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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.

    1. 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.



              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:

                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,
                    or another crazy thread I was on recently,
                    Or ask a friendly butcher who makes his own sausage

                    For the short answer, order it from

                    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
                    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.\

                    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


                                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
                                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
                                  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

                                    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.

                                  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

                                          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.

                                                      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.

                                                                  1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                    No lack of vessel at this end. I rinsed in a big farm sink and was changing the water out every 30 mins - per El Porker. I definitely plan on cutting back on the salt next time. Still stupid tasty though - and I am going to do make the burnt ends happen next time!!

                                                                    BTW, Matt - I use something that really works well on my BGE to regulate pit temp and monitor meat temp. Called the BBQ Guru DigiQ DX2 - Check it out: http://tinyurl.com/amsb534

                                                                    1. re: EricBGE

                                                                      Heh. My response was for Señor Porker- your issue was the lack of sugar which, as previously mentioned, cuts the salt.

                                                                      And a BBQ Guru's been on my list for a while- however the missus bought us a copy of Modernist Cuisine at Home, and my dollars have gone towards toys to stock my"modernist" kitchen. Soon, though.

                                                                      1. re: EricBGE

                                                                        I don't have a BGE, but I saw you showing off your gadget in the 5th picture of your first post!
                                                                        It did not go un-noticed, sly dog Eric - hehe.

                                                                        1. re: porker

                                                                          I would LOVE to have one, but damn are they expensive...

                                                                          1. re: Zalbar

                                                                            Without devolving into hyperbole, BGE's have to be seen as an investment due to their versatility and durability.

                                                                            Durability: they last forever. Only thing you'll have to change is the gasket, from time to time.

                                                                            Versatility: the BGE isn't a barbecue. It's an ordinary grill (lid open), a smoker (low temp), a coal-fueled convection barbecue (lid closed), a coal-fueled convection oven (lid closed, place-setter on) and a high-temp searer (I've buried the dial at over 900F). Damn thing's amazing and is the best cooking tool I've bought in the last 5 years.

                                                                            And what's more: I smoke my MSM on it!

                                                                            1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                              Oh hell ya, I know. I love the things to death. Wish I had a place for one, but ground floor apartment, no way am I leaving something like that lying around. Granted you'd need a truck to haul it off, but still...

                                              2. re: porker

                                                I know it's late in my process to ask...but would like advice as to the wood to use.

                                                I screwed up and do not have maple.

                                                I have alder and hickory.

                                                Should I use one, the other, or a combination?

                                                The rinsed/dried/re-peppered brisket is tucked in for the night.....and tomorrow, we smoke!

                                                1. re: Monch

                                                  I would use hickory. Be sure to post pics

                                                  1. re: Monch

                                                    You did not screw up. I use maple 'cause I like maple. Use *your* favorite; alder, hickory, or a combination.

                                                    And yeah, post picts, please.

                                                    1. re: porker

                                                      Maple is mild compared to hickory or alder. It is generally too subtle for my taste.
                                                      I would start with hickory, and try adding alder when the hickory expires.

                                                      1. re: porker

                                                        Many thanks.

                                                        Hickory it shall be. The brisket is going into the smoker shortly. Attached is a pic.

                                                        The meat is longer than the Bradley is wide. I will be using my bacon hooks to smoke it vertically...thick side down.

                                                        More later

                                                        1. re: Monch

                                                          Just my 2c; I like to whizz the peppercorns and coriander seeds in a blender or food processor (mortar & pestle seems to take forever) before rubbing the brisket. I get a coarse grind which helps to stick and no whole seeds in the final product.

                                                          1. re: porker

                                                            You know, I did that....

                                                            Two cups of peppercorns and one cup of coriander seeds into the Cuisinart.

                                                            Pulsed for a GOOD long while and that was the result.

                                                            On the grind for the brine, I got out my hand-cranked grain mill...from my home-brewing days...and sent the spices through that, at a set grind specification.

                                                            Should have done that here, but was too lazy to haul up the grain mill.

                                                            1. re: Monch

                                                              OK, from the picture, the kernels look whole.

                                                              Looking forward to picts when cut.

                                                              1. re: porker

                                                                Yes, a lot of them are whole....I'll get out the grain mill, next time!

                                                                In the Bradley as I type. Had to cut in half....too wide to go in horizontally and too long to hang....first world problems, here...

                                                                The cut ends look good, to me:

                                                                1. re: Monch

                                                                  In the big outdoor fridge (Wisconsin garage) since yesterday afternoon.

                                                                  Tonight....WE STEAM!

                                                                  1. re: Monch

                                                                    You *can* cheat and taste a bit of it now.

                                                                    I'm getting a hankeing for MSM now...

                                                                    1. re: porker

                                                                      Dude! I should have cheated fresh out of the oven, yesterday!

                                                                      I thought that these were hard, fast, inviolable rules!

                                                                      (Wink, wink)

                                                                      My preference will be to pile slices onto a hearty, seeded rye bread...topping with stone ground mustard.

                                                                      What is the authentic presentation? My memory is not perfect, from my travels.

                                                                      1. re: Monch

                                                                        Authentic presentation is rye bread and yellow mustard.

                                                                          1. re: JMF

                                                                            Much to the chagrin of most Americans, "authentic" (meaning the smoked meat in Montreal) is plain yellow mustard, something like French's.
                                                                            And yes, rye bread, although I prefer a seeded rye myself (kimmel).

                                                                            But have fun and use whatever you like.

                                                                            I see your fav meal is pastrami on rye....you should have a ball tonight.
                                                                            On the remote possibility of having too much leftovers, chopped up with potato and onion - a smoked meat hash - is also delicious.

                                                                            1. re: porker

                                                                              There are two of us.

                                                                              The brisket started at 12.5 pounds. I trimmed about 1.5 pounds of fat, before brining.....there will be leftovers.

                                                                              Tonight will be sandwiches, from the thiner end of the brisket....the "flat"?....my terminology is not tuned, yet. The very much thicker end will be vacuum sealed for future enjoyment, and frozen.

                                                                              My wive loves hash and I'm sure tonight's leftovers will find a loving home.

                                                                              Oh, and no chagrin. Everything has its place, even plain yellow mustard.

                                                                              Final pictures to follow.

                                                                              1. re: Monch

                                                                                The flavor was fabulous!

                                                                                My wife absolutely loved it and my sandwiches were fantastic.

                                                                                Not too salty, but could still taste the salt. Nice!

                                                                                Like a cross between a delicately corned brisket lightly smoked as pastrami....wow!

                                                                                I think I screwed up the cook, though. It would NOT slice, despite using a sharp carving knife. It wanted to shred, instead. I am afraid that I let the temp get too high, while it was in the oven.

                                                                                When I took the halves out, the five-hour temp of the thicker portion was 195F. That is at least ten degrees higher than I would have let a pork shoulder get. Not sure if that translates well to beef.

                                                                                It was like I allowed all the connective tissue, that would have held the slices together, to cook away. Any thoughts?

                                                                                In any event, we have some DAMN tasty beef for sandwiches and hash!

                                                                                Here are the pics:

                                                                                1. re: Monch

                                                                                  I had the same problem as you. I found the flat shredded whereas the fattier point could be cut. It will be interesting to hear whether the point slices better once you cut it. I think it gets shredded because there isn't enought fat and/or it is over cooker. I don't think your internal temp is too high, from what I read with usual bbq brisket the IT should be around 200-203. Poker is the expert, so we'll see what he thinks.

                                                                                  1. re: setton

                                                                                    "...Poker is the expert..."
                                                                                    I assume you mean me...I'm flattered, but I'm by far not an expert. I just happened to come across this technique years ago and responded to biggreenmatt's quest.

                                                                                    Anyway, I don't have a definitive answer to why the meat crumbled. I *think* its a combination of the cut of meat (the flat) and the cooking times.
                                                                                    Its also not an exact science as briskets are not created equally.
                                                                                    I would say to choose a whole brisket with the most marbling (as opposed to a lean one) and go with that. But its not that simple. Usually whole brisket is sold in cryovac and theres no way to see the marbling. Sometimes you have to order the brisket from a butcher and you get what you get. Sometimes you don't want to use a whole brisket...
                                                                                    Perhaps if you ask for USDA Prime or Canada AAA, you may get the marbling? Or, just fiddle with your technique until you get what you want...

                                                                                    In one of my first posts upthread, I suggest smoking for 3-4 hours followed by another 5 hours at temp. The next day 3 or 6 hours steaming.
                                                                                    This is a total cooking time of 11 or 12 or 14 or 15 hours depending on various times.
                                                                                    Perhaps I should have noted internal temps to better quantify the process, but alas, did not (but I plan on this next time around).

                                                                                    This is for a *whole* brisket and it generally came out
                                                                                    good. I start slicing from the fat end and work my way to
                                                                                    the thinner (flat) end. Sometimes the flat is somewhat
                                                                                    The same smoking/cooking times with a thinner, leaner flat portion might be the cause of crumbling.

                                                                                    In general, this is how I feel;
                                                                                    3-4 hours of smoke isn't overly long to flavor the brisket, so maybe don't skimp on this.
                                                                                    There should be a balance between the after-smoke cooking time and the steaming time.
                                                                                    You want to steam a) to re-heat and b) to do the final cooking/tenderizing. However, steaming tends to wash out the smokiness. Too long a steam you lose the smokineness. Too short a steam may affect tenderness.

                                                                                    For your same cut, I would suggest a 3-4 hour smoke followed by a foil-wrapped 4 hours at about 220F-250F. 7 to 8 hours for an initial cook might be good.
                                                                                    Give it a test-slice and get a feel for it.
                                                                                    Next day, maybe steam for an hour and test-slice it. Continue until you're happy with the texture.

                                                                                    However, your curing looks fantastic: rosy red throughout. Plus you're approaching the flavor profile you're looking for.

                                                                                    I know this is an involved process, not something you'll do every week until you get it exactly as you want. This is why I always suggest making notes. They'll pay off six months down the line when making another trial run.

                                                                                    1. re: porker

                                                                                      Many thanks for the thoughtful and thorough reply, Porker.

                                                                                      It sounds like I'm close to "spot on", from a flavor profile perspective. It's just a little peppery and the coriander comes through nicely.

                                                                                      (Coriander is, I am finding, a very common spice for cured meat. I made "biltong", a South African jerky-like product, and coriander was the spice.)

                                                                                      I am fortunate that I have the point, un-steamed, in the fridge. I will play around with the steaming on that.

                                                                                      Through all of this, the ONLY...ONLY....problem I have had is the texture.

                                                                                      The details:
                                                                                      - Cryo-vacced 12.5# brisket from Costco
                                                                                      - Trimmed a good amount of surface fat to expose the muscle to the brine
                                                                                      - Brined for two full weeks, weighted...forgot to turn on several of those days
                                                                                      - Rinsed and soaked per instructions
                                                                                      - Dried and peppered/coriandered per instructions, weighted and fridged
                                                                                      - Cut the brisket in half, to fit in the Bradley smoker
                                                                                      - Three hours of hickory/alder smoke at a 250F setting....though the smoker struggled to get/stay there in the Wisconsin winter temps.
                                                                                      - Out of smoker, foil wrapped, into a 250F oven for five hours
                                                                                      - Out of oven, point at 195F internal, for an overnight chill
                                                                                      - Steamed one hour next day...flat only....so far.
                                                                                      - Cut and eat....DELICIOUS!

                                                                                      1. re: Monch

                                                                                        Sooo, you don't have to make notes - just hope this thread does not disappear into the ether by next time. Hehe.

                                                                                        If the ONLY problem is texture, I'd say it was a success.

                                                                                        So the point underwent the entire process except steaming?
                                                                                        Just for the hell of it, try test-slicing cold to see where you're at (maybe do it without the wife knowing...eat the slices yourself).

                                                                                        I mentioned in some other thread that I found Katz's pastrami similar to Montreal smoked meat. Another poster said no way, MSM packs a powerful clovey/coriander punch which he did not like. This may be true and partially what makes the two different.
                                                                                        I like the clovey/coriander punch.

                                                                                        I'm really starting to jones homemade MSM now.
                                                                                        Alas, I think my next cure will be plain corned beef for St. Patricks.

                                                                                        Off topic, I have a pork tenderloin air drying since November as capicola. A nice white mold is starting to take.
                                                                                        I also have a rib roast going on 60 days dry aging.

                                                                                        1. re: porker

                                                                                          Clove also....YES!

                                                                                          I agree with the flavor description, Porker. That's what I'm getting. Even MORE ratification of the sucess....texture aside.

                                                                                          Yes, both flat and point got the exact treatment...they only parted ways prior to their trip to the Bradley. But the flat was steamed and the point was just fridged.

                                                                                          I think that's brilliant...I will slice some point and see what I get....without steaming. Maybe put the slices on the griddle and cover with an SS bowl after hitting with some water...defacto steamer!

                                                                                          More later!

                                                                                          1. re: porker

                                                                                            Yep - this is getting me all fired up to do it again.

                                                                                            I am going to have to look into the process of the air-dried loin - love capicola.

                                                                                            What I just got done doing on Super Bowl weekend was curing a 5lb pork belly, and then smoking for 9 hours over mahogany. The resulting bacon is fantastic. Had to include some in the Bloody Caesars on the stem which I served up. Otherwise, vacuum-packed the rest!

                                                                                            1. re: EricBGE

                                                                                              Looks great!

                                                                                              Speaking of belly (and off-topic again), I'd suggest making this roast belly recipe by Derek Dammann:

                                                                                              As for the capicola (or as they say in The Sopranos gabagool
                                                                                              )I didn't make a true version. I think real capicola is from the shoulder, seasoned, shaped and formed into a beef bung to cure.
                                                                                              I seasoned a loin and used this in the bung, pressed for some time, put into netting and hung to cure.
                                                                                              Probably give it a try next month.

                                                                                    2. re: Monch

                                                                                      How long did you steam? I have had that happen with corned beef. I lucked out with my MSM, stayed sliceable...

                                                                                      1. re: EricBGE

                                                                                        One hour, per instructions....right on the nose.

                                                                                        1. re: Monch

                                                                                          Interesting - my (Porker) instructions say 3-4 hours? But I would think it would potentially break down even further if you would have gone that long, if there was a tendency towards flaking...

                                                                                          1. re: EricBGE

                                                                                            You're right...the instructions say three hours of steam, and I only did one hour.

                                                                                            I will steam the point longer, when I get that far.

                                                                                            1. re: Monch

                                                                                              Maybe you only have to steam enough to re-warm. Maybe try it after an hour and go from there?

                                                                                              1. re: porker

                                                                                                Maybe after the smoke, cook it less, maybe 2 hours. Then steam 2-3 hours to break down connective tissue.

                                                                                                Also, MSM does tend to fall apart a bit. They use all the odds and ends in poutine, spaghetti, hash, pizza, etc.

