are two main differences. First, the seasoning—smoked meat rubs can vary while pastrami is primarily a mix of black pepper, coriander, and garlic. Second is the cut of meat—smoked meat is often made with the whole brisket, letting customers choose between the fatty deckle or the more lean flat, while pastrami is usually just the brisket flat or beef plate.
As with pastrami, the smoked meat starts with a dry cure to let the salt and nitrites work their magic in the fridge for five days. Then the brisket gets soaked to remove some saltiness and is coated with my interpretation of a Montreal rub, then placed in the smoker until it hit 165°F.
When making pastrami, at this point, I took it out, let it rest, then sliced the meat and served. Hot off the grill, it was excellent but the next day, reheated, it was on the dry side. So this time for the Montreal version, I took an additional step of steaming the brisket until it jumped another 15 degrees, ending the cook at 180°F.
This made a world of difference. The texture of the meat was much smoother after gently bringing it to a higher temperature with steam. It also solved the leftover problems—both cold and reheated, the smoked meat was equally delicious.
The flavor was also better, its diverse spice rub creating a more nuanced flavor that let the meat stand out, while still providing a robust taste overall. Fixing a problem has never been so delicious.
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About the author: Joshua Bousel brings you new, tasty condiment each Wednesday and a recipe for weekend grilling every Friday. He also writes about grilling and barbecue on his blog The Meatwave whenever he can be pulled away from his grill.