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making montreal smoked meat at home

I suspect the consensus is that there's no really outstanding smoked meat joints in Toronto, if not in Ontario. Yes, there are notable places like Caplansky's, et al, but none can truly hold a candle to the really outstanding Montreal restos, like Schwartz's or (my favourite) Smoke Meat Pete.

So since we can't find anything decent here, has anyone tried making MSM at home? I've made a couple of attempts that've turned out so-so, and I'd like to know if anyone out there has tips or could swap stories.

I'm smoking, obviously, on a Big Green Egg, which I adore.

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  1. I've had moderate success but would like to get input to improve my product.

    I brine for two weeks with prague powder #1 (1 tsp for every 5 lbs brisket), then drain the meat and add a rub I have modified from some old posts on making MSM. I can post if you like. I like to let the meat sit for 2 days, with the rub on.

    I then smoke at 200-220F for 16-18 hours. The meat's internal temp gets up to 160-170F.
    I thinly slice the meat on an electric slicer and steam to heat up.

    Overall I'm pleased with the recipe, although it is different than Schwartz to some extent. The main difference is that it is less moist.

    I haven't tried Smoke Meat Pete's, will have to give it a shot next time I'm near Mtl.

    3 Replies
    1. re: hski7

      Smoke meat Pete's is so so. I wanted to go to Schwartz's and my friend insisted that we try Smoke Meat Pete's. it's way out of the way and nothing to write home about. The best part of going there was that it's right across the street from an original DQ

      1. re: chumi

        I think it depends on personal preference and luck of the draw to some extent. I have always found Schwartz to be dry and LOVED my experience at Pete's. However, nothing compared to the deliciousness of doing it myself :)

        1. re: biggreentom

          it can be a bit dry, but you need to order it medium fat. Smoked Meat Pete's lacks the punch that you get from Schwartz's

    2. My method was to wet-brine too, using the standard Readycure formula proportions of water, cure and kosher salt, mixed in with a handful of pickling spices and garlic, cure for 3 days, rinse for one, add the spek and then smoke for about 13 hours over maple at around 225 (though it was only a point brisket, not a double) to an internal temp of 185.

      It was good. Not great, but good, and my big problem was that lack of moisture- it didn't fall apart like smoke meat should, though the fattier parts were tasty. I want that falling-apart texture!

      Oh, and Smoke Meat Pete is ridiculously good. Best meat in Montreal- and I mean it!

      5 Replies
      1. re: biggreenmatt

        I don't see steaming in your process. I don't recall the finishing temps, but I have never smoked a brisket for 13 hours with the intention of making pastrami. With that approach, you end up with a cured Texas-style brisket, if you know what I mean. When I've done it in the past, it's been smoked to a lower temp (I believe) and for a shorter period (100% sure). And then you steam it to 185 or whatever. The steaming process achieves the fall apart texture you crave, while also keeping it moist. Lastly, using a point will result in a drier piece of finished product.

          1. re: porker

            That's AWESOME! As it so happens, I'll be in CSL that weekend!

            Coincidence? I suspect not!

            1. re: biggreenmatt

              I'd suggest to check out Delibees in Pointe Claire just for comaprison sake - they're not too far from SMP anyways (but closed Sunday).

              1. re: porker

                ah gawd dammit... every time someone mentions them I have to stop on the way home.

                Will try and remember to take a pic this time.

        1. GG is right. Brining should be longer, smoking shorter. Assume 1" salt penetration per week at 39 F.
          MSM does not have a strong smoky flavor, like Texas brisket, but short smoking followed by steaming retains moisture.

          I really pack on the pickling spices before brining, smoking and steaming, because I really want that Romanian flavor.

          Finally, I now have two sources for brisket: Costco AAA at $12/kg which tends to be overtrimmed; and Skyland packer brisket, AA for $7/kg at 3715 Lawrence Av East http://www.skylandfoodmart.com/

          2 Replies
          1. re: jayt90

            My first MSM was steamed- this one I didn't bother.

            Re: curing process: I used Readycure (http://www.foodwithlegs.com/?p=789) on both my briskets rather than Prague Powder. After mucking up the first batch, I called the nice people at Canada Compounds, told them what I was doing and asked how long was best for a five-pound-and-change brisket. They told me 3 days, give or take; five pounds for a full brisket. Which is good, since I frankly don't have the patience to wait for weeks.