                                                                                                1. re: JMF

                                                                                                  Mmm. Now I'm getting a hankering, too. Still convinced that an overnight in the sous vide will do more for the brisket than steaming, but Imma have to try it to find out.

                                                                                                  Sigh. Meat.

                                                                                              2. re: Monch

                                                                                                Sorry, me again.

                                                                                                Night and day; flat to point.

                                                                                                Just steamed and cut the point. In the steam, I brought it just up to 190F and turned off the heat.

                                                                                                Let it rest for about a half hour and the result was even better than I could have hoped.

                                                                                                Juicy, with enough structure to allow for slicing. Still all the spice notes that were in the flat.

                                                                                                The first thing my wife said was "That first piece can go for hash"

                                                                                                I cannot thank everyone enough for the information that they donated to this thread...with an obvious special "click of the sharpening steel" to Porker.

                                                                                                This was NOT easy...it was not cheap, but attention to the details and a rock solid recipe turned out some great results.

                                                                                                Photos attached

                                                                                                1. re: Monch

                                                                                                  I found the same thing with my point vs the flat. I think next time I may cut it like you did and cook them based on IT and assume the flat will be ready much quicker since it is almost half as thick

                                                                                                  1. re: setton

                                                                                                    Could not agree more.

                                                                                                    The differences in the two outcomes is stunning.

                                                                                                  2. re: Monch

                                                                                                    Now THAT is a beautiful thing;
                                                                                                    fantastic, fully cured reddish color.
                                                                                                    glistening, juicy meat.
                                                                                                    great band of intramuscular fat (lotsa flavor there).
                                                                                                    blackened, "old-fashioned" exterior.
                                                                                                    Food porn plain & simple.

                                                                                                    My only complaint is that raggety-ass line of mustard, WHADDYATRYING TO DO MONCH?
                                                                                                    Just kidding, hehe, everything looks great!

                                                                                                    It IS quite involved, but I don't think its very difficult. The multi-step process is more a pain in the ass.

                                                                                                    Good job Monch!

                                                                                                    1. re: porker

                                                                                                      Thanks for the good words...It's great to have the feedback.

                                                                                                      You're spot on...none of the steps are particularly difficult...just lots of them...

                                                                                                      Point = sammies
                                                                                                      Flat = Hash
                                                                                                      MSM = Deliciousness
                                                                                                      Deliciousness = Happy wife!


                                                              2. re: porker

                                                                Hi porker, and Hi all!
                                                                I have read your recepe and just one think i want to make sure i have understand.
                                                                you don't marinate your meet right? you only put your rub on and rap with plastic and put on fridge. And you place a pan because the moisture gonna pass truth the plastic film and drop on the fridge. That's correct?

                                                                Sorry, I'am french canadian and my english is not so good :)

                                                                1. re: Jonney


                                                                  Don't apologize...my French is terrible, so I won't even try.

                                                                  Yes: Only rub and wrap in plastic.

                                                                  Correct: Because you cannot completely seal the brisket, by wrapping, you must put in a container/pan.

                                                                  Follow Porker's recipe....to the letter...and you'll be amazed!!

                                                                  C'est tres bon!!!!!!

                                                                  1. re: Monch

                                                                    Thanks for your help!
                                                                    On one hand i know i can use plastic wrap like porker and it will work. But on the other i'am still confuse.

                                                                    What exactly is the goal of the wrapping?
                                                                    Retain moisture? But not all? Remove air exposure?

                                                                    When using plastic wrap the moisture goes out a bit with time, that really what we want? if i use a big vacuum bag it will be better?

                                                                    And why not just put in the fridge without any wrap, just like ( i think ) they do with jerky and other kind of curing.

                                                                    Biggreenmatt: When using ziploc, i you try to remove maximum air from it? And if i understand, you use a pan only in case the bag broke?

                                                                    I just order instacure, I can't wait to start curing!

                                                                    And just for fun, there is a picture of my poutine with Schwartz's smoke meet! also caramelized onion, red pepper, peperoni, cheese curd topped with spicy meet sauce and gratin with mozzarella :) mmmmmm

                                                                    Thanks for help!

                                                                    1. re: Jonney

                                                                      The reason you wrap it is because you want the meat to be soaking in the brine. This is also why you need to be flipping it every other day at minimum. You do want to get as much air as possible out of it. Vacuum sealing is even better.

                                                                      Without a sealed environment you are drying out the meat, which isn't what you're going for. That's fine if you're making/hanging saucisson sec, bresaola, etc but not for bacon.

                                                                      1. re: Zalbar

                                                                        Thanks Zalbar!

                                                                        So its like a cross between dry curing and wet curing. The goal is to let the meet sit in is own juice, with no air contact.


                                                                        1. re: Jonney

                                                                          Bonjour Jonney,
                                                                          I've been working alot lately and don't get to CH much these days (In fact just finished work and its 3am...).

                                                                          Anyway, it seems like these fine folks answered your questions.

                                                                          I'll add my 2c...
                                                                          I like to weigh down my curing smoked meat (put weight on it while in the fridge). It may or may not be required, but I feel it helps curing by physically stressing the meat. Again, this may false, but I do it.
                                                                          If the meat was not wrapped, the weight (case of beer, plywood with a coupla 10lb weights, flat of diet pepsi, whatever) will come into contact with the meat - BAD. The cure would also be rubbed off to some extant.

                                                                          Plastic wrap or giant ziplock, your choice.

                                                                          Bon chance!

                                                                          1. re: porker

                                                                            Thanks for your advice.
                                                                            I receive my instacure yesteday, and i go to my favorite butcher to buy a 21 day aged whole brisket. Its already in the fridge with the rub.

                                                                            I'am surprise by how much rub i get with your recipe!
                                                                            One small concern about the rub, i crush the pepercorn but not the coriander seeds...i hope this is not a big deel??


                                                                            1. re: Jonney

                                                                              Hey Jonney,
                                                                              I prefer to crush the coriander as I feel it releases more of its oils, aromas, etc.
                                                                              But hey, its not a big deal for the curing aspect. Maybe consider crushing (pulsing in a blender a bit) the coriander/peppercorn final rub.

                                                                              Just a thought; this type of prep, I believe, was created to help preserve meat at a time when refrigeration wasn't around. Those early folks perhaps did not worry too much about aging or Grade AAA - they were just trying to save the meat.
                                                                              Now I'm not saying a dry-aged brisket won't work, I'm just wondering if the added cost would be justified.
                                                                              Maybe, if you are happy with the results and repeat this little experiment, try it with a run-of-the-mill brisket next time and compare with your dry-aged brisket. I'd be interested in the results.

                                                                              Try to take notes of your steps along the way, they'll help out next time.

                                                                              1. re: porker

                                                                                Good idea, i will crush the coriander for the last rub.

                                                                                I'am not suprise you tell me this about the aging of the meat. I feel its nice to use, but the main reason its because its the only one my butcher have when i go there.

                                                                              2. re: Jonney

                                                                                I think it is a waste to use a nice aged brisket for this. The whole purpose is to use a flavorful but tough cut of meat.

                                                                    2. re: Jonney

                                                                      God I wish my French was better; your English is far superior to my French.

                                                                      No marinade or liquid brining- it's a dry-cure, which will leach moisture out of the meat, requiring the pan. Also, it goes into a gigantic plastic ziploc bag, not wrapped in plastic-wrap.

                                                                      Good luck!

                                                                      1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                        Now I'm getting a hankering for brisket..... may need to call up my butcher to order me some...

                                                                        1. re: biggreenmatt


                                                                          In general, where do gigantic zip bags come from?

                                                                          I'm in Wisconsin, and the largest I can find are two-gallon, at my local large grocery store. They are GREAT for brining porkbelly, for bacon.

                                                                          However, I'm quite certain that my Costco brisket would not fit in a two-gallon.

                                                                          1. re: Monch

                                                                            I go to Walmart and pick up their XL and XXL ziplock storage bags.

                                                                            Do they say "food safe"? No. Can I imagine that there's any difference between the food safe stuff and the non? No.

                                                                            1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                              Resourceful AND practical!

                                                                              I'm impressed.

                                                                              1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                Actually there is difference between food safe and ones that don't say food safe. They are made of different types of plastic.

                                                                                I have a box of the extra large storage bags and it says "not safe for food" on the box in tiny print. So I looked it up and found that you have to make sure you use food safe bags, especially when salts, cure,oils or acids are in the bag with food. Or for extended periods of time. (More than 30-60 minutes.)

                                                                                1. re: JMF

                                                                                  You do need to be somewhat careful, but as far as I know Ziplock (that specific brand) are all food safe.

                                                                        2. re: porker

                                                                          Basically did this recipe though with a point cut brisket, used the oven to steam and added a little mustard powder and smoked paprika to the rub. Smoked with mostly hickory with a little mesquite mixed in.

                                                                          I'm trying to do a Toronto smoked meat since Caplansky dropped the ball. I miss those Monarch sandwiches. The next one I do I'll mess around with the rub some more and tweak the smoking.

                                                                          So thanks for posting the recipe! It worked nicely.

                                                                          1. re: lister

                                                                            Glad things worked out.
                                                                            Thats the beauty of tinkering; you can get what YOU want.

                                                                          2. My meat is on day 9 of the cure (fuck me, it's taking up an inordinate amount of room in my fridge!), and as an interesting aside, I came across this article on the Toronto smoke meat joint I was talking about before, Caplansky's.


                                                                            Of note, the article suggests, just as I was suggesting, that because dry-curing takes so bloody long, Zane Caplansky may be (not confirmed) switching over to a more efficient wet-cure.

                                                                            Also interesting: on a typical Saturday, they sell 150 smoke meat sammiches. Assuming that those are the ordinary 7oz and not the jumbo-sized, the strict math of the matter (assuming zero waste) means that Caplansky's sells 65 1/2 pounds of smoke meat, or about six full double briskets.

                                                                            Will post my pix of my version of smoke meat on Sunday, after I serve it.

                                                                            9 Replies
                                                                            1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                              Good article. I've heard of Caplansky's from this board, but did not know his humble backstory. I also didn't expect him to look like the guy in the picture...
                                                                              As a purist, I want to say that quality tends to go down with mass production. As a pragnmatist, I hope it can be done well!
                                                                              I suppose at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter if the meat is sliced by hand, or by a machine. Just that something is to be said of tradition.

                                                                              I wonder if the wet cure will produce a more even product as the article hints at. Having a longer cure time with a dry rub isn't necessarily an impossible hurdle: it would mean more inventory (meaning more investment sitting idle) and more cold storage space (again $), but with planning, should be simple enough. Regardless, Caplansky doesn't seem comfortable talking about it. Is it because he wants to protect his method from possible competition? Or maybe he doesn't like to discuss the changes required for mass production? Maybe a bit of both?

                                                                              One benefit of your home cure is if you can't complete the process on a given day (rinse, smoke, fridge, steam), just keep it in the fridge with the cure. 3-4 days one way or another won't have you losing the brisket

                                                                              BTW, I made a half hearted look for good short ribs to cure this past weekend, nothing came up. Depending on traffic conditions (Montreal area is a nightmare this summer) I might do a search in earnest.

                                                                              Looking forward to your results!

                                                                              1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                I saw this on a Caplansky thread on the Ontario (Toronto) board
                                                                                ...none too happy with the newfangled process.

                                                                                1. re: porker

                                                                                  Yeah, I figured as much. I'll tell you though, if I could get as good a quality product doing a wet cure as a dry, I'd be completely on board. This whole wait-two-weeks-to-eat is excruciating. And in fairness to Zane, he's in a ruthless business. EVERYONE has an opinion on this topic and unfavourable comparisons to other smoke meat joints are the norm. "Not as good as Schwartz's", "not as good as Smoke Meat Pete", blah blah blah. The minute he changes anything from the accepted norm (i.e.: his product becomes less an artisinal product and more food), the "purists" are all over the pure guy. Corey Mintz is a purist- take him with a grain of salt. In any event, under the circumstances, I think that from Zane's perspective, there's absolutely no benefit to discussing his methods with anybody.

                                                                                  On the other hand, there's a gigantic benefit to discussing YOUR method! Three words: holy fucking shit. Smoked it today and even without the steaming it's a ridiculously good product. Phenomenally stupidly ridiculously good. It needs to steam, but both my CSL wife and I both agree that as it stands right now, it's on par with SMP and/or Schwartz's. Tender, (but not super-tender like it will be tomorrow), salty, mildly smoky, spicy. Incredible. We've been picking at it for the last 2 hours and need to remind ourselves to leave it the hell alone so we can serve it tomorrow.

                                                                                  FOR ANYONE ELSE READING THIS: your recipe and method are dead-on. It's a pain in the ass with lots of steps, but it produces the real deal. Expat Montrealers will be stunned and shocked at the results. It's the real deal.

                                                                                  And as a sneak peak:

                                                                                  1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                    sol (smiling out loud)!
                                                                                    I'm laughing 'cause I was tentative to share my note/recipe book words:
                                                                                    Some of the best smoked meat we've had, similar to Schwartz!! Cured through and through. Oh my God, good"
                                                                                    as I thought people would say "what a bunch of crap"...
                                                                                    then I read
                                                                                    " holy fucking shit....it's a ridiculously good product. Phenomenally stupidly ridiculously good....it's on par with SMP and/or Schwartz's. Tender, (but not super-tender like it will be tomorrow), salty, mildly smoky, spicy. Incredible."
                                                                                    The sneak peak looks sweet - nice color, streaky bits of fat, and a nice bark of coriander and pepper.

                                                                                    I don't know if you're having friends over, or its just you and the wife, tomorrow, but let me just recount my first time: the meat came out of the steamer and we were all agog. I couldn't wait until I had it all nice and sliced, so I hacked off pieces, just finger bits, really, and passed them around. The room filled with ummmms and ohhhhs and mannnnnns all around. Our initial curiosity sated, I got down to the business of slicing that bad boy.
                                                                                    I could have hand sliced the brisket, but I didn't trust myself. Knowing this, I had the commercial slicer already out and revved up. I sliced up 3/4 of the meat in one shot and had it piled gloriously high on a single plate.
                                                                                    We sat down, 10 of us, family and friends, with a couple loaves of kimmel rye and 5 kinds of mustard.
                                                                                    "How do we eat this?" someone asked.
                                                                                    "Anyway you want!"
                                                                                    So we ate it straight up, we ate it in sandwiches, we ate it with a knife and fork, and we ate it with our fingers.
                                                                                    I felt like the kid in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory...I mean I was never in the presence of so much plentiful goodness.
                                                                                    I was buzzing in nirvana.

                                                                                    Have a good time and remember to share pictures!
                                                                                    BTW, Cotes-St.-Luc wife?

                                                                                    1. re: porker

                                                                                      So all this talk of smoked meat had me going.
                                                                                      Stopped in my favorite butcher this afternoon (brought a cooler with ice packs for the heatwave), Joseph at Fairmont on St. Laurent in Mtl. I wanted a chunk of shortrib to cure, like the one shown in the ruhlman url above. He didn't have exactly what I was looking for, but I have a 4 bone short rib that I'll start curing on the morrow.

