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Mar 12, 2009 12:14 AM

Heating Montreal smoked meat (split from Ontario board)

The usual way to prepare smoked meat or pastrami is to steam it for about three hours. The last time I made smoked meat I actually partially immersed it in water. It was awesome.

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  1. Hrmm, not sure how I'd go about steaming it with the cookware I currently have

    What do you use?


    2 Replies
    1. re: duckdown

      Place the brisket in a large Dutch oven, cover with water and place over medium heat. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for two to three hours. Remove from the pan and cool. Slice into thin slices and serve.

      1. re: duckdown

        I throw a colander into my largest pot and cover with a lid. Quite a bit of steam escapes, but it does the trick.

      2. Alex recommends not immersing it in water. Steam either in or out of the vac-pac, but in the vac-pac is preferred.

        CORRECTION: That should be "boil in vac-pac or steam out of the vac-pac, but do not immerse in water. The preferred option is steam in vac-pac.

        4 Replies
        1. re: acd123

          Yeah, but as duckdown doesn't seem to have a vacuum sealer or a steaming contraption large enough to fit the brisket, he might have to go with the old-fashioned pastrami immersion method, which is why I recommended it. Of course, he could MaGyver a steamer, I'm sure.

          1. re: redearth

            Or pick up a bamboo steam basket for $5-10 at Tap Phong. They're handy to have for lots of stuff and too cheap to avoid getting. You can use them over a large (straight-sided) saute pan if you don't own a wok.

            1. re: Atahualpa

              I use the basket in a pasta pot to steam corned beef etc.

              1. re: Yongeman

                I boil it in the vac-pac. Any leftovers get wrapped in plastic and go into the fridge. When I'm ready to use it, I steam the leftover piece.

                The piece I have left over is usually small so I have no trouble fitting it in a steamer basket that fits into my large pot :-)

                I'm really looking forward to hearing back as to whether everyone likes it as much as I do.

          1. re: Joshman

            I don't know if they still have them, but I bought a fabulous flat-bottomed stainless steel wok/steamer at Costco a few weeks ago. The huge steamer section (much bigger than any bamboo steamer I've seen) fits atop the wok, and there's a glass lid. If I recall, it was about $60. Well worth it; it's a great quality 3-ply wok, too.

            This would be a great vessel in which to cook up one of these briskets.

            1. re: Joshman

              you would end up cooking it instead of warming it. same reason that the micro won't work. I've heard of using the heavy duty ziploc freezer bags for "boil-in-the-bag" but I've never tried it. I don't know if water would seep through the seal.

            2. Many options will work for cooking and for warming. It comes down to taste.

              The discussion transferred from the Toronto board was about a raw cured brisket that must be fully cooked before eating.

              The most common cooking method is, indeed, steaming for several hours. You don't want to water to reach a full boil.

              It's easy to improvise a steamer. Just put a rack into a pot, put a dish on the rack (sized so steam can flow around the edge), put the meat on the dish, cover, and go.

              If the brisket won't fit your pot, cut it in half and store the second half in a ziploc bag in the fridge. It's cured meat and you can cook it later. It won't spoil on you.

              If the maker suggests that the brisket not be immersed in water, I'd be inclined to follow this suggestion the first time around. The water can destroy the intended spice balance. However, the meat will cook perfectly well. Simmering is really more suited to corned beef.

              If you do cook it in the bag, I'd suggest not actually boiling it. Keep the water just below the boiling point.

              A slow cooker is a perfectly good cooking method. Keep it in the bag. I suggest using the low heat setting. I have now idea how many hours this will take.

              If the brisket is in a sealed plastic bag, you can also cook it sous vide. There are many ways to do this, which will produce varying results. You don't need a fancy machine. Let the sealed bag sit in very warm water for a few hours (about 130F). This will help tenderize the meat. Then increase the temperature to about 200F and let it sit for about 1/2 hour per inch of thickness.

              Note that I offer this sous vide info for those with experimental inclinations. You may or may not get optimum results with these time/temperature suggestions. If you try it, please post what you did and how it came out. I'm lucky to have a 25 year old Pierre DeSerres Smart Pot, which makes this process automatic.

              To warm an unsliced, fully cooked brisket, you can steam it or bag it. Follow the instructions above, However, you should just warm it up - not cook it further.

              You can warm sliced meat in a steamer or in a bag. Slicing also adds a microwave option: wrap the slices in a wet towel and nuke it until warm. This can take as little as 10-20 seconds, depending on the quantity of meat, its fat content, and the power of your microwave. Tread carefully, since a few extra seconds is lethal.

              8 Replies
              1. re: embee

                Embee, one correction, the discussion transferred from the Toronto board was about a raw cured AND SMOKED brisket. I would be very interested in your take on Alex Goldin's smoked meat.

                  1. re: embee


                    To show how forgiving smoked meat is...

                    I cook dinner once a week for a fraternity - 20 hungry young men who sit down at the table at one time for a formal meal in dinner jackets no less... In the late afternoon I prepare a three-course meal and leave instructions for the assigned brother, willing but not necessarily kitchen-schooled, as to how it is to be finished - main course heated, garlic bread unwrapped, salad tossed, etc...

                    Their Prez had brought back from "reading week" a haunch of smoked meat from Montreal's famed Schwartz.'s. Of course their kitchen doesn't run to steamers or anything much for that matter ! So I got a large pot of boiling water, held a sieve and foil "hat" over chunks of the haunch for 10 mins each, then sliced.

                    Now it's 2 or 2 1/2 hrs before supper, which has to be served all at once to the brothers. What to do ? Simple. To their bemusement I wrapped the slices into about six packages of envelopes made out of double-foil with a plastic grocery bag around envelope each for good measure, and told them to put it in the upper rack of their dishwasher for the first 10 mins of the wash cycle, no soap please (which you might think was obvious, but these are guys...) It came out a treat, all ready at the same time ! Necessity is....

                    1. re: Bigtigger

                      My dishwasher does, indeed, run at a perfect reheating temperature.

                      1. re: Bigtigger

                        "reading week" in Montreal
                        Heh heh.
                        Nice to hear the boys took some time out from their austere studies to enjoy some pleasures of the culinary sort {;/)

                  2. re: embee

                    Edit on my 2:19 post - I messed up the sous vide info. Sorry :-(

                    - Put the sealed bag into not quite boiling water (which sterilizes the surface).
                    - Immediately let the temperature drop to about 115 F
                    - Hold the meat at 115 for a few hours - this allows tenderizing enzymes to work
                    - Increase the temperature by 15 F about every 15 minutes until it reaches 165F, which helps the meat retain juices
                    - Hold at 165 for about 1/2 hour per inch thickness - this dissolves collagen into gelatin and makes the meat succulent.
                    - If you hold it at too low a temperature for too long, the meat won't slice properly (though pulled brisket should be fine)
                    - If you increase the temperature too fast or raise it too high, the meat will probably dry out

                    1. re: embee


                      Excellent post, I actually make my own corned beef at home and I think this will actually help with the final product. Smoked product is second nature, I had no idea how to do what you posted right though. Fantastic

                      1. re: BusterRhino

                        That's quite the compliment coming from you :-)

                        The times are not rigid. Also, if you normally cook your briskets to a higher temperature, continue increasing the temp in small increments, as above.