            Re: final product: good, but not sublime. Like something you might get at the grocery store labeled as "smoked meat". That said, I'll try reducing the smoke and increasing the steam. The briskets I got were from Highland Farms (since the Scarborough location is near my place), but next time I'll shlep out to Nortown and get a proper piece of meat.

            Man, between the curing, smoking and steaming, what a pain in the ass process!

            1. re: jayt90

              Hi Jayt90,
              I've seen a lot of recipes that call for very different curing times, ranging from 2 weeks to 4 days. I have a couple of 8 lb briskets that I'm ready to turn into delicious smoked meat (my wife is from Montreal). Does the 1" rule really work?

            2. Don't know if you ever saw the DDD episode from Brewburgers but there's a recipe here.

              http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/br...

              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNmihp...

              1. After a few tries, I got it comparable to a cross between Schwartz and Quebec Smoked Meat.
                I started with a 6kg brisket and dry cured:
                1lb peppercorn, ground
                1.5lb coarse salt
                1/4lb sugar
                1/4lb coriander seed, ground
                3TBL clove, ground
                3TBL bay leaf powder
                4TBL instacure (pink salt)

                I hand-ground to keep a coarse texture of spices (except bay leaf which was purchased in ground, powdered form).
                I used half this mix (saving 1/2 for next time) and rubbed into brisket, wrap with plastic wrap, place in pan in fridge and weight down with a 12 pack of beer.
                Turn the brisket 2x a day for 9 days (it will exude moisture - you need the pan)
                Rinse off all cure and soak in cold water for 3 hours, changing water every 1/2 hour (to get most salt out).
                Prepare "old fashion" spice blend: 2 part peppercorn, 1 part coriander seed into blender and pulse until seeds are partially broken up (maybe 2lb peppercorn/1lb coriander seed)
                Pat brisket dry and rub with lots of the spice blend, wrap in plastic, into fridge overnight, weighted down with a 12 pack again.
                Next morning, unwrap, put in smoker, apply smoke for 3-4 hours at 250F. Wrap in foil (to keep from oversmoking and to retain moisture) and continue at 250F-265F for another 5 hours (this can be in the smoker with no smoke, or simply in your oven).
                Remove and let come to room temp. Wrap the whole works (foil & all) in plastic wrap, put in fridge overnight.

                Next day, unwrap and put in steamer for 3 hours, slice and enjoy.

                Time consuming? Yes.
                Lotsa steps? Yes.
                Labour intensive? Slightly.
                Ingredient intensive? Certainly.
                Worth it? You better believe it - your friends and family will not believe you made it.

                I first did this specific method (after many other tries - wet cure/no steam/longer/shorter times/etc etc) september 04, 2008. My notebook page ends with:

                *FANTASTIC*Deeeelicious*
                Some of the best smoked meat we've had, similar to Schwartz!! Cured through and through. Oh my God, good! Gave some to Joseph @ Fairmont - he was totally surprised and happy! (note Joe is my butcher)

                With a final note added sometime later:
                2nd time around, instead of steaming, placed on a rack in a pan with water. Covered well with foil, into 250Foven 6 hours. *nice*.

                Which is an option if not using a steamer.
                I would post photos, but they're in another computer...will post later.

                112 Replies
                1. re: porker

                  Okay, I'm game. Where do you pick up instacure? And where did you pick up the recipe?

                  1. re: biggreenmatt

                    Instacure in Canada seems to be about as illegal as a Cuban cigar in the US - kinda like you gotta know someone who knows someone...

                    For the long answer...
                    Perhaps in GTA,
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/791524
                    or another crazy thread I was on recently,
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/624191
                    Or ask a friendly butcher who makes his own sausage

                    For the short answer, order it from
                    http://www.sausagemaker.com/meatcurin...

                    Theres alot of misconceptions, misinformation, and lack of knowledge on curing compounds (nitrates/nitrites/saltpetre/prague powder/instacure/Morton salt, etc etc). If you don't know about them, learn a bit first, as there are proper handling practices, possible health concerns, etc etc. Not to scare, but simple advice which can be said of many things (like matches, medications, cleaners, etc).