                                                                                      Fairmont is a hop-skip-and jump from Schwartz and there was no line, so I says to the wife "a sandwich?"
                                                                                      We're eating 2 medium fat, 2 fries, 1 slaw, and a grilled liver app at the counter. I ask our waiter "I have a friend in Toronto who wants to know if you dry-cure or wet-cure the briskets?"
                                                                                      He doesn't even blink, nor skip a beat, "Dry cure, all dry cure....why you gonna do it yourselves in Toronto?"
                                                                                      "Naw, just curious is all."
                                                                                      "Yeah, just dry with spices. In fact the whole upstairs is full of barrels", he says, pointing to the ceiling, "everyone is dated."
                                                                                      "No liquid in the barrels?" I ask, again watching his face for twtches, or darting eyes.
                                                                                      He doesn't flinch one bit, "No liquid, just spices. Its a long process: they stay in the barrel for 10 days, 8 hours of smoking, and 3 hours in the steamer." he juts his jaw, indicating the steamer behind the counter.

                                                                                      So there you have it, Schwartz apparently dry cures (if the waiter was telling the truth...).

                                                                                      1. re: porker

                                                                                        Yo bgmatt,
                                                                                        I'm mucking around a Montreal thread called "Montreal smoked meat--The Main v. Schwartz's"
                                                                                        and EaterBob posts a link to a short film called Birth of the Smoked Meat;

                                                                                        Its entertaining enough, but interestingly, you can see them gang-needling the briskets with cure at 56 seconds into the film. Notice the brisket coming outta the machine with the pump tubes at the top.
                                                                                        Also, when pulling the briskets outta the curing barrel (around 1:06), its full of liquid. I'm guessing they wet cure at The Main which is across the street from Schwartz.....

                                                                                        1. re: porker

                                                                                          It's funny- I remember one of Embee's posts in this thread, really getting into the nitty gritty about how to tell dry cured from wet cured to ordinary supermarket cured. I found it absolutely fascinating and a good way on how to approach the sophistimacated tasting of smoked meat for those of us with an "advanced" smoke meat palate. :P

                                                                                          If I could get the same results with wet as dry, I'd certainly use it and to hell with "tradition". Making a full brisket in a week's time rather than two would be a godsend.

                                                                                          S'been a while since I've made some. Think I know how I'll be spending part of my long weekend.

                                                                                          1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                            You could always go half and half. Inject and rub. Would cut down on the curing time.

                                                                                            1. re: Zalbar

                                                                                              Could do. But I'm more of a proponent of the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" school.

                                                                              2. Yap. So. Steamed it last night and served it as the last of three mains at our housewarming party.

                                                                                Between you and me, I'm not 100% sure how well it turned out, in that deep self-critical way when it's just yourself, thinking about what you made. The half-sandwich I got out of it was from the flat which meant it was leaner and dryer than I would've preferred (I usually get fat)- still tasty, but missing that happy, fatty mouthfeel that comes out of the fatty side.

                                                                                In any event, let's put self-doubt issues aside for the moment and talk about the reception it received. Montrealer ex-pats (yep, the wife's from CSL) declared it absolutely magnificent- worthy of being called Montreal smoke meat. The entire brisket was gone in 20 minutes. Two vegetarians decided to take a night off and eat some cow. I posted the pictures on my facebook and the peeps are raving about it. Absolute hit; whoever came up with this is a genius

                                                                                Per your request, here's the pictoral process, including how I improvised a steamer rather than spend $120.00 for a restaurant-grade steamer.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                  That looks amazing - I'd even go for all those scraps in picture #8!

                                                                                2. Great thread. I do a lot of BBQ smoking, briskets, pork shoulders, etc. But I had tried to make pastrami with a bit of a cheat: I got a whole packer brisket/corned beef from a restaurant supply house. They run about 14-18 lbs, flat and point. Already brined. I soak the thing in cold water with a couple of change outs to get a bunch of the salt out of it. Then rub with rough cracked peppercorns, coriander seed, mustard seed. Then smoke for about 6 hours with hickory and a little mesquite. Then wrap in foil and finish in the oven at about 300 or 350, generating the "steam treatment" for about 4 or so hours, until it reaches about 190 internal. It will be very tender and slices easily. I haven't had Montreal meat, but I think this is a cross between that and pastrami. Give it a try. But you need a BIG corned beef.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: woodburner

                                                                                    excellent thread, thanks soo much for sharing!! Porker - real good insight as well.

                                                                                    1. re: sbmfj

                                                                                      I am trying to find the recipe for the pastrami but I can't seem to be able to. Can someone help me find it, the dry cured recipe I am looking for. Thanks so much.

                                                                                  2. Porker, my good man, I had a thought.

                                                                                    After the raging success this weekend, my first thought is to make another batch, but a full 12 pounder just for myself at one "sitting" seems a little ridiculous (if tempting). What are your thoughts on completing the brisket to the smoking stage, slicing it up and then freezing it to be steamed as required? I'll tell you, while having a full brisket at once would be a waste, there's something to be said for 24 half-pound freezer bags of succulent smoke meat, waiting to be thrown in the steamer. Granted, the quality may suffer a little from the freeze, but it should (?) still be better than anything else you might otherwise be able to find outside of PQ.


                                                                                    44 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                      I'm not Porker, but I've frozen Schwartz's brisket before, and the aftermath wasn't great. However, if that're your only recourse, vacuum sealing and placing into a low-temp non-frost-free chest freezer should mitigate some of the freeze damage.

                                                                                      I'm liking Porker's idea of doing this with short ribs though as a smaller quantity alternative.

                                                                                      1. re: wattacetti

                                                                                        Would I be committing blasphemy if I said that I found Schwartz's meat dry at the best of times?

                                                                                        I suspect freezing it after the smoking is done might be okay. Per Porker's instructions, once it comes off the smoker, it's still not quite done. Rather than have a finished product, freeze and then steam (essentially overcooking it), this is freezing a half-completed product, which (in theory) means that when you steam after freezing, all you're doing is finishing it off.

                                                                                        Fuck it. I think I'm going to try it anyways. One small step for man.

                                                                                        1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                          No, I've had sandwiches cut from the flat that necessitated an extra can and a lot of mustard. I've found that Schwartz's "medium" has gotten progressively drier over the years to the point where I now order fat or double-fat.

                                                                                          I will live vicariously through you, so post your post-freeze impressions. Can you test frozen/non-frozen portions from the same general portion of brisket?

                                                                                          1. re: wattacetti

                                                                                            Woof. Uh, sure, but it's not gonna happen overnight. Still letting my arteries recover from this past weekend, but sure, I'll drop a note (eventually) to let y'all know how well it freezes.

                                                                                            If it freezes well, how awesome would that be? Immediate and long-term access to el-primo smoke meat in your own home!

                                                                                          2. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                            As I mentioned, we ate there just last week, both ordering medium. It was on the dry side. Not only that, but I actually used the salt shaker on the meat....
                                                                                            I'll be ordering fat next time as suggested by wattacetti below.

                                                                                          3. re: wattacetti

                                                                                            I've got 3 pieces that look like the ones to the right here
                                                                                            and a small rack of short ribs like this
                                                                                            they're curing now, I'll post pictures and comments as I go (sometime next week).

                                                                                          4. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                            It IS a process: 9-12 days curing, a day to smoke and cool, and another day to steam. The results are definitely worth it, but its not like "Hey, I have a hankering for homemade smoked meat, lets have some Thursday night for dinner..."
                                                                                            I think freezing it is an excellent idea. You could probably just throw the pouch into a pot of simmering water (as suggested by Schwartz or Quebec Smoked Meat for their vacuum packed take-out brisket). But you'd want to simmer for a long while as you want to get it tender.
                                                                                            Only suggestion would be to freeze it in both sliced and chunk format, I don't know, maybe four 2-pound bags of whole pieces and eight half-pound bags of sliced. You can decide if its better to pre-slice, or keep whole pieces.

                                                                                            1. re: porker

                                                                                              Hi Porker,

                                                                                              Id like to attempt these short rib "smoked meat style" as well. Would you use the same recipe for the dry cure as stated above

                                                                                              ( 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))

                                                                                              Now, seeing as the short ribs are much smaller, do you think a quarter or half of the above recipe would be sufficient enough?

                                                                                              I also need to acquire some ReadyCure or Instacure. I think I'd like to get the Readycure as it results in a meat that is redder in color, seems more appealing. Do you know where I can get some in Montreal? Im fully mobile, so I dont mind driving at all. Worst case scenario, Id order online from that sausage making website.

                                                                                              Last but not least, when going to my local butcher to get the short ribs, how should I have him prepare them? cube like in the photo you posted, but what about that bigger piece? Is there a membrane to remove?

                                                                                              I think I can hack this, but last time I bought short ribs, I got some funky huge piece of meat that was almost 6-7" high, and lots of fat.

                                                                                              Im going to try these short ribs first, and if it works out, Ill move on to a brisket, and have a smoked meat party...:)

                                                                                              Lat question. When getting the brisket, we want the double sided, and not just the point, right?

                                                                                              Thanks, James

                                                                                              Oh, and BiggreenMatt, As you used Readycure, and the above recipe calls for Instacure, you mentioned a 6/1 ratio. So, If the recipe calls for 4 TBLspoons of Insta (4 TBLS = 12 TSP), using the 6/1 ratio, did you really use 72tsp of Readycure?

                                                                                              1. re: sbmfj

                                                                                                That recipe is good enough for 3-4 briskets+, so yeah, 1/4 of the amount will be good enough for a batch of shortribs or even a brisket.

                                                                                                I never used ReadyCure, but what I gather from a quick search (coming across the same sites biggreenmatt mentions) ReadyCure is similar to Instacure, but with a different ratio of Sodium Nitrite to salt.
                                                                                                But first...
                                                                                                Its not that one product or another will necessarily produce a pinker product, its the Sodium Nitrite which does the heavy lifting in this department.
                                                                                                Instacure is basically 6.25% sodium nitrite and 93.75% salt (actually theres a bit of coloring and anticaking agents thrown in the mix). From what I read, ReadyCure seems to be 1% sodium nitrite and 99% salt.
                                                                                                So in actual fact, Instacure carries more of a punch (6.25x) in the Sodium Nitrate (curing) department. If using ReadyCure in the recipe above, you'd have to use (6.25x4TBL) 25 tablespoons in place of the 4 TBL of Instacure.

                                                                                                So why not use straight Sodium Nitrate, right? well 5lbs is enough to cure 2400lbs meat. So to cure 1lb, youd need only 5/2400lb instacure, or .0021lbs. Now, Instacure is only 6.25% sodium nitrate, so to cure 1lb, you need (.0625x.0021) 0.00013lbs instacure.
                                                                                                (or .002oz or 0.06grams)
                                                                                                This is kinda difficult to measure for the average home guy.
                                                                                                Also considering sodium nitrate can be considered toxic in "high" amounts (and/or other health related problems), you don't want to be putting more than you need.

                                                                                                Now where to get Instacure or ReadyCure (or Mortons Tender Quick or Prague Powder #1 for that matter) in Montreal? Goooood luck. Maybe read this
                                                                                                Like me and a coupla others in that thread, it is possible to score some curing compounds from a butcher, or grocer. Problem is (in my case) its expensive and you might not know what you're getting. I'd suggest the on-line route. Hell if you're desperate, I'll give you some...

                                                                                                How to get the shortribs...
                                                                                                I was kind of disappointed here.
                                                                                                I never saw what I was looking for at Maxi, SuperC, IGA, Metro, Loblaws.
                                                                                                I went to a generic butcher that had a mess of shortribs in their case. I asked for the same, but with a thicker portion above the ribs as well as to have a slab rather than sliced 1/4inch thick.
                                                                                                "Thats how we receive them" was the response.
                                                                                                Then I went see Joe at Fairmont on St. Laurent. I asked him what I wanted and he laughed. He said they don't cut them that way anymore, that they USED to do it, but not anymore. (I wasn't sure if "they" meant his staff or just a blanket term. I also maybe expected him to cut me a piece from a primal cut, but that didn't seem to be in the cards, so I didn't ask) So instead, I bought a slab of shortribs with less meat above the ribs. I also found a 3-piece of inch thick shortribs with about 3 inches of meat above the ribs. I'll post pictures when they're outta the plastic wrap and cure.
                                                                                                Maybe find a butcher who will cut from a primal piece and get exactly what you want.

                                                                                                As for getting a brisket, maybe have a look here
                                                                                                kinda like a pictorial tutorial on brisket. Its rare to find a whole packer in these parts. Whenever I ordered a brisket, I simply said just that: "I want a brisket" and I get the 'flat'. Next time, I will request "the full brisket, the flat and the tip, please" and see what I get.
                                                                                                I think for smoked meat the fat layer between the flat and the point is a good thing.

                                                                                                1. re: sbmfj

                                                                                                  Readycure is available through canadacompound.com, though around here a local grocery chain carried it, which made it easier. I got the Readycure/Instacure conversion from this site: http://www.urbanhippy.ca/making/bacon, though I think I mucked up the salt ratio by translating into tablespoons rather than teaspoons. At the end it's academic, since even with three times the amount of salt (oops), it still turned out fabulously.

                                                                                                  Porker's right- I halved his recipe so put in half the amount of Readycure.

                                                                                                  Any jewish or jewish-style butcher will carry full briskets as a matter of course, which may necessitate a trip for you out west. Listen, if you like smoke meat enough to be willing to go through what's frankly a long and irritating process to make the damn thing, then you might as well make it worth your while and make lots of it, freezing what you don't use. I'm thinking that a pound of sliced meat would likely take 25 minutes or so of gentle steaming to cook, provided you stopped the process and froze it right before the steaming stage in porker's recipe.

                                                                                                  Good luck!

                                                                                                  1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                    thanks for following guys. Just read that whole thread from earlier this year about Nitri(a)tes. Kinda scared now, as was that Blondie47 person. Anyhow, I think Ill just order the stuff online from sausagemaker.com. I figure 1LB of Instacure No 1 should be sufficient (10$). Go big or go home right?! Am I making a mistake? lol. Shipping fees are brutal though, 16$$$. Maybe Ill check out a few places in NDG. Theres a polish bakery on Decarie (Chopin) and the ladys pretty nice to me, and they make all their own sausages....

                                                                                                    Oh and matt, did you soak your maple chunks prior to putting on the BGE. I got one too, arent they the best thing ever? You should build yourself a cart if you have the room, and desire one, very handy. Excellent plans on the nakedwhiz website. (http://www.nakedwhiz.com/tableplans/t...) Here's mine...followed the plans to the T...


                                                                                                    couldnt get the [IMG] way to work....

                                                                                                    1. re: sbmfj

                                                                                                      Some Euro style delis turn up their nose when asked about nitri(a)tes. I've had people bark at me, "Not here, we use only *natural* ingredients and no chemicals".
                                                                                                      OK OK, so you don't cure with nitrites, you just had to say no....

                                                                                                      I bought some a couple of years ago from the butcher at the back of Frutta Si in LaSalle. It was something like $10 fo 4oz (equivalent to $40/lb). It wasn't pink, so it wasn't instacure, so I wasn't sure what it was. I asked if it had sodium nitrate and the guy kinda brushed me off, "Yeah, yeah, its got ALL the stuff in it". It worked fine, however.

                                                                                                      Being apprehensive, well I think thats natural. Like I say in that long Blondie47 post, just educate yourself, treat it with respect and as intended, and you'll have no problems. I compare it to something like gasoline, or propane, or even medication - yeah sure, go buy some, know what its about, and use it correctly - no problem.

                                                                                                      1. re: porker

                                                                                                        Sorry to get in the middle of this, but I have all the tools to try Porker's recipe, but cannot seem to see a detail in which I'm interested: Type of wood to use in the smoker.

                                                                                                        I have the Bradley digital 4-shelf and have hickory, alder, mesquite (would not dream of using on this recipe), and pecan.

                                                                                                        I am leaning towards a 2:1 mix of alder to hickory, but would like advice, if I can ask.

                                                                                                        If I can do this on the Q-T, and surprise my wife, I'll be a domestic god! (she never looks in my downstairs beer fridge...mine to stock and keep clean, don'tcha know?)

                                                                                                        Many thanks in advance and apologies if the answer is above and I simply overlooked.

                                                                                                        Regards from Wisconsin.

                                                                                                        1. re: Monch

                                                                                                          Biggreenmatt mentioned he used Maple chunks if that helps. I assume he used lump charcoal in his BGE.

                                                                                                          1. re: sbmfj

                                                                                                            That's right: lump charcoal on the Egg and I think I used four good-sized maple chunks. Given the heavenly smell that wafts out of Smoke Meat Pete, I can't imagine that MSM would be the same with anything other than maple.

                                                                                                            And no, I didn't soak the maple chunks, which were about 2/3rds the size of a good-sized fist. Don't need to, nor do you need to replace them, even after a long smoke. Just finished a fourteen hour smoke @ 250 for a pulled pork this weekend (course #1 of my epic meal) and there were still lots left from the apple chunks I was using. That's the nice thing about chunks, rather than chips- just chuck it in the smoker and forget about it.

                                                                                                            1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                              I appreciate it.

                                                                                                              Maple it is...I'll get the right "pucks" for my Bradley and get rolling on this.

                                                                                                              Given that this delight is from Canada, it makes good sense that maple is the hardwood used...I should have thought before I typed...and read the thread thoroughly.

                                                                                                              Sorry to have been a pest.

                                                                                                              1. re: Monch

                                                                                                                A pleasure. It's funny though, an American wanting to make this kind of meat, especially since you've likely never tasted it before.

                                                                                                                The real thing is something, though. I'm from Toronto (porker and smbfj are from Montreal), and it's a real problem that outside of Quebec, it's very very very difficult to find good smoke meat. There are places in Toronto that make it, some that even mostly succeed, but none that are consistently terrific.

                                                                                                                For people who care about this (very, very few), it's an obsession that rivals the obsessions of southern barbecue- and that's why I'm so excited about being able to make a comparable product at home. That and my Montreal wife loves it and the nearest "consistent" smoke meat joint is a five hour drive away.

                                                                                                                1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                  Nope, spent a week on my own in Montreal years ago.

                                                                                                                  Walking St. Catherine's, hitting the smoked meat shops, eating dim sum in China Town.

                                                                                                                  Then brought my new wife to that beautiful city years later. Hitting Mont Royal park, celebrity-spotting Harry Anderson at an outdoor cafe, and hitting those sandwich shops...she loved it. "My little carnivore" seems to remember little of that trip OTHER than Montreal smoked meat...even though the hotel put us on a corner that gave us a brilliant view of the fireworks competition.

                                                                                                                  We are BBQers and I need SOME reason to fire up the digital smoker beyond andouille, smoked cheese (yeah, Wisconsin), and pulled pork. My first foray into Texas brisket was abominable, and this seems to be an admirable way to use a brisket.

                                                                                                                  I've even looked, today, at the Bradley Smoker forum, and there seem to be many folks with opinions on this iconic product.

                                                                                                                  More later, if I can be so bold.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Monch

                                                                                                                    BiggreenMatt, did your brisket have the full point and flat? How fatty was the flat if you had one?

                                                                                                                    1. re: sbmfj

                                                                                                                      Yup, it was a full brisket. The flat was lean. Bleah.

                                                                                                                  2. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                    A guy opened Mile End awhile back in Brooklyn featuring Montreal Smoked Meat
                                                                                                                    I mention this as Monch's favorite meal was at Katz - pastrami on rye. I feel Katz' pastrami is a riff on the Montreal Smoked Meat (or vice versa). Ifn Monch does make it, I think he'll be a very happy man (and wife).

                                                                                                                    FWIT, I barrel smoke. My firebox fuel is almost always maple lump. I generally smoke with apple or hickory, including the brisket.

                                                                                                                    1. re: porker

                                                                                                                      Hey Porker,

                                                                                                                      Where's a good place to pick up some wood chunks for smoking?


                                                                                                                      1. re: sbmfj

                                                                                                                        I assume you mean "chips" and not a cousin of the wooden Indian? - hehe.

                                                                                                                        Canadian tire has a few different brands. Rona and Home Depot carry some. Hogg hardware should have some and I'm pretty sure Walmart has em too.

                                                                                                                        All of these are chips and some border on sawdust.

                                                                                                                        I haven't seen chunks around here, but have seen them for sale at Price Chopper in the states. You can gather and dry your own chunks, but store-bought chips are convenient.

                                                                                                          2. re: porker

                                                                                                            Europeans tend to favor potassium nitrate (saltpetre, KNO3) while the U.S. went to sodium and potassium nitrites without adequately explaining why, some 50 years ago.
                                                                                                            Probably a cost measure, as the nitrites are synthetic, and KNO3 was derived from seabird droppings in Chile.

                                                                                                            Saltpetre is a natural product and was good enough for my grandparents, with no cancer in sight. The nitrate converts to nitrite during the curing process.

                                                                                                            I can buy 16 oz of saltpetre KNO3 at any Rexall, on order. Takes a day. Costs $14.

                                                                                                            How to use it? Just look up recipes in the U.S. university extension services; I have used U of Missouri, West Virginia Tech., and U. of Virginia. These people know the history of curing, and its safety limits. You don't want too much or too little, or base results on redness rather than safety.

                                                                                                            1. re: jayt90

                                                                                                              Just ordered my Readycure for CanadaCompound, should get it sometime next week. Biggreenmatt, if you were to make another brisket, how much Readycure would you use? Would you use the above recipe in its same proportions, or divide it in 3 or 4 (Porker mentioned 1/4 might be enough for a brisket)?


                                                                                                              1. re: sbmfj

                                                                                                                Good man! Welcome to the club!

                                                                                                                I followed porker's recipe, though I halved it for one brisket only. I got the instacure/salt to readycure/salt ratios from this website: http://www.foodwithlegs.com/?tag=read..., which worked really well. Granted, I think I mis-converted the salt and put in tablespoons rather than teaspoons, but it didn't have any effect on the end product.

                                                                                                                This, then, is my (mis)converted Readycure application:

                                                                                                                1/2 c (moderately heaping) Readycure
                                                                                                                1/4 c (moderately heaping) kosher salt
                                                                                                                1/8lb sugar
                                                                                                                1/8lb coriander seed, ground
                                                                                                                1.5 TBL clove, ground
                                                                                                                1.5 TBL bay leaf, ground

                                                                                                                Followed by 10 days stuffed in a XXL ziplock back in the fridge, flipped 2x/day (didn't bother weighing it down- not enough fridge room), good rinse, soak in cold water 3 hrs (changing water every 1/2 hour), apply 2:1 deckle of cracked pepper to cracked coriander, dry in fridge overnight, smoke next day over maple 4 hours @ 250, into the over for 5 hours at 250, let cool to room temp, in fridge overnight, gently steam for 3 hours next day, slice & serve.

                                                                                                                You'll love it.

                                                                                                                1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                  You didnt use the BGE of the entire cook? Any reason why? And the second part of the cook, brisket is wrapped in foil, correct? What internal temp are we looking for, 185ish?

                                                                                                                  1. re: sbmfj

                                                                                                                    Nope. Electricity's cheaper than lump. And I didn't test for internal temp, just five hours at 250. Could just foil it and continue on the Egg, but I had other things to cook.

                                                                                                                    Really- it's simpler than it seems and has any right to be.

                                                                                                                  2. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                    Well if you put it that way...simple, eh? - hehe.

                                                                                                                    What boggles me is the guy who first figured this out. OK OK, it was likely an evolving process, but I like to think of some guy thinking "OK, I cured my last brisket, what should I try now....howsabout adding a bit of coriander to the mix...I don't really LIKE coriander, but lets see whatll happen."
                                                                                                                    months later "OK, I traded my old staff for a brisket...last time I cured with salts and coriander...hmmmm...lets try to add, ahhh, I got lots extra laurel I don't know what else to do with...yeah, I'll try that."

                                                                                                                    Not only the ingredients, but the cooking method as well: "OK its cured, but salty as hell...shit, I ruined it...lemmee try to soak the salt out... OK, now lemmee try to smoke it awhile, that out to do SOMETHING... now what? Its not tender enough, howsabout steaming it for awhile."

                                                                                                                    1. re: porker

                                                                                                                      Yeah, Too much salt, too much nitrite; that's my concern.

                                                                                                                      1. re: jayt90

                                                                                                                        Its not an everyday item, I don't worry.

                                                                                                                      2. re: porker

                                                                                                                        Yup. Someone went Jeffrey Steingarten on it, in the beginning. Still, on its fundamentals, it is easy, and if everyone knew how easy it was, everyone would do it.

                                                                                                                        1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                          Actually, I think its the prep and curing time which keeps many people from doing it. Then theres a significant amount of people who cannot fathom the smoking process....

                                                                                                                          1. re: porker

                                                                                                                            Yeah, listen, there's lotsa steps, but really, there's nothing difficult about the process, is there?!

                                                                                                                            1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                              Cant wait to give mine a go. On a sidenote though, Porker, you seemed very well versed in Montreal cuisine. How do I make nice crispy, juicy chicken like Chalet BBQ in NDG. Have any tips to share?

                                                                                                                              1. re: sbmfj

                                                                                                                                Buy a big green egg. Uncanny chicken.

                                                                                                                                1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                                  Got one, but you mean beer can chicken, been there and done that, was ok, but not nearly as good as Chalet BBQ. Ever been? Your CSL wife may know of it.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: sbmfj

                                                                                                                                    Been there and spatchcocking over direct heat, meat side down for 45 @ 375 and then 5 min skin-side down is a very close second. Trick is in finding the sauce and those shitty buns to sop it up with. Mmm, sopping up with shitty buns...

                                                                                                                                    Back to smoke meat!

                                                                                                                                2. re: sbmfj

                                                                                                                                  Actually, I had the pleasure to work with an old timer who worked at the Chalet. This same gentleman also worked with the founder of Cote-St.Luc BBQ.
                                                                                                                                  I make a pretty close version of Chalet chicken, but its in a commercial charcoal rotisserie oven.
                                                                                                                                  Although I did chicken a dozen ways in my outdoor grills, its not *quite* the same. I would suggest a rotating spit, slightly indirect from the charcoal (if directly over, the dripping chicken fat will will catch fire). Start with a nice bird, pour a teaspoon of salt in the cavity, and brush with melted, rendered chicked fat (butter if the chicken fat not available).
                                                                                                                                  Thats about it.
                                                                                                                                  Now the gravy...thats a whole other story...

                                                                                                                                  1. re: porker

                                                                                                                                    Thanks Porker. Seems like you know EVERYONE in town!! Thanks again for sharing.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: porker

                                                                                                                                      you have a BBQ chicken gravy recipe? lol I have tried dozens of canned and dry packaged varities and haven't found anything real good compared to the rest. stuff. Do they make their own from scratch or do they have a good source that makes it?

                                                                                                                                      1. re: carl333

                                                                                                                                        I don't know about some corporate places (I'm thinking St. Hubert or Swiss Chalet), but the Chalet BBQ makes it from scratch. They premix the seasonings and spices (ultra secret). This is mixed in boiling chicken broth then thickened. You can see the Chalet's gravy boiler to the left towards the back when standing at the take-out window; a huge, 5' wide soup kettle (50 gallon sized).
                                                                                                                                        Their chicken broth? In the early days (40s/50s) they made their own from scratch. Today? I'm not sure, but assume a type of base.
                                                                                                                                        I have a recipe, but can't share it, sorry.

                                                                                                                    2. re: porker

                                                                                                                      - I've ordered curing agents from stuffers.com in Canada. They carry type 1, type 2, and Tender Quick.

                                                                                                                      - "Pink salt" is a USA thing. These products are not necessarily coloured in Canada.

                                                                                                                      - Nitrates/nitrites aren't actually necessary, though I personally find them important for flavour development in pastrami/MSM. Corned beef is fine without them (though many people are put off by the resulting colour). Dry cured corned beef made without nitrates is especially good.

                                                                                                            2. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                              so, did you try it? and?? The reason why I started with a 4 lb flat.

                                                                                                            3. Hey sbmfj! How's the meat coming?

                                                                                                              I've been getting a hankering for some meat again, and I think I'm going to make another batch and a half- a full brisket dry-cured and a point brisket wet-cured. I wonder how much a difference it'll really make if I properly wet-cured the meat and then followed the remainder of the recipe as described at length.

                                                                                                              For $20.00 of meat, I get to find out whether I can't slice a full week off of the smoke meat making process. Definitely worth the investment!

                                                                                                              1. Porker:

                                                                                                                Mate, I'm sitting here trying to go over the conversion math and double-checking my work from the first brisket and I gotta tell you- I have no idea how I came up with the conversion of your instacure to my readycure. Based on my research today, the proportions that I used shouldn't work.

                                                                                                                Oh well. I'm working out a per-pound formula so that it's easy to adjust the recipe for differently-sized briskets (I'm now working with a 9.5 lb point and a 5.3 lb double). Shall post once available.

                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                  If the Readycure is 1% nitrite and Instacure is 6.25%, you would need 6.25 times the amount of Readycure in the recipe. If I used 4TBL Instacure, you would need (4x6.25) 25TBL Readycure. As a side, thats putting in a bit more salt than asked for, so you can probably weigh out the 1.5 pounds of salt and remove 20TBL worth to even things out.