                    OK, howd I come by the recipe? I'd love to say something like a great uncle on my mother's side worked at Schwartz in the 50's. He went on a working vacation in the Amazon basin to search for gold and was never heard of again. Years later, I was bequeathed a simple envelope from my great aunt. Inside was a recipe for smoked meat written in my uncle's hand with a simple black fountain pen.
                    Alas that was not the case (although I had a great uncle on my fathers side who did disappear in South America, never to be heard from again... but thats another story).
                    I would also like to say that I got it here
                    http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?/...
                    The recipe is indeed in this thread, but as I glanced through it now, the post seems to be from 2010. I first made this version in 2008 (as confirmed by my notebook and digital pictures...), so I must have come across it from somewhere else, but the noggin ain't what it used to be. Regardless, I think the thread makes for fascinating reading.\

                    Pictures
                    1. after 9 days of curing
                    2. into the smoker
                    3. after steaming
                    4. between a couple slices of kimmel rye

                     
                     
                     
                     
                    1. re: porker

                      With more online research (http://www.urbanhippy.ca/making/bacon), I've determined that the nitrate difference between readycure and instacure is about 6:1; since I've got a kilo of the stuff already, I'll just change the proportion and use that instead. Plus your version doesn't look as red as I want mine to be, and that I got from the readycure. Plus I don't want to bother with the shipping. Plus I'm making mine in about 2 weeks and can't wait.

                      Going into this project, I assumed that the Montrealers wet-cured their meat, on account of the faster turnaround time. I find it a little difficult to believe that the average restaurant would have the floorspace to keep essentially 2 weeks of progressively-curing smoke meat in the back, but I've certainly been proven wrong before.

                      In any event, I'm game. I'll be serving it on the 23rd, which means the process needs to start on the 11th (9 days cure, 1 day soak and dry, 1 day smoke and rest and next day steam and serve. I'll let y'all know how it goes.

                    2. re: biggreenmatt

                      Oh yeah, if you make it, please report back. A running commentary would be entertaining!

                      1. re: porker

                        Thanks porker, for your excellent instructions and photos.

                        I did something similar but different for St. Pat's day this year.

                        Stores were selling Maple Leaf corned beef brisket (boil in bag) for $4/lb, so I chose a couple with good marbling; I knew from past experience that this would be a bland corned beef.

                        Rinsed off the curing gel;

                        Rubbed with hot paprika and a generous layer of pickling spice;

                        In the fridge for 2 days;

                        Added a layer of cracked peppercorns, then wrapped well in a double layer of foil and slow cooked 3 hours @ 250 F in a convection oven. (Because of March weather, I did not hot smoke it, but that's an option.)

                        The result was sublime: tender, juicy and well spiced. No one believed it was a Maple Leaf cured brisket, but it was!

                        Since then I have struggled with BBQ'd brisket, but cannot get close to B.R.'s .
                        My enhanced Maple Leaf brisket will remain a staple until I master MSM or Texas BBQ.

                        1. re: jayt90

                          I never persued Texas brisket enough to get something special.
                          Your method takes out the waiting time of curing
                          About every 2nd St. Patricks day, I'll make corned beef from scratch - a simple wet nitrite (instacure) brine, rinse, then a long boil with onion and plenty of clove in the water. Comes out great.
                          About every other time, I use a store-bought. Sometimes I'll be in the US (Plattsburgh or Champlain or Burlington) and their corned beef is like 59c /lb.

                        2. re: porker

                          Yeah, will do. Per the instructions, the process'll begin on Monday.

                          I was thinking about it again this morning, and I'm still having a problem accepting that at any given time, the Big Boy Montreal delis have twelve days' worth of brisket at different stages of prep in their back rooms. I mean, y'all see how high those sammiches are stacked- you're looking at a half-pound to a pound (I suspect) for the ordinary and jumbo/extra-hungry/fresser sandwiches. If they sell 200 sandwiches a day (let's split regular/jumbo in half for easy math), that's 150 pounds of meat or about 12.5 briskets. On that same fuzzy math, the average shop curing that amount of meat for 12 days needs to have 150 briskets in the back at any given time, which I find improbable. And then, God forbid, you run a restaurant and you run out of meat! Happened to Caplansky's in the opening days at their new location.

                          I'm going to bug David Sacks on the Save the Deli FB page and see if we can't solicit some input.