                                                                                                                  I made the short rib version last weekend, but it was way too salty. I goofed up in a couple of areas which I'll explain maybe tonight with some photos.
                                                                                                                  The pictures (and meat) looked real good, just way too salty...(head hangs in shame).

                                                                                                                  1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                    Readycure has a rub instruction on the package, no extra salt needed.
                                                                                                                    This is so simple, and won't lead to oversalting or getting too much nitrite.
                                                                                                                    I started a brisket with their instruction a week ago, and I just added pickling spice and brown sugar to the straight Readycure rub. It has been turned twice. When I rinse it early next week and dry it for a day, I'll rub in some serious Romanian spices, then lightly smoke it and cut it down for steaming.

                                                                                                                    1. re: jayt90

                                                                                                                      After 12 days of hand rubbing and curing a 10 lb. brisket I have preliminary results, and they are good.

                                                                                                                      As mentioned, I hand rubbed with 3.5 oz. Readycure, brown sugar, and pickling spice,
                                                                                                                      Turned twice, in a le Creuset vessel, in a bar fridge. After this time, it was still soft to the touch, but that is OK. If it is stiff it may be over salted.

                                                                                                                      Today I rinsed it for 10 minutes, then cut it in half, reserving the point or deckle for smoking tomorrow.

                                                                                                                      The big end was spiced with coriander seeds and pepper, then steamed for 2 hrs. to 195 F, with potatoes and kale added at the end.

                                                                                                                      I did this to find out if the penetration was complete (yes) and to to use the poorer end like corned beef. The large slices came out mild, spicy, and slightly dry as expected from this section.

                                                                                                                      The brisket was well colored, and perfectly spiced and cured. There is no oversalting if you follow the Readycure hand rub direction. No added salt is the key.

                                                                                                                      I'll add a photo tomorrow, and proceed with hickory smoking of the deckle end.

                                                                                                                  2. Well, that's the trick, innit? Figuring out the salt to cure ratio, especially important for my version since Readycure is principally made of salt. The nice thing is that despite having no idea how I actually came to the calculations I came to, there's no question that the damn thing worked. All of which goes to show that your math teacher was wrong: sometimes you don't need to show your work in order to get full credit!

                                                                                                                    So I have a 7 lb double brisket wet-curing (formula of 4L water, 1/2 lb kosher salt, .35 lb Readycure and spicing per our recipe) and a 9.5 lb point dry-curing and after some diligent work with a calculator and a conversion app, I think I now have the dry process down on a per-pound basis:

                                                                                                                    10.4 ml Readycure (2 very slightly heaping tsp)
                                                                                                                    5.2 ml kosher salt (1 very slightly heaping tsp)
                                                                                                                    2.6 ml sugar and cracked coriander (1/2 tsp each)
                                                                                                                    1.8 ml ground clove and bay leaf (1/3 tsp or a pinch each)
                                                                                                                    34.6 ml cracked black pepper (2 1/3 tb)

                                                                                                                    Dry curing time: 20 hrs per lb
                                                                                                                    Smoking time: 20 min per lb
                                                                                                                    "Baking" time: 25 min per lb
                                                                                                                    Steaming time: 15 min per lb

                                                                                                                    As far as the wet goes, the nice people at Canada Compounds said that 3-5 days wet cure should nicely pickle the brisket, so that's what I'm doing, after which stage I'm going to revert back to the original recipe. Man, would it be exciting if the wet was as good as the dry! While there's something to be said for the anticipation a two week process brings to the table, I'd be only too happy to see it dropped down to one!

                                                                                                                    Oh, and if anyone's smart enough to make a shitload of cure (rather than make it on an as-needed basis like I stupidly am) on the grounds that such a great recipe should be used over and over again, by my calculations, you need about 59 ml or just under a quarter-cup of cure per pound of brisket.

                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                      Get yourself an injector
                                                                                                                      and pump - you'll likely reduce your wet cure time by half.
                                                                                                                      I read that you might be tempted to re-use your pickle brine, but its not a good idea.

                                                                                                                      So I bought a piece of rib and a few pieces of short rib.
                                                                                                                      My plan of action was to cure them for maybe 5 days (everything was going to be scaled down as they were smaller than a brisket), rinse, seasoning mix and overnight, smoke for 2 hours, overnight in fridge, then steam for 2 hours.

                                                                                                                      One thing led to another and it ended up dry-curing for 2 weeks....(major mistake 1, over-curing
                                                                                                                      )So I rinse off cure and soak in water 1.5 hours, changing water twice...(mistake 2, not enough soak to help get salt out. This would have been moot had I not cured for so long...)
                                                                                                                      Rub with cracked pepper and coriander, wrap, overnight in fridge.
                                                                                                                      Smoke for 2 hours @ 275-300F
                                                                                                                      Wrap and overnight in fridge.
                                                                                                                      Steam for 2 hours.

                                                                                                                      Texture was there, color was there, smoke was there, flavor was there.
                                                                                                                      Too salty...

                                                                                                                      Pictures: the 4 pieces after the cure and rinse / after smoking 2 hours / after steaming 2 hours / sliced for salty dinner

                                                                                                                      1. re: porker

                                                                                                                        Finally received the Readycure, and now am gonna find a brisket. Gonna try BGEMatt's per pound recipe, seems like the easiest way to go. Biggest thing for me now is to plan accordingly, as this project seems pretty time sensitive as per Porkers over curing experience. Ill report back.

                                                                                                                        Wish me luck!!

                                                                                                                        1. re: sbmfj

                                                                                                                          I'm guessing the bigger the meat, the less sensitive it is (sounds strange when put like that

                                                                                                                          You don't need luck, you'll do great!

                                                                                                                          1. re: porker

                                                                                                                            I agree. Even using a "small" brisket, you've still got a good 6+ lbs of meat on the table, all of which means you've got a degree of leeway when it comes to the curing process. Given the thickness of the meat and the number of days it needs to cure in any event, I imagine that a day or two over won't make a difference.

                                                                                                                            To add to what Porker said, it's fundamentally a very simple recipe. After you finish the first time, you'll realize how easy it is and do it over and over again.

                                                                                                                        2. re: porker

                                                                                                                          porker, I'm following your recipe for a nearly 6lb flat...good amount of fat. used a fraction of the dry cure, enough to cover both sides, flipping twice daily...thinking since its smaller...it'll take less time to cure...so 7 days of curing?

                                                                                                                      2. I stumbled on this thread while making a few batches of smoked meat a few weeks ago. Since I had a bag of Readycure from previous bacon/pancetta cures, I figured I might as well just use the Readycure brining instructions. The process I used came roughly from here: http://www.mrbbq.ca/2010/01/smoked-me...

                                                                                                                        Other than the nitrate content (which I adhered to for health reasons), I generally used more spices than suggested. I smoked it with indirect heat on my gas grill, and ended up with a fantastic brisket. My only complaint was that it was a bit too salty on it's own (I re-added too much salt to the dry rub stage...my mistake), but otherwise great in a sandwich.

                                                                                                                        This attempt involved cheap ingredients - brisket on sale from my local No Frills, wood chips from Home Depot, etc., so I'm pretty excited to see what would come of using higher quality stuff. I'm glad to see these home cures getting more popular. This was so much fun, and so satisfying to see the final product!

                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: Underdog Rally

                                                                                                                          So, Ive tracked down my brisket, and I may start tonight, or next Tuesday. I have figured that I must start on a Tuesday in order to have the meat ready for the following Saturday (12 days later). That being said, Matt, did you use indirect or direct heat on your BGE?

                                                                                                                          I'm quite excited for all of this to materialize....

                                                                                                                          1. re: sbmfj

                                                                                                                            Indirect, but frankly, when you're in the 225-250 range, I wonder how much of a difference it really really makes.

                                                                                                                            1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                              Hey Matt,

                                                                                                                              Saw your post on the BGE forum, and I noticed that the recipe you posted had half the amount of cracked pepper (1/2 pound) when compared to Porker's recipe (1 pound).

                                                                                                                              any reason for this? Making mine this week.


                                                                                                                        2. What a great thread!

                                                                                                                          While I no longer have the patience to compose essays about deli, here are a few thoughts:

                                                                                                                          - Consistency is hard - every brisket is different
                                                                                                                          - Proper slicing is critical - the grain changes direction
                                                                                                                          - It is easy to identify wet and dry cures once you know the end result of each
                                                                                                                          - Injection itself is okay - it's just brining - the issue is WHAT you inject
                                                                                                                          - There is no single way to do this - it's "art" and requires experimentation and practice
                                                                                                                          - Schwartz appears to dry cure and does not use wood in their "smoking" process (over gas)
                                                                                                                          - I do not post about Caplansky's, but will say that methods are different from when he began
                                                                                                                          - You MUST add moisture at some point - not necessarily as steam, though
                                                                                                                          - You need moist heat at serving time
                                                                                                                          - You can nuke slices successfully if you are careful (wrapped in a wet towel for 20 seconds +/-)
                                                                                                                          - The eGullet pastrami thread is great - you will see the development of Kenny & Zuke's deli within it
                                                                                                                          - A slow temperature rise is important to avoid drying out the meat, but some briskets are just dry
                                                                                                                          - You will achieve succulence at somewhere between 175-195 for a couple of hours - again, every brisket is different
                                                                                                                          - Never go near the boiling point
                                                                                                                          - Unless you are intending Texas-style BBQ with cured flavours, you don't need too much smoke - a few hours is enough
                                                                                                                          - Size and thickness are VERY important
                                                                                                                          - Fat is EXTREMELY important - a "well trimmed" brisket will be horribly dry
                                                                                                                          - It takes practice to estimate curing times at all well
                                                                                                                          - I dry cure and call mine "pastrami" (since it does not resemble MSM). However, I use brisket and not plate (used for "real" NY pastrami, which mine does not resemble either)
                                                                                                                          - Curing time is anywhere from 10 days to 4 weeks, depending on thickness and other proportions.
                                                                                                                          - I haven't had an uneven cure in decades
                                                                                                                          - I use a "Jaccard" to ensure even curing. This does not change the meat's texture or "tenderize" it
                                                                                                                          - I use Morton's TenderQuick for dry curing
                                                                                                                          - I use coriander seed, mustard seed, black pepper, fresh garlic, bay leaf, and brown sugar as a curing base (and sometimes add other stuff) - no salt
                                                                                                                          - I soak and rinse the cured meat until the water runs clear
                                                                                                                          - I dry the cured meat completely before smoking it
                                                                                                                          - I use coriander seed, mustard seed, black pepper, coriander powder, fresh garlic, brown sugar, Aleppo pepper, & paprika as my base rub (and sometimes use other stuff)
                                                                                                                          - I hold the rubbed meat for a day
                                                                                                                          - I smoke for about 4 hours on average (proportion dependent)
                                                                                                                          - I use oak chips and unsprayed cedar shavings ("hamster litter" at per supply shops)
                                                                                                                          - I finish by sous vide, with a slow rise to 185 (average) over several hours (time/temp proportion dependent)
                                                                                                                          - Results can range from etherial, succulent slices with melting fat (most of the time) to unpleasantly dry

                                                                                                                          33 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: embee

                                                                                                                            Nice running commentary.

                                                                                                                            I remember reading the Great Smoked Meat and Pastrami Experiment by Chef Fowke on eGullet a couple of years ago. I read it at leisure over a few days and was fascinated.

                                                                                                                            And, a few questions (and comments) if I may be so bold...

                                                                                                                            You mention Schwartz does not use wood, does this mean they simply "bake" with gas?

                                                                                                                            Caplanskly's seems to be a sensitive subject?

                                                                                                                            My wife maintains that size and thickness are NOT very important.

                                                                                                                            I never considered smoking (brisket or otherwise) with cedar. Would you use strictly a mix (cedar *and* oak, or hickory, or something else), or have you used cedar alone? What kind of characteristics does it offer?

                                                                                                                            1. re: porker

                                                                                                                              - I haven't been to Schwartz in a very long time. My most recent understanding is that the smoke comes from the fat and juices dripping over gas flames.

                                                                                                                              - Size and thickness are among the most important characteristics for determining curing time and cooking time. The evenness of the brisket, the overall shape, and the meat grain also enter into the "art". A thick piece of meat needs a much longer dry cure than a thin one. When a piece of meat is 3/4" at one end and 3.5" at the other, you need to use some tricks - or cut the slab into two pieces :-)

                                                                                                                              The taste of cedar is subtle but quite evident nonetheless. Think salmon cooked on a cedar slab.

                                                                                                                              Think of the wood as just another seasoning agent. You can try anything, alone or in combination. I have tried many. If it tastes good to you, it's okay. To my palate, cedar alone isn't enough. Oak and maple are fine. Hickory is wonderful, but wrong for this recipe. Mesquite is horrible.

                                                                                                                              1. re: embee

                                                                                                                                Pastrami King used to smoke with cedar sawdust. I don't know if anyone else does this anymore?

                                                                                                                                Here's one description from way back...

                                                                                                                                ""For 32 years, Pastrami King, an unprepossessing place with Formica tabletops, has been making what some devotees consider the best pastrami in New York City. Its alchemy takes 10 to 16 days. Meat from the beef neck and shoulder is soaked in brine for 3 to 5 days, then spread with a thick paste of half-cracked black peppercorns and fresh garlic and cured for another 3 to 5 days. Then it is spiced with yet more peppercorns and garlic and again cured for 3 to 5 days. Finally it is smoked over cedar sawdust for 4 to 6 hours. Once steamed, it is ready to eat. The pastrami is moist yet firm, flavorful and addictive. Eat one slice. Eat two. Gluttony lurks nearby. ($5.95 a sandwich) "

                                                                                                                                1. re: arifree

                                                                                                                                  Cedar...really? I have never heard of using conifer wood to smoke meat.

                                                                                                                                  I could believe alder, but cedar?

                                                                                                                                  I have learned something!


                                                                                                                                  1. re: Monch

                                                                                                                                    It sounds strange but that is what embee was doing and I wonder if he came up with it himself or from an older tradition

                                                                                                                                    It is also documented for this deli's pastrami (from 1986):

                                                                                                                                  2. re: arifree

                                                                                                                                    This from website "amazing ribs" or somesuch
                                                                                                                                    Bad wood. Whatever you do, never use wood from conifers such as pine, fir, cyprus, spruce, redwood, or cedar. They contain too much sap and turpenes, and they can make the meat taste funny. Some have been known to make people sick. Yes, I know that cedar planks are popular for cooking salmon on, but I don't know anyone who burns cedar as a smoke wood. I have also heard that elm, eucalyptus, sassafras, and sycamore impart a bad flavor. Oleander smoke is poisonous, and I am told laurel is too.

                                                                                                                                    I never tried cedar smoking because I thought along these lines...

                                                                                                                                    1. re: porker

                                                                                                                                      I regularly use cedar planks with salmon - and deliberately allow the planks to smoke, but not heavily. The flavor it imparts on salmon is fantastic. However, I also question what it would do to meats if used as a smoking medium.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: EricBGE

                                                                                                                                        That pretty much ratifies, from two solid sources, my understanding.

                                                                                                                                        Thanks guys.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Monch

                                                                                                                                          Yeah, if you've ever burnt any kind of conifer (camping), or what not that smoke is nasty and harsh. Heck, back when I was young and dumb, instead of old and dumb as I am now, we used to roll pine needles and smoke them thinking we were cool dudes. Horrible, horrible, horrible.

                                                                                                                                          That being said. sawdust may be ok as it's completely dried out so you're not getting any sap burning.

                                                                                                                                          It could also be disinformation to throw off the competition :P

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Zalbar

                                                                                                                                            Speaking of young and dumb AND smoke...
                                                                                                                                            I was maybe 13, hunting duck with my younger nephew. We shot a couple of brownbirds (wren I think) and proceeded to clean them (we eat what we shoot).
                                                                                                                                            We were on train tracks in the middle of a big swamp, so decided to make a fire right there on the tracks to cook the tiny birds. The only wood we found was splintered railroad ties.
                                                                                                                                            We learned a valuable lesson: chemical treated lumber does NOT make for good cooking.
                                                                                                                                            I'm paraphrasing here, "Horrible, horrible, horrible." Actually inedible...

                                                                                                                                            1. re: porker

                                                                                                                                              Mmmmmm....creosote as a flavoring agent.

                                                                                                                                              Them's good eats!

                                                                                                                                        2. re: porker

                                                                                                                                          People grill salmon on cedar planks for the smoke all the time and if it made people sick or tasted funny, I don't think it would be very popular...

                                                                                                                                          The 'romanian pastrami' that I remember (and I'm not that old!) was very different than what I see today. Very garlicy -like a garlic sour pickle- and yet I see so many pastrami recipes with either no garlic or at most, granulated garlic.

                                                                                                                                          I like the technique of layering with freshly crushed garlic and peppercorns every few days to keep the flavor up.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: arifree

                                                                                                                                            "People grill salmon on cedar planks for the smoke all the time and if it made people sick or tasted funny, I don't think it would be very popular"

                                                                                                                                            Grilling on cedar and BBQing with cedar are very different.
                                                                                                                                            Using cedar on the grill simply perfumes the meat or fish.
                                                                                                                                            BBQ uses smoke as part of the cooking process over long periods of time.
                                                                                                                                            Flavor is different with different wood and some woods are not used.

                                                                                                                                  3. re: embee

                                                                                                                                    Embee! The local smoke meat guru! Was wondering how to get you to chime in!

                                                                                                                                    Just finished smoking my 7 pound wet-cure batch. Needs to steam and become more tender tomorrow, but the wife thinks the wet cure version is better than the dry- and after only 4 days of wet curing.

                                                                                                                                    This particular brisket was on the thicker side and with a shorter smoke/bake time, I'm a little worried about unrendered fat in the very middle, but I suspect a good steaming will cover up any minor mistakes.

                                                                                                                                    While there's nothing quite like the taste of maple smoke-infused fat (beefy bacon... drool), embee's point is very well taken- I'm finding the maple a little overpowering this time around. Not so pungent that you want to stop eating it, but pungent enough that you sort of need to after a while. Next time I'm going to do a half and half of maple and a more neutral wood like ash.

                                                                                                                                    Also intrigued about the rub. Can't imagine a bit of mustard seed and brown sugar would do anything but help.

                                                                                                                                    With respect to Caplansky's, it might be because the merits of the restaurant aside, Zane makes an easy target, especially with a product that's difficult to produce in volume. Especially for some holier-than-thou restaurant critics from the Toronto Star (who aren't Amy Pataki, who I like very much).

                                                                                                                                    And dude, I hate to say it: size and thickness is usually important- at least a little!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                                      Wet curing is both faster and more forgiving than dry. You can inject your brine into thicker parts of the meat to compensate for the thickness and keep the curing time relatively constant. I prefer mine dry cured.

                                                                                                                                      I can live with barrel cured, or even injected, and am quite happy with wet cured corned beef. I find the weird textures and tastes of many commercially injected products unpalatable when fresh and hot (and inedible when cold).

                                                                                                                                      A few hours in the gelatinizing temperature range may fix the unrendered fat issue (I'm assuming the meat is fully cured).

                                                                                                                                      1. re: embee

                                                                                                                                        Wet versus dry: is the difference taste, texture or both?

                                                                                                                                        And my house now stinks of overpowering maple smoke. I really think dialing down on that particular kind of wood is a good idea.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                                              It's easier to see, slice, and taste than to describe.

                                                                                                                                              1. Get a slab of smoked meat from Schwartz, from Dunn's, and from Lester's

                                                                                                                                              2. Look over each slab. Look at the form of the meat. Pay particular attention to the cut edges. What do you see? Does it have obvious needle marks? Does anything appear "unnatural" How does it feel? Look carefully at the grain - how does the grain differ among the three slabs?

                                                                                                                                              3. Cut a slice from each slab while cold. Was it easy to slice? Not so easy? Really difficult?

                                                                                                                                              4. Taste each slice. What do you taste? Do you sense any unusual undertones? How easy is each slice to chew? Does it resemble your own experience with meat? Is it unnaturally soft? Is it rubbery? Stringy?

                                                                                                                                              5. Warm each slab, cut a warm slice from each, and repeat the previous steps.

                                                                                                                                              The Schwartz is a dry cure; Dunns implies a dry cure, but what do you see that suggests it isn't a dry cure (or, perhaps, is not solely a dry cure); Lester's is a pumped cure with additives (I call this "denatured meat")

                                                                                                                                              Please post your findings.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: embee

                                                                                                                                                Ha! You're more of a smoke meat guru than a smoke meat expert: "these are the questions you must ask, my child, in order to achieve enlightenment.... there are no shortcuts to enlightenment".

                                                                                                                                                Which is fair enough, though it's gonna take some time. Can't just waltz to the corner of Jones and Danforth and casually pick up the three full slabs. She Who Must Be Obeyed is going into Montreal in October- she can lug the meat back with her.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                                                  Okay, moving to Jones and Danforth: you may achieve the enlightenment you seek by looking at pastramis in addition to MSM

                                                                                                                                                  Goldin's MSM is a dry cure (available as a slab at Free Times Cafe on College)

                                                                                                                                                  The Dunn's MSM I referred to is sometimes sold at Costco (jayt90 can advise re: availability) - the "Dunn's Famous Delis" around Toronto are not suitable - avoid them

                                                                                                                                                  Steele's Deli has a decent brine cured pastrami

                                                                                                                                                  Wolfie's on Wilson has the best tasting example of "denatured meat" - get the old fashioned MSM (also available at Centre St Deli, but I feel Wolfie's version tastes better)

                                                                                                                                                2. re: embee

                                                                                                                                                  Was a good weekend. Friend of mine unfroze a Schwartz's brisket she had in her freezer, steamed it and served it. I salvaged between 1/2-1 lb from the flat ends of my failed wet-brine brisket, which I ended up not steaming and using instead for hash (it was delicious). I'll call this my "denatured" meat.

                                                                                                                                                  The sight and cut differences between the two were obvious. The Schwartz's meat was much more relaxed than my wet-cured meat and was visually much more tender. I suspect the S's was either oversteamed or steamed at too hot a temperature, since it was almost literally falling apart. Grab a couple of spoons and you could've pulled it while hot. My brisket was firm and solid- a knife was certainly required and while cold, a bit of muscle to boot.

                                                                                                                                                  Taste wise becomes difficult because I suspect freezing and over-steaming did an injustice to the S's brisket. The S's brisket was very very tender, with most of the connective tissue between the meat having a (very) tenuous grip on the muscle fibers. The meat itself tasted a little sour and the texture was mushy- unnaturally soft. The speck on top was strictly visual and didn't appear to add any spiciness to the meat. There was an complete absence of "smokiness" to the brisket, as they don't smoke the meat over wood. Much less fat in the brisket than I would've otherwise expected. Because of the mushy texture and lack of smoke flavour, I didn't eat much of this met. I picked at it. Unsatisfying, though in fairness, I've always been more of a fan of SMP, which I believe uses maple smoke in their meat.

                                                                                                                                                  My meat was tougher which didn't surprise me, since it was from the flat end and didn't steam. Texture-wise, you could call what I made smoked meat but not Montreal smoke meat- it was like something you would otherwise get at the grocery store. The connective tissue between the fibers was very strong and eating the meat required some bite- it was a little rubbery. The taste, however, was excellent with evident maple smoke flavour. Pieces of rendered fat in the hash tasted like good bacon. I made too much for just the morning and found myself picking at the meat all day. The smoke was a little strong and had I not screwed up the process in the first place and been able to steam it into proper smoked meat, , I would've rather gone a little easier on the maple- dialed it back a bit.

                                                                                                                                                  Not a fair comparison, taking an over-steamed piece of Schwartz's on one hand, and the scraps of non-reject meat on the other, but I get an idea where you're coming from. I'll do another comparison when my dry-cure comes out this weekend.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                                          "Size and thickness are among the most important characteristics.....the overall all shape.....enter into the "art". "

                                                                                                                                          Well to quote Mrs Porker, "Its HOW you use it which is most important"

                                                                                                                                          "A thick piece....of meat is 3/4" at one end and 3.5" at the other, you need to use some tricks .... :-)"
                                                                                                                                          I won't even quote her on this one.


                                                                                                                                          1. re: porker

                                                                                                                                            So her how? Nu? Spill it.... How is it you should use it?

                                                                                                                                            (I never did get a good smoked meat in Côte St Luc)

                                                                                                                                            1. re: embee

                                                                                                                                              you might be mixing me up with sbmjf

                                                                                                                                              1. re: porker

                                                                                                                                                this may get lost up there...

                                                                                                                                                porker, I'm following your recipe for a nearly 6lb flat...good amount of fat. used a fraction of the dry cure, enough to cover both sides, flipping twice daily...thinking since its smaller...it'll take less time to cure...so 7 days of curing?

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                                                    thanks, this throws my timetable off...need it for Saturday night....aaarrggh

                                                                                                                                                1. re: porker

                                                                                                                                                  Okay - so Mrs Porker then :-)

                                                                                                                                                  "Its HOW you use it which is most important" So how, already?

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: embee

                                                                                                                                                    Have you ever been to Bakersfield?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: porker

                                                                                                                                                      Bakersfield is not meaningful

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: embee

                                                                                                                                                        Thats the whole point.
                                                                                                                                                        Its hinting at the vernacular ....size isn't important...its how you use your "meat"...how your "meat" might look if it was 3/4" at one end and 3.5" at the other...thickness of your "meat" etc etc etc

                                                                                                                                        2. Arrrrrrgh! I hereby formally apologize to every any joint's whose meat I ever looked down on or pooh-poohed in my youthful arrogance.

                                                                                                                                          It is my new position that smoke meat is a wanton slut that you may get on a good day but are just as likely to get on an off day, when she just wants to be left alone to wear her pink fuzzy slippers and take a bath.

                                                                                                                                          So I wet-cured the damn brisket and steamed it today. Everything seemed fine- until I cut into it. The first issue was my own damn fault, which I'm okay with. The fat end of my double brisket was a good 3 1/2 - 4" high. Right in the middle of the thickest part of the meat was a segment of uncured meat about the size of a roll of toonies. Fine, that's my mistake and I get that- now I know to use an injector to make sure he thick parts get cured.

                                                                                                                                          What killed me though was that when I cut into the meat, it was super-fatty. Ultra-fatty. In places, there was more fat than meat. Now listen, I love me my fatty cuts, but this was so fat as to be inedible (though the meaty parts were unbearably delicious). The worst part though was that there was no indication of how fatty (or not) the meat inside was. This brisket was wildly different from the one I smoked only a couple weeks ago. No consistency.

                                                                                                                                          And here's the kicker and the reason for the apology: this product is fundamentally ridiculous. It's not like it's a smaller cut of meat where if one piece is bad you can throw it out- if it's bad, the entire thing is bad and it gets inspected. Moreover, there's bloody little consistency between batches so it's very very difficult to get the same thing over and over again, notwithstanding the awesomeness of one's method. And the worst part: everyone has an opinion on the subject. Asshole food writers who pooh-pooh and insist on old-school classic deli methods, which is expensive and time consuming, otherwise it's "inauthentic" and never mind how it tastes. If any of these guys knew what it took to make a little smoke meat sandwich, they'd either be more forgiving of inconsistencies or would pay a lot more per sandwich.

                                                                                                                                          So I threw out the better part of my 7 lb wet-cured brisket today. The only saving grace was that what was left was absolutely delicious (though easier on the maple next time).

                                                                                                                                          Sigh. Back to the drawing board.

                                                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                                            that sucks...wondering if it'll turn out like crap if I rinse monday night...put the old fashioned(spek) on monday night...smoke it on tuesday, and then wait a few days..till saturday to steam it

                                                                                                                                            1. re: ribby

                                                                                                                                              Your post wouldn't have got lost up there!
                                                                                                                                              I think your game plan sounds good; extra time in the fridge after smoking and before steaming shouldn't hurt.
                                                                                                                                              Just a suggestion, write down all the details. It really helps a month down the road when trying to figure what really worked and what could use improvement.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: porker

                                                                                                                                                thanks brother...I got a thread on a forum I belong to...detailing my exploits

                                                                                                                                                heading up to CSL the beginning of September, my smoked meat should be fresh in my mind...to test against Schwartz's

                                                                                                                                                1. re: porker

                                                                                                                                                  oh and...


                                                                                                                                                  gallon bag full o spices

                                                                                                                                                  and dry rubbed.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                                                You can fix the uneven curing and tinker with cooking times, but I ain't seen any way to fix the cow....

                                                                                                                                                1. re: embee

                                                                                                                                                  Stupid cow.

                                                                                                                                                  It really struck me last night how awful and risky making smoke meat really is, never mind running a smoke meat restaurant. You can do everything exactly right and still, in one fell swoop, waste fifty dollars of meat. And everyone, everyone, everyone's an expert and a purist and a critic.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                                                    I've tried to get around it by cutting the brisket into smaller chunks - more surface for faster curing, more penetration, etc. It's still delicious, but you lose some of the contrast between the spiced edge and the moist core. It works for a home cook (particularly when it comes to finding storage space in the fridge), but I can't imagine trying to mass produce these... even different chunks in the same cure come out tasting differently.

                                                                                                                                              3. Gents:

                                                                                                                                                How much can you safely "over-cure" a dry-cure brisket and get away with it?

                                                                                                                                                I've got a 10 pound brisket which "finished" curing last night, however, I'd like to keep it in the fridge until Thursday and serve it this weekend. I suspect an extra 4 days should be okay but before I ruin another $40 of meat, I'd appreciate a second opinion.

                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                                                  I have done the same thing with mine. I rinsed it late last week and let it achieve a peckle for 3 days. Today I planned to spice and smoke it, but a tree fell in my backyard, and I`ll have to take it to my brother`s house tomorrow.
                                                                                                                                                  From Manny`s posts, I don`t think any harm will be done by extra time with no extra salt. The meat is protected by salt and nitrites, but there may be slightly more liquid dripping from it, at least, that `s what I`ve observed so far.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                                                    Overcuring can dry it out, but I don't think four days will make a big difference. If you rinse it thoroughly, let it dry, and add your rub (with no salt!) before storing it, you will increase flavour intensity somewhat.

                                                                                                                                                    I'll address your other post in a few days - no time now.

                                                                                                                                                  2. Hey Matt,

                                                                                                                                                    Saw your post on the BGE forum, and I noticed that the recipe you posted had half the amount of cracked pepper (1/2 pound) when compared to Porker's recipe (1 pound).

                                                                                                                                                    any reason for this? Making mine this week.


                                                                                                                                                    second post, first one got lost in here somewhere....

                                                                                                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sbmfj

                                                                                                                                                      For the cure? Because Porker's initial cure quantities were for two briskets and I was just making one.

                                                                                                                                                      Somewhere up in this thread, I figured out the per-pound quantities of all of the cure ingredients. Rather than go through the patchekerai of making my cure to order, one of these days I'm just going to pre-mix pounds and pounds of the stuff, store it and then deploy it on an as-needed basis.

                                                                                                                                                      I'm intrigued, though, to play around with the cure a little, per embee's suggestion. Wondering how much lovelier it might get with a bit of paprika, brown sugar, garlic powder and ground mustard...

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                                                        Hmm..I guess I mis read it - The Bay leaf and clove amounts seemed to be the same. anyhow, used your per pound recipe, getting the brisket today, curing starts tomorrow. Im very excited. Ive taken pics and will document once complete.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sbmfj

                                                                                                                                                          No, I think the issue was mine- I mucked it up but good the first time I was jiggering with it. I believe I got it right when I did the per-pound measurements for the cure.

                                                                                                                                                          Good luck! I'm sure it's going to be great! Only other tips: go easy on the maple smoke and on the steam. Easy and gentle does it!

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                                                            Today was smoking day...about 4+ hours using royal oak lump and sugar maple...

                                                                                                                                                            had to test it out...steaming will make it that much better...was worried that the cloves would be too powerful as they are the most powerful ingredient in the cure...but it's spot on. holy hell...porker, you the man.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ribby

                                                                                                                                                              Nice pics!
                                                                                                                                                              I find the cure ingredients gives nuance to the final product, but the heavy lifters are the final rub (pepper/coriander) and smoke.
                                                                                                                                                              I agree with BGM that oversmoking can be overwhelming (I find this for everything - brisket, chicken, even burgers if the lid is closed on the grill too long) For me, smoking should be a light touch.
                                                                                                                                                              I usually smoke a brisket about 3 to 4 hours then wrap in foil. This will keep it from oversmoking and helps keep moisture in. I then have the option of continuing in the smoker with only charcoal (no smoke) or in the oven. Either way, low and slow for tenderness. I also use this trick with ribs.

                                                                                                                                                              Hope to see pictures of the final product!

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: porker

                                                                                                                                                                Bought my brisket yesterday, made my cure mix on Monday night, and will apply it tonight, and commence the 9 day curing process. Very excited about all of this, and Ribby success is good news too! Cant wait to eat this!!!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sbmfj

                                                                                                                                                                  Just applied the first rub. That per pound recipe seemed to yield allot of rub, used about 1/2 to 2/3 of it. Really rubbed it in, hope I didnt screw it up. Presently its in the fridge, weighed down with a sac of spuds. Let me know if it looks off, or if I should have used all the rub. I would have had to literally pile it on, then wrap it up with plastic wrap. The way I did it was a very generous coat, and then sprinkled more on top, rub it in, little more sprinkled, then wrapped it up.


                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sbmfj

                                                                                                                                                                    looks about right...but I just used a 2.5 gallon zip top bag

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sbmfj

                                                                                                                                                                      Your brisket looks good.
                                                                                                                                                                      Yeah, its hard to make the larger pieces of peppercorn and coriander stick. I rub it on as much as I can, then put a thin layer of the rub onto laid-out plastic wrap (3 overlapping sheets). The brisket goes onto this layer then I add a thin layer onto the top of the brisket and wrap up the works tight. Some will always fall off, but you get a good coating.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: porker

                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks for the vote of confidence!! Flipped it this am, no juice seeped out, but you could see some juice through the plastic on the underside. Experimented with colelsaw this weekend, and made a pretty good batch. Will repeat for my Smoked Meat Party. I almost feel like attempting rye bread, but probably wont bother. Snowdon Bakery has some nice ones, and that kimmel rye aint bad either.

                                                                                                                                                      2. The more briskets I make, the more I'm finding that the margins of error are much smaller than I would've otherwise thought.

                                                                                                                                                        Finished up my nine-and-a-half pound dry rub yesterday, having let it cure for an extra 3 days more than I should have. Came out delicious but tough and never got a proper MSM texture. Interestingly, the maple chunk I put on didn't actually catch and it strictly "smoked" on the lump charoal. When I pulled it off, it tasted exactly like Schwartz's meat, which is a shame, since I like a snooker product.

                                                                                                                                                        More and more I'm appreciating how difficult it is to make this on a reliable, consistent basis. Anyone who bitches about Caplansky's inconsistencies needs to try making it themselves.


                                                                                                                                                        13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                                                          Well the flavor was great...and the 9 guys i had hanging out devoured it in about 6 minutes...but I think the extra few days in the fridge killed the texture...next time I steam a lot longer...any better way to steam?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ribby

                                                                                                                                                            Sounds like you had the same problem that I had, ribby: overcure. My conclusion after five briskets and getting only one really right: briskets know that we exist. They hate us. And they'll do anything possible to make our efforts fail.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                                                              lol, good thing I'm heading up to CSL in a couple weeks...and Schwartz's has a seat with my name on it.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ribby

                                                                                                                                                                any reason you tried curing for an extra 3 days Matt? Just experimenting?

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sbmfj

                                                                                                                                                                  Hey all,

                                                                                                                                                                  Gonna smoke the brisket this weekend, should I test for an internal temp of 185ish, or simply wrap in foil, smoke for 3.5hrs at 225-250ish (should i be closer to 225 or 250), and then wrap in foil and cook for another 5hrs? Last thing I want to do is to under cook the brisket. Brisket I'm cooking is about 7.75 pounds.

                                                                                                                                                                  Edit - re read some of the posts, and the consensus on cooking temp seems to be 250, so Ill strive for that temp. Just let me know about internal temp. Merci

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sbmfj

                                                                                                                                                                    FWIW, I didn't cook to an internal temp- I just followed the times and it turned out great. That said, from what i recall, your times sound long. On my twelve pounder, i think i smoked for four and "baked" for five. Check the cooking times and remember that the cooking's not done yet: the steaming finishes the job.

                                                                                                                                                                    In a fit of irony, I've gone vegan for the month which means that now I'm learning to make seitan (which is great, btw) rather than briskets. What's even better is that when I started this kick, I was midway through the cure of my last brisket, so I didn't get to enjoy the (overcured) fruits of my labour. Just a taste to see how well I did- not even a proper sandwich. :)

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: biggreenmatt


                                                                                                                                                                      I read your posts, and you said you smoked for about 4hrs for a 6 pounder. 4 hours was enough? did you wrap it in foil at all, or was it the 4hrs on the smoked not wrapped in foil?


                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sbmfj

                                                                                                                                                                        Hello all,

                                                                                                                                                                        Made the smoked meat last Sunday (steaming). Overall great success. I did find that the brisket had more of a 'corn beef' taste compared to MSM, but still was very close, maybe my tastebuds were off that day too. Used leftovers on spaghetti, and that worked wonderfully. Would definetly repeat, but this time would go for a much larger brisket (6kg). I also thought that the uncooked brisket had a strong clove smell to it, and thought they might overpower some of the other flavors, but it turned out great.

                                                                                                                                                                        Here are a few picks. My home made steaming vessel worked very well; I used 2 aluminum turkey pans, and a cookie rack inbetween, all wrapped in foil and placed on a cookie sheet for stability,. then in the oven at 250 for 3 hours. At one point I needed the oven, so I placed the cookie sheet with the pans and all on 2 burners, and that also worked well; could here the water boiling.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: porker

                                                                                                                                                                            Thanks! And thank you for sharing the recipe Mr Porker!! Could never have done it with out you!

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sbmfj

                                                                                                                                                                              "Corned beef" and "Montreal smoked meat" are somewhat similar - both are brisket and both are cured.
                                                                                                                                                                              I feel corned beef is usually wet brined then boiled with seasonings. MSM is usually dry cured (although many are wet-cured as per the conversation above), seasoned heavily, smoked, then steamed.
                                                                                                                                                                              Perhaps you need a slightly more agresive seasoning or smoking to get more of a MSM taste over corned beef?
                                                                                                                                                                              By your comments, perhaps you were worried about the clove and eased up? Also, if you take a look at other pictures in the thread (most, not all), theres quite a crust of coriander/cracked pepper as the brisket comes outta the steamer. Maybe yours was a tad short?
                                                                                                                                                                              Again, this is where experimentation comes in. Try this or that next time (I dunno, more of this spice in the rub, or a longer/shorter smoke, lower temp in smoker, longer steam etc etc) and go from there. You'll zero in on YOUR tastes.
                                                                                                                                                                              If you're like me, you might forget your exact procedure/recipe from one brisket to the next. It helps me to write stuff down as I go. 3 months down the road, I check my notes and either change stuff, or keep what I liked.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: sbmfj

                                                                                                                                                                            Fine looking brisket! Welcome to the MSM club!

                                                                                                                                                                            How was the texture? Was it crumbly like good MSM is? Looks like you got a really lean brisket without much residual fat. But FWIW, I've found that even the lean and less-tender parts of the brisket are still awful good as hash.

                                                                                                                                                                            ps: love the nest.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                                                                              Texture was very nice. I found the brisket to be fairly well marbled, so even the leaner parts had a little fat in them. The picture of the brisket cut open, is a cold brisket leftover, as in the excitiment of everything, I forgot to take a pic when it was hot an steamy.

                                                                                                                                                                              I thought I had enough peppercorn/corriander mix on the outside of the brisket, maybe I didnt. Next time ill add a little more, and see if it makes a difference.

                                                                                                                                                                              As for the cloves, I used the amount suggested, didnt alter the recipe at all. I think ill try and make another one, maybe this winter. Maybe add more maple chunks (managed to get a nice piece of dry maple firewood, and cut off some chunks for the smoking)

                                                                                                                                                                              thanks again guys!!

                                                                                                                                                                              Oh and porker, I have followed your lead and documented it all in a notebook. I too will forget what happened in a few weeks, notes can always help!!

                                                                                                                                                          2. Porker, mate, I've just finished steaming what must be my sixth or seventh brisket since my original post went up back in July. Once again, the meat turned out shockingly, ridiculously, unbelievably good, succulent, smoky, pull-apart tender and meltingly, deliciously fatty, if not superior then certainly on par with the Montreal meat joints but *way* better than anything we've got here in Toronto. Even our jaded, Jewish Montreal houseguests we had this weekend were beside themselves with how good it was.

                                                                                                                                                            Mate, thanks again for the recipe. The only problem I have now is figuring out a way to not pick at it in the time between the time it finishes smoking and the time it comes out of the steamer.

                                                                                                                                                            63 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                                                              I'm just happy you enjoy so much!

                                                                                                                                                              I know the feeling - the brisket is laid out, the crowd is quivering in anticipation, and you're still in disbelief. Almost unbelieving 'cause Montreal Smoked Meat was a fabled treat, a mysterious beast, only to be enjoyed in the great delis of the world. To enjoy such a thing required a trek, a schlep, to the deli across town, or even to another city. And for what? plonk down $10 for a sandwich? Sure its good, even sublime, but there you have it, in a kind of singular experience.

                                                                                                                                                              Here, on the kitchen table, its different. Its kind of free (you quickly forgot the cost of the meat, the spice, the charcoal) and its plentiful. Sliced up, its almost obscene - kinda like that box of coke in the closing scenes of Scarface - and this makes you kind of giddy. Above it all is the feeling of accomplishment, that YOU made this, you transformed a tough hunk of meat to something sublime.

                                                                                                                                                              I get it.

                                                                                                                                                              You get it.

                                                                                                                                                              I am happy!

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                                                                Wow! What an amazing thread!

                                                                                                                                                                BGM, so this is your sixth or seventh brisket. And this has turned out fantastic. Are you able to narrow down what you did with this brisket and your first successful one that made them so good?

                                                                                                                                                                Was it that you lucked out on a good cut with a better fat distribution? Was it that you've got a better sense of the dry curing time (I gather that dry has been determined to be superior than wet?)
                                                                                                                                                                The right amount of smoke vs steam?

                                                                                                                                                                Thanks for sharing!

                                                                                                                                                                Also, FWIW, I recently cured a Berkshire ham (Cumbrae's) and smoked it on the BGE. At the time I was also trying to figure out where/how to get my hand on the nitrates necessary to cure. I ended up finding Pink Salt in Toronto. If I recall, I found this easier to work with, as the intire ham only needed a few ounces to cure. That way I could control my salt.

                                                                                                                                                                I found the Pink Salt at the William Sonoma on Bloor. It was a little pricey ($20?), but the little jar has enough to 2 half shank-end hams.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: JDJay

                                                                                                                                                                  Yeah, $20 is pricey. This would get you 5lbs of the stuff at The Sausagemaker - enough to cure 2000lb of meat.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: JDJay

                                                                                                                                                                    I agree especially when Readycure is sold cheaply by the pound.

                                                                                                                                                                    Not quite sure why I've been having a run of good luck, lately. It's dry cured, certainly, and I've tinkered with the cure in an effort to get a more Smoke Meat Pete-esque product (adding spices, changing the sugar to brown sugar and lots more of it, etc.), but I think it's just a matter of being more and more comfortable with working with a familiar thing.

                                                                                                                                                                    Oh, and after revisiting SMP last week, I'm going to change the speckle as well. Adding mustard seed and a bit of brown sugar, and grinding it fine. See what happens.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                                                                      Hey BGM, there might be a new smoked meat place for you to try when in this neck of the woods - Delibees. I learned of it here
                                                                                                                                                                      Seems this is where Smoked Meat Pete started out, but opened his own place after a family falling out. I ate here twice and the smoked meat is excellent.
                                                                                                                                                                      No live music, but Phil (I assume Pete's brother) plays the blues channel on satellite radio (I guess the blues run in the family).
                                                                                                                                                                      Its on an obscure street in Pointe Claire just north of highway 20.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: porker

                                                                                                                                                                        Shit. I was in Mtl 2 weekends ago.

                                                                                                                                                                        I'll put it on my list for when I'm next back in August.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                                                                          They're closed on Sunday (I learned the hard way...)
                                                                                                                                                                          Not a fancy place and small (which doesn't bother me in the least), and likely would be scoffed at by most people.
                                                                                                                                                                          However, for a fan such as yourself, I think it worthy of at least one pilgrimage.

                                                                                                                                                                          They also don't serve beer/wine/alcohol, but I'm told the brasserie next door has a pass-through window serving the food (same owners/same building). I have yet to test this, but will do so (likely before august and will let you know).

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: porker

                                                                                                                                                                            Been following this thread for a while and thinking of doing a full DIY Smoked Meat party at the end this month(I made the pickles already), mustard, coleslaw, rye, fries. Perhaps try to make some cherry coke as well.
                                                                                                                                                                            Porker: Has anything changed on the Pink Salt/Instacure/Ready cure situation in Montreal? Wondering if I should order online but then it will probably not get here in time.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: estilker

                                                                                                                                                                              I assume the Montreal situation is the same, but since I don't buy locally (I gave up trying years ago), I can't say for sure.
                                                                                                                                                                              I'll give you some if you want.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: porker

                                                                                                                                                                                That would be really appreciated porker! How do I get in touch with you?

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: estilker

                                                                                                                                                                                Readycure is widely available in the Loblaw Group larger stores, or Highland Farms in GTA. A kilo is around $4.00 so you could ask someone to mail it to you.
                                                                                                                                                                                Does Loblaw/Weston have any large stores in Montreal?

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jayt90

                                                                                                                                                                                  In Montreal, you can get instacure under the name Saumurage 64 from BSA in St-Leonard. http://www.bsa.ca/

                                                                                                                                                                                  BSA - Québec
                                                                                                                                                                                  6005 Boulevard Couture
                                                                                                                                                                                  Montréal, Québec, H1P 3E1
                                                                                                                                                                                  Phone: 514.852.2719
                                                                                                                                                                                  Fax: 514.852.6132

                                                                                                                                                                                  BSA - Ontario
                                                                                                                                                                                  5266 General Road, unit 18-19
                                                                                                                                                                                  Mississauga, Ontario, L4W 1Z7
                                                                                                                                                                                  Phone: 905.602.9639
                                                                                                                                                                                  Fax: 905.602.9654

                                                                                                                                                                                  I got a 1kg bag for under $5. Also got a bag of cure #2 for long aged sausages for the same price.

                                                                                                                                                                                  They operate on normal business hours and are not open on the weekend. Their sales counter is at the front of the first docking area before you get to the main entrance, so I'll save you a short walk or u-turn.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Street view: https://maps.google.ca/maps?q=bsa+mon...

                                                                                                                                                                                  Left into the docking area at that stop sign, and it's the door to the left of the closed garage door..

                                                                                                                                                                                  One note of caution, they do not color their stuff pink, it's plain white. Do not just rub this stuff on meat and use it as a cure. Use it as directed and exactly as you would "pink salt" in any recipes you may come across and keep this stuff away from everyone.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I make a big batch of basic cure when I get home, then park the rest of the "pink salt" package up high and at the back of a cupboard.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Also, if anyone needs a small quantity I'll be happy to pass along some (I live in the west island of Montreal) as I know what a pain it's been to acquire this stuff. I had literally been looking for instacure/pink salt/ etc for years before I finally hit gold.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Zalbar

                                                                                                                                                                                    Hi Porker, I have a 1 lb. bag of pickling spices purchased at a sausage supplies house in the US. Butcher and Packer. It contains mustard, coriander, dill, bay,pepper, red pepper,caraway, celery abd fennel. Do you think that would work?

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: carl333

                                                                                                                                                                                      In short, no.

                                                                                                                                                                                      IMO, MSM must be cured. To cure, you need sodium nitrate (Instacure #1 contains this and is simple to work with) which doesn't seem to be in in your mix. There may be sodium nitrate in the celery, but likely not enough to do the job.
                                                                                                                                                                                      In my recipe above, the cure contains
                                                                                                                                                                                      1lb peppercorn, ground
                                                                                                                                                                                      1.5lb coarse salt
                                                                                                                                                                                      1/4lb sugar
                                                                                                                                                                                      1/4lb coriander seed, ground
                                                                                                                                                                                      3TBL clove, ground
                                                                                                                                                                                      3TBL bay leaf powder
                                                                                                                                                                                      4TBL instacure

                                                                                                                                                                                      mustard, dill, red pepper, caraway, celery, and fennel do not fit the flavor profile.

                                                                                                                                                                                      You can rub a brisket with these pickling spices, but it won't cure (final pinkish color and cured 'tang' flavor) and it won't taste like MSM.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: porker

                                                                                                                                                                                        In fairness, I've seen pork belly cured in salt, sugar and ground celery seed which actually worked- still, it's easier to use straight nitrates than it is to muck around with celery. That said, I do agree- you might get a nice product out of the pickling spices, but it likely won't taste like MSM.

                                                                                                                                                                                        For people in the Toronto area looking for pink salt, instacure #1 & 2, you can find it at the YES Group, up at Woodbine and Steeles in Richmond Hill. Cheap and a great sausage stuff supplier, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Porker: I've mucked with the cure by substituting brown sugar for white (and adding a good 3/4 of a pound of it- I like a sweeter product), adding chili flakes and mustard seed. Adds more sweetness and a bit more depth, which makes sense, given that my goal is more Pete's than Schwartz's.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Keeping well? Any fun developments?

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: biggreenmatt

                                                                                                                                                                                          Just enjoying the summer. Building a modified caja china to bbq whole pigs/lambs. Waiting for autumn to re-start sausage making/curing.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Thats the thing about DIY: you can muck around to fine tune to get what you want. Smoked meat, though, (for me anyway) isn't just made every other week to easily play around with - lemme try adding paprika and tumeric this time around, only to find out, a $40 brisket and two weeks later, its NOT what you want...
                                                                                                                                                                                          but I'll try the brown sugar, mustard seed & chili flakes next time!

                                                                                                                                                                                          I was watching Dragon's Den on CBC a coupla weeks ago. There was a segment showing where the Dragons were "wrong", didn't invest, and the entrepreneur went ahead anyway and gained some success. Caplansky was on, pitching his food truck idea. All dragons passed, but he did it anyway. I said to myself, I wonder if biggreenmatt ate at one of his trucks.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Oh yeah, don't forget to try Deli Bees next time you're in the area
                                                                                                                                                                                          I see they snazzed up their website.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: porker

                                                                                                                                                                                            Porker, what is a caja china? I googled it and nothing came up.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: carl333

                                                                                                                                                                                              It's a pig smoking/cooking box. Coals on the bottom, Piggy in the middly, metal top filled with coals, all porky goodness.... man I can almost taste the crackling.


                                                                                                                                                                                              You can make one considerably less flashy and expensive. I

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: porker

                                                                                                                                                                                          Sorry Porker, I didn't detail my post sufficiently. What I was asking is if the pickling spice blend that I described would work. Of course I would use a cure, salt sugar etc... I bought a complete brisket yesterday, cut it in half and froze the point portion for another time. The flat just weighs 4 lbs. How much instacure, salt and sugar do you figure for this small amount of brisket? tks

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: carl333

                                                                                                                                                                                            First off, went to Delibee's. Great smoked meat, a little dry but very good. Still have to give the nod to Pete's though. It may also have been too much meat. They made it enormous, and actually weight it. It came in at 4.3 lbs. Maybe with more mustard it would have tasted better.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Now, on to the smoked meat!

                                                                                                                                                                                            Basic cure:

                                                                                                                                                                                            450g Kosher Salt
                                                                                                                                                                                            225g Sugar
                                                                                                                                                                                            50g Pink Salt

                                                                                                                                                                                            Mix and store in a sealed plastic bag and place in a covered container.

                                                                                                                                                                                            For your brisket if you're going with a dry rub, the standard ratio would be 50 grams per 2.25 kg of meat(22.23 grams per kilo) of the basic cure. You can also just dredge and shake off the excess.

                                                                                                                                                                                            If you're going for a brine then:

                                                                                                                                                                                            4l of water
                                                                                                                                                                                            350g kosher salt
                                                                                                                                                                                            225g sugar
                                                                                                                                                                                            42g pink salt
                                                                                                                                                                                            8g pickling spices
                                                                                                                                                                                            90g dark brown sugar
                                                                                                                                                                                            60ml honey
                                                                                                                                                                                            5 minced garlic cloves

                                                                                                                                                                                            Heat the water, dissolve the rest and chill. Submerge the meat in the brine and weigh it down so that it stays covered in the brine.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Remove after 3-5 days, coat in ground peppercorns, coriander and whatever else you want then smoke it.


                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Zalbar

                                                                                                                                                                                              I am curious about the use of pink salt here. We have all learned that it is hard to procure in Canada, unless you pay W-S prices, but here it is in a recipe, and it is equated with Instacure in a previous post. The Readycure directions are more conservative by about 12%. I'm not sure why pink salt should be included in a recipe here, unless accompanied by a conversion table.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: jayt90

                                                                                                                                                                                                Pink salt, instacure #1, saumurage 64, Prague powder #1 are all interchangeable. What I'm really referring to is a mixture of salt with 6.25% sodium nitrite. The reason people don't just use sodium nitrite on it's own is because of the very small quantities needed for curing meat, and in large quantities is toxic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                It's actually not all that hard to acquire, it's just hard to find because it's called so many different things. Here in Montreal I can get 1kg bags of the stuff for under $5.

                                                                                                                                                                                                In Toronto you can contact them at:

                                                                                                                                                                                                BSA - Ontario
                                                                                                                                                                                                5266 General Road, unit 18-19
                                                                                                                                                                                                Mississauga, Ontario, L4W 1Z7
                                                                                                                                                                                                Display the map

                                                                                                                                                                                                Phone: 905.602.9639
                                                                                                                                                                                                Fax: 905.602.9654

                                                                                                                                                                                                Though I find it easiest to just say you need the stuff for curing bacon. Saying instacure, or pink salt they were a bit confused up here, but once I explained what I wanted it was cake.. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Zalbar

                                                                                                                                                                                                you had a 4.3 lb. smoked meat sandwich at Delibee's? Are you kidding? typo, right?

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: carl333

                                                                                                                                                                                                  nope, not kidding. The other cook there had to turn on their scale and measure it he was so freaked. It was like they have a betting game where they guess the weight of sadwiches they make.


                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Zalbar

                                                                                                                                                                                                    They piled 4.3 lbs. of meat on 2 slices of rye? Is this a regular item menu or was it a special request? That's good for a family of 4or 6. I just looked at the menu. is that the Superbee? Superbee - Smoked meat & more smoked meat & more smoked meat on rye with mustard 15.95 That's ridicilious and cheap

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: carl333

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yeah, that would be $3.71/lb...... their Special 1 with one pound smoked meat/bread/pickles/salad is $15 ($17 if meat is hot...)

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: carl333

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I have no idea, had never been there before. I parked on the side and walked in. They were actually all out back, mebbe having a smoke or something. Anyways, ordered a jumbo smoked meat to go and I'm not sure what happened, guy got carried away, they wanted to finish off the brisket or something. I dunno. It was pretty damned good. Pete's has a deeper smoked flavour, but there were definite similarities. I'm ashamed that I used to think that Chenoy's was good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Zalbar

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm sure it was something like that. You just don't get 4 lbs of meat for that price

                                                                                                                                                                                                          That's ok Zalbar, once upon a time I thought Dunn's was great.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: carl333

                                                                                                                                                                                                            My first date with Mrs. porker was a movie (ghost busters) and dinner (Dunns, eating smoked meat and fries w/ gravy).


                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: porker

                                                                                                                                                                                                              lol, if she catches you calling her Mrs. Porker, I think we might hear of a new montreal smoked meat, and it won't be beef.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Glad to know I'm not the only old fart around here that's got an interest in cured meats.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Zalbar

                                                                                                                                                                                                                3 in the room right now. i just started getting into characterie. Did some easy italian hot sausage this weekend. My spanish chorizo inventory is running low. Bought some butt at Sam's Club at $1.64/lb. $1.40 or so if you buy a case. Espisito have brisket on special this week at $3.17 lb. bought a couple of complete ones. it soulds like a pretty good price but i have never bought it b4 so what do I know.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thinking about making a proscuitto on a small scale to try it out. Have either of you tried it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: carl333

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I always wanted to try proscuitto, but don't quite have the patience. I will give it a shot sometime.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I asked the old Italian guy who first showed me sausage (has since passed on) if he ever made proscuitto (he made lonza, cured sausage, wine, vinegar, jarred tomato sauce, etc etc). He said he USED to make it, but the quality and price of getting it at the store is better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I made lonza as well - a cured, dried pork loin in a stockinette. Came out very good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: porker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Picked up Ruhlman's Salumi as yet? I haven't been able to find a copy anywhere in montreal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    From what I've seen, prosciutto is more of a fire and forget type of deal. Like buckboard bacon, cover in salt and then haul out a year later sort of deal. Never made anything long term, but the peameal/cured pork loin I did was fantastic. Though I think they are right in brining that one. Mine came out a bit too stiff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I hear ya about the old man. I can get authentic prosciutto di parma here in Montreal, but now that I'm not a young'n full of piss and vinegar, learning the skills is more important to me than the end product.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My brother had a kid and I'll be damned if my nephew is going to grow up to be a packaged processed food junkie unable to cut and onion, or cook a meal for his girl/wife/family.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Besides, have you seen the prices grocers are charging for that water injected crap in plastic?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Zalbar

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I just ordered it from Amazon;

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Delivery estimate: Sept. 4, 2012 - Sept. 19, 2012
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 "Salumi: The Craft of Italian Dry Curing"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ruhlman, Michael; Hardcover;

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks for the heads up!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: carl333

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I've picked up the Ruhlman book and made the duck prosciutto a couple times this summer- it's simple, magnificent and only takes a week to dry. Hell, you don't even need the book- coat and cover a duck breast with kosher salt and whatever aromatics you like, refrigerate for a day, then rinse, pat dry, wrap in cheesecloth and hang in a cool place for a week. Deelish!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: porker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  fries with gravy. yaaaa!! Still looking for a decent tasting commercial gravy out there. Tried so many canned varities

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: carl333

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sausages huh? What kind of grinder do you have? I'm shopping around for one, fall is coming and I want to try my hand at some sausage making. No curing chamber as yet as I'm still working on the logistics for that one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    For gravy, I've never tasted a good commercial one, they're salt licks. I DO like the gravy at Station hot dog on Pierrefonds blvd, between St-Jean and St-Charles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Make your own instead. Easy peasy. Quick and dirty, toss roasted chicken carcass into a pot, add onion, carrot, celery, a sachet d'epices. Cover with cold water, and put into a 150-200 degree over overnight. Next day strain and skim. Reduce and season for sauce. tada!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Zalbar

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'd suggest an inexpensive hand-crank like this