                          (This is to say, btw, my good porker, that I fully intend to try your recipe- I just wanna know how the big guys do it.)

                          1. re: biggreenmatt

                            If my last time sitting at the counter is correct, you're off on your brisket count for a place like Schwartz's by a factor of at least 2.

                            1. re: wattacetti

                              I don't disagree. Hence, some insight into the biz is required.

                            2. re: biggreenmatt

                              An apology is in order.

                              All this talk of smoke meat got me hankering and I went off to Caplansky's for lunch. Credit where credit's due: that was a fine sammich. More than that: an *outstanding* sammich, different but equal to Smoke Meat Pete. And keeping on topic, one of their signs says that it took God 1 day to make the world but it takes 14 days to make a brisket. Maybe they do store their dry-cured meat for 2 weeks+.

                              Who knew?

                              1. re: biggreenmatt

                                I really don't kniow how they do it commercially. I assume that a wet brine would be more economical as you can cheat a bit with injection (I do this with ham) and you get curing from both inside and out. I assume commercially made, vacuum packed, ready to go smoked meat (I'm thinking Lesters Foods, Pillars, Levitts, etc) is done this way as faster means cheaper means lower costs means lower competitive prices etc etc.

                                I don't know if delis doing their own smoked meat dry- or wet-cure. I will ask next time I'm at Schwartz (or drinking across the street - hehe). I found this

                                http://www.torontolife.com/features/h...

                                which says of Caplansky's

                                TORONTO SMOKED MEAT: At Caplansky’s (12 Clinton St., 416-500-3852), Zane Caplansky rubs his briskets in spices he picks up in Little India, cures them in barrels for up to three weeks, then hardwood smokes them until the meat is deep maroon and super-tender. Imagine Schwartz’s famous product married with Texas-style barbecue brisket.

                                Not quite specific if liquid enters the equation (barrels)...

                                I also assume that wet, barrel curing was a way of preserving (and perhaps storing)meat before refrigeration, so it may be more 'traditional' than dry curing. Again, only guessing.

                                Don't worry, in a coupla weeks it'll all be academic as you make your own *outstanding* sammich!

                        3. re: porker

                          Right, matey. The brisket went into the fridge to cure this afternoon. Used the same recipe with the one difference being that I used Readycure (1% nitrates), which means I put in a heaping 1/2 c Readycure (should be about 1 1/8th c if you're making a double-batch for future use, as in your recipe) and a heaping 1/4 c of kosher salt (just shy of 2/3 c if double).

                          My brisket is a 11 1/2 pound whopper that doesn't fit into any pan I happen to own. Instead, I've cured it and stuck it in a gigantic ziplock bag, food grade but meant for clothes and bulky items, and sucked out as much air as I could. Need to pick up a twelver tomorrow to weigh it down.

                          Tell me more, if you would, about the juices that come out during the curing process. I'm thinking that under the circumstances, it might be a good idea to poke holes in the bag so it can properly drain, though I'm keen to head about your go at it.

                          1. re: biggreenmatt

                            Maybe a cup or so of water will be drawn out. Even though I wrap with about 10 yards of saran, it still seeps out, thus the need for a pan or even a plastic tray.
                            Your hermetically sealed contraption sounds good, I don't think drain holes would be needed - then you'll have to worry about catching the juice in the fridge. The stuff will rinse off later anyway later. After a good rinse and scraping to get all the spice off, I soaked the meat in a clean sink, changing the water every 1/2 hour.
                            There will be shrinkage, but only after smoking/cooking, so you'll still need a vessel of some kind to steam. No cake or roasting pan?

                            1. re: porker

                              Duh. I threw it in my biggest roasting pan, but hells bells, I can use a cookie sheet or even just lay it down flat on the bloody shelf, since there's no runoff. As for a big-enough steamer, well, I guess I'm just going to have to nip off to Nella and buy myself a new toy. I think a ginormous roasting/hotel pan with a steam tray on top should do the trick.

                              Oh, and for next time, I used one of these, available at any big supermarket: http://www.ziploc.com/Products/Pages/.... I lied, by the ways: it says it's not for food, but neither are big, new, clean garbage pails which I use to make party-sized amounts of sangria. Given that I'm curing the hell out of the meat, I don't think there's any danger.

                              1. re: biggreenmatt

                                Hey, I've never seen them before - looks good.
                                I do have a steamer like this
                                http://www.bravoparty.com/popup.php?i...
                                I see, by the way, you can rent from Bravo.
                                but its a bitch to clean.
                                To avoid the cleaning part, I put a rack into a roasting pan, put water in the pan just below the rack, plop the brisket onto the rack, wrapped up tight with plenty of foil, and into a 250F oven for 5-6 hours. This works well too.

                                1. re: porker

                                  Not sure where I saw it, but someone suggested doing the same process with beef ribs (smoked meat Popsicles). I tried, but wasn't happy enough to repeat. Now mrs. Porker shows me this
                                  http://ruhlman.com/2009/07/homemade-s...
                                  I'll have to give it a try sometime...

                          2. re: porker

                            Hi porker. someone just sent me this link. I was looking for a MSM recipe. God, I love this site, so many willing to help.

                            Is that Instacure # 1 or # 2? Do you use a whole double brisket? Where is your butcher? I need a good source. tks

                            1. re: carl333

                              Hiya carl. Its Instacure #1.

                              I use the whole brisket and usually order it from Joe at Fairmont Butcher.

                              Boucherie Fairmount, 3833 St Laurent, Montréal H2W 1X9, QC 514-288-8046

                              I just tell him I want a full brisket and it arrives in a few days in a cryo-vac. When I first starting ordering stuff from him, he usually asked for a small deposit.

                              I just happen to like Joe and his shop, but if its not convenient, maybe do a CHOW search for other butchers.

                              1. re: porker

                                ok, here's my 4 lb. flat that I started today. Salts and sugar added 1st followed by the spice rub. Packed tightly in a heavy duty freezer bag, and now onto the 8 day wait. Wish me luck. More photo's to follow.

                                 
                                 
                                 
                                 
                                1. re: carl333

                                  I have failed miserably with my 1st attempt. I had great color right through but is was very dry and crumbly and also was way too salty to eat. Not sure what hapenned. To much spice rub, too long a smoke that may have caused the dryness. I didn't skip the steam process in the oven. hmmmmm....Not sure what to correct.

                                  1. re: carl333

                                    I'm guessing the cure time was too long for a thin piece of meat. This would make it too salty.
                                    Did you rinse/soak the brisket after the cure? I rinse then soak the brisket for 3 hours, changing the water every 30 minutes. I'm told this gets rid of some salt (I don't know if it truly works or not, but its always part of my process).
                                    A long smoke time might contribute to dryness, but it also looks like you have an all-lean piece of brisket. Theres a thin fat cap, but I'm thinking you need the intramuscular fat of a whole brisket for real moistness. Maybe something like this
                                    https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/im...

                                    I know it sucks to buy a whole hunk of meat only to have it spoil on you (I'm doing a piece of eye of round right now - its been cured, now to dry for 4-5 months. I'm thinking its too salty as well....I'll see).
                                    I also overcured beef ribs (either up- or down-thread) and did not enjoy them - too salty.
                                    But if theres another attempt, I'd suggest going with a whole brisket . Its more forgiving to curing(sometimes its undercured, but not a big deal here), to smoking, and not as dry.

                                    1. re: porker

                                      You can check salt levels before cooking/smoking. My stuff generally goes for an hour soak, then I'll carve off a small piece, fry it and check for salt. Soak in 30 minute increments (I just load up the ziploc bag with water and let it sit in the sink), retesting till I get a salt level I like.

                                      About the dryness, it may be also that you're getting the real deal compared to the brined/injected stuff you may be used to at La Belle Province, etc.

                                      Not to worry, you can stew/braise the meat if you think it's ruined, just don't add salt :)

                                2. re: porker

                                  Yo Porker!! I'm a Canadian expat in Northern California trying your recipe for MSM so far seems to be right on. Its in the steamer right now I used pecan wood cause they didnt have maple at my local store and added some montreal steak seasoning to the pepper coriander rub before I smoked it. I also added some Warkworth Ontario maple syrup to the water pan in the smoker. I always bring back the Smoke meat petes packets whenever im in montreal and folks out here go crazy for the stuff. Thanks for your recipe and all your feedback to everyone on this site. I'm having my father (born and raised in NDG) and my Brother (6 years at Mcgill University) come over and take a taste to see if I got it right. I'll report back.
                                  Cheers,
                                  Lex

                                   
                                  1. re: lexxxluthor

                                    Looks good, maybe include a coupla picts of the sliced product if possible!
                                    The addition of Montreal steak spice might make for a saltier version.
                                    I went to high school in NDG, but I'm a Concordia guy, not a McGill guy, hehe.

                                    Coincidently, while visiting a town-wide garage sale in Hemmingford (QC) this past weekend, I came across a smoker/BBQ guy. We shot the breeze for awhile and he mentioned wanting to try his hand at MSM. I told him of this site in general, and this post in particular. He's likely gonna look us up.

                                  2. re: porker

                                    DUDE!!! Your recipe is the REAL DEAL!!!!! Perfect texture nice and moist perfect spice mix... Thank you for sharing this with the world. YOU ARE DA MAN. Pecae, Love and respect from Northern Cali

                                     
                                     
                                    1. re: lexxxluthor

                                      That looks fantastic! Beautiful cured color through & through, nice coriander/pepper smoked cover. Great sense of accomplishment when slicing it up and watching everyone eat, wide-eyed, eh?

                                    2. re: porker

                                      Mr. Porker,

                                      Much respect - you are the only one I could find that had a recipe for MSM. Very much appreciated. I'm in the process of making MSM for the first time with your recipe.

                                      Do you have internal meat temperature readings during the cooking? Instead of smoking for 3-4 hours, then 5 hours wrapped, then steaming for 3 hours; I was hoping to use internal temperature as a gauge instead of time.

                                      Also, what do you think about cooking at 225F instead of 250F?

                                      Any info would be appreciated.

                                      1. re: BigRockingMike

                                        Its just "porker", hehe.
                                        Kind words. As I mentioned above, It's not an original recipe of mine, I'm just passing on what I learned.

                                        My method is a guideline which can be changed to personal taste. Also, MSM is simply a variant of smoked brisket, so the "low&slow" method applies.
                                        Yeah, 225F with a target temp of maybe 180F should be good, but again, I'd say do what you're comfortable with (or what you're used to) and take notes.
                                        MSM isn't something the usual guy makes every week. When trying to improve, the notes are handy when trying to remember small details 8 months later.

                                        The meat is cooked and ready to eat out of the smoker, so why the fridge overnight and long steam the next day? Technically, I could venture that the overnight improves the flavor and the steaming provides a moist heating environment, mellowing the smoke. Non-technically, its simply the way its done in Montreal.

                                        Where u from BRM?
                                        Are you related to biggreenmatt?

                                        Oh, can u post some pictures? Maybe the brisket, maybe your set-up, maybe the finished MSM?

                                        1. re: porker

                                          Porker,
                                          Your recipe was fantastic! It tasted great! There were 2 things I did that I will fix next time though.

                                          1. Because of space considerations in my fridge, I didn't weigh down the brisket with a 12 pack of beer. The result was, I think, that the cure didn't make it all the way down in the meat. A little spot of the meat was missing that nice red colour. I'll know better next time.

                                          2. I think I cooked it too long. I took it out of the smoker at an internal temperature of 190F. I was intending to take it out at 180F but it got away on me. The result was that the meat was a little too crumbly, but still a great taste.

                                          I'm in Ottawa, but I was born and raised in Montreal. No relation to BigGreenMatt, but I'm sure he's a nice guy.

                                          As for my setup, I'm using a charcoal Vision Grill S Series from Canadian Tire (www.visiongrills.com). I'm really enjoying it. For steaming, I used a turkey pan on the stove with a wire rack on some tin foil balls with water in the bottom and the lid snugly on top. Worked great!

                                          Thanks for the great recipe. You rock!

                                           
                                          1. re: BigRockingMike

                                            That picture looks fantastic - real food porn! (kinda sliced thick, though... just kidding!)

                                            1. There is a couple of replies on this thread discussing weight vs no weight (and as I said, its what I do as part of the method). Not being a molecular scientist, I can't say for sure if this would have solved the curing issue. It might or might not.
                                            I think theres a lot going on in the curing process thats very difficult to guage: nitrite distribution, salt absorption, porosity of the brisket, temperatures, absorption gradients, etc etc. I think curing is a factor time and all these items, any of which can be (somewhat) different from one curing to another.
                                            I'd be interested to hear if you do everything the same and weight it, if you get different (better) results.
                                            If you don't (or can't) weight it, simply let it cure a couple more days for a through and through cure.

                                            2. Yeah overcooking will prevent getting real thin slices - the meat will want to crumble as you say.
                                            Its brisket, so we want low and slow to make it tender. My method includes a long steam the day after (BGM says you could do same day) which adds to the overall cooking time ("tenderizing" the meat).
                                            So perhaps take the meat out of the smoker at 170F (well into the "safe" zone as "cooked") then let the steaming do the balance of the low&slow.
                                            At least this is the theory - play around with it to get EXACTLY what you want.

                                            I ask about the relation tounge-in-cheek: you're BigRockingMike and he's biggreenmatt.

                                            All this talk is giving me cravings....

                                      2. re: porker

                                        Just received my instacure today so started my first trial run based on your recipe! Will let you know how it turns out.

                                        1. re: Razhug

                                          Welcome, Razhug!
                                          Just curious how you came across this thread?
                                          Let us know how it turns out.

                                          1. re: porker

                                            Through google searching for montreal smoked meat

                                            1. re: Razhug

                                              I only ask as I see its your first post on Chowhound; you took the time and effort to sign up and post!
                                              Welcome again, merry christmas, happy new year, and I'm looking forward to hear about your smoked meat adventures (fails and successes alike).

                                        2. re: porker

                                          Hey All -

                                          Eric here from Northern California.

                                          Ok - this thread is awesome.

                                          Followed Porker's recipe, done curing, done rinsing, done smoking, and it is on my BGE for another five hours wrapped in foil at 250. Steaming tomorrow for 6 hours at 250 in a foil roasting pan - brisket above the water on racks.

                                          As I was just going back through everything it has suddenly dawned on me that I forgot to put sugar in my cure - arrgh! Is this going to be a problem and or will the curing process have been compromised??

                                          Also - there was one post that led me to believe that the brisket itself should be wrapped in foil while steaming in the roasting pan - is this the case, or should it be unwrapped (with the pan being wrapped, of course)?

                                          Lastly - given my fridge shelves are not high enough to accommodate a twelver on the meat - I just used flat weights from a weight set. Two, 10lb weights with another 5lb weight spanning those. Worked great.

                                          Please let me know thoughts on no sugar in my cure - thank you!! Hoping after all this effort, that sugar was not a absolute key ingredient in the chemical process!!!

                                          Here are the pics thus far. Will report on the final after tomorrow's feast.

                                           
                                           
                                           
                                           
                                           
                                           
                                          1. re: EricBGE

                                            Sugar reduces salty taste in the final product but won't interfere with the cure. You may have to scrape and soak before steaming. But try a sample first, cutting off a corner and steam it, to see if it is too salty.

                                            1. re: jayt90

                                              Thanks - I did do the 3 hour rinse process - changing out the water every 30 mins. prior to smoking. You are suggesting another possible rinse?

                                              1. re: EricBGE

                                                It should be OK with your extensive rinse. But you should check anyway, maybe by pan frying 1 oz. If it tastes like a salt bomb, scrape and rinse the entire slab. Most of the salt overload would be on the surface, as the meat won't take excessive amounts, sort of a built in regulator.

                                                I suspect you will be OK, but do the test.

                                                1. re: jayt90

                                                  Snort. After waiting 2 weeks for the damn thing to cure, there's no point in not proceeding, and never mind the lack of sugar!

                                                  I just chuck my briskets in the steamer for a gentle treatment for 2-3 hours, unwrapped.

                                                  Good luck!

                                                  1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                    Oh believe me - no intention of NOT proceeding! Am psyched to see how it turns out. And this thing smells unbelievably great at this point.

                                                    Wondering why Porker did the steam for 6 hours (the roasting pan steamer method) as opposed to just 3?

                                                    But mine came out of the BGE hotter than I would have expected (190 degrees), so thinking only 3 hours tomorrow will be ok..

                                                    1. re: EricBGE

                                                      porker here,
                                                      sorry, I spent yesterday prepping for a dinner party (21 people, 2 slow-roasted prime rib sliced and finished on hardwood charcoal (balmy -7C and dark at 6:00pm) along with marinated asparagus, stuffed mashed potatoes, and pleurotte mushrooms, but I digress).

                                                      Missing sugar ain't the end of the world. It has some curing properties, but its the pink salt which does the heavy lifting. Like I always say, take notes on your method to improve and hone next time.

                                                      Steaming.
                                                      Unwrapped.
                                                      As I say, MSM isn't an exact science. Its a low&slow approach to make tender. Not enough of a steam, it'll remain somewhat tough. Too much steam, it'll be overdone and crumbly. Whats too much, whats not enough? Depends...size of brisket, prior handling (smoking/baking), etc.
                                                      3 hours may be what you're looking for; take it out and slice a bit. Too tough, put it back in the steamer.

                                                      I assume its a done deal by now, looking forward to your final results & thoughts.

                                                      1. re: porker

                                                        Thanks, Porker! Been in the steam for just over an hour. Bro-in-law, nephews showing up any minute to join me and my son for a meat-fest. It looked and smelled incredible when I pulled it out of the fridge...

                                                        Will certainly update!!!

                                                        1. re: EricBGE

                                                          yo eric, just curious, what brings a california guy to montreal smoked meat?

                                                          1. re: porker

                                                            Ok All - here is the report!

                                                            First off, Porker - to answer your Norcal question. I saw a piece about MSM in the latest Saveur magazine listing the top 100 food-related items for 2012. It featured the the guy in NYC who came from Montreal and opened a restaurant that serves MSM. Sounded so friggin' good that I started researching and came across this most excellent blog. So thank you again!!

                                                            So I limited my steam to three hours, which was perfect. Texture was amazing and everyone was blown away at how good it was.

                                                            But being my own worst critic - it was too salty and a bit too strong in the pepper department. And I am a big fan of salty and savory flavors.

                                                            We served on marbled rye - which was a great thing given there was a slightly sweet flavor in the rye which totally complemented the salty/peppery/pickle/sauerkraut/mustard flavors. Served with roasted potatoes and kale sautéed with bacon and onions - wicked good meal!!!

                                                            Here are the final pics!

                                                             
                                                             
                                                             
                                                             
                                                             
                                                            1. re: EricBGE

                                                              The pictures look fantastic! Cured through & throuh, deep red. I especially like the 3rd picture with the streaks of fat. My favorite prep is on steamed kimmel rye (with the seeds) and mustard. The marbled rye looks cool.

                                                              Saltiness still challenges me;
                                                              Sometimes the balance is very good, sometimes very salty and with the same recipe/method/size. I am generally lowering the amount of salt in the cure recipe as I go along.

                                                              I assume the NYC place is Mile End? I followed it on CH for awhile.

                                                              1. re: porker

                                                                Yes, Mile End is the place.

                                                                I neglected to include this pic in the others. You want fat streaks - here you go!!

                                                                 
                                                                1. re: EricBGE

                                                                  This thread is over a year old, so I don't remember every word I posted, but your last picture reminded me; slicing a whole brisket can be tricky.
                                                                  Ideally, you want to cut across the grain, but the muscle groups run different ways so its impossible to get consistent across-the-grain slices. basically I do my best and choose the largest muscle in the slice to determine cutting. When the piece gets whittled down, I'll flip and turn until its across the grain as much as possible...

                                                                  Just FYI (maybe its in the Saveur article) Mile End is a neighbourhood in Montreal. Funny thing is the two most famous smoked meat joints, Schwartz's and The Main are south of Mile End in the Plateau-Mont-Royale area. I don't even know of any smoked meat joints in Mile End...
                                                                  But then again, Mile End is a much better restaurant name in NYC; I can imagine New Yorkers getting pissed off at the pronounciation of "Plateau-Mont-Royale" - hehe.

                                                                2. re: porker

                                                                  Solution to the salt problem: soak in a bigger vessel. When I changed from pouring H2O into the (gigantic) ziplock to filling and draining my oversized sink, it made a world of difference. Trust.

                                                                  Speaking of higher temp smoking, I was dumb and let the temp creep up (I no longer do half smoker/half oven- strictly smoker now), so it was a little overlooked, but with one massive advantage: MSM burnt ends. Ridiculously incredibly staggering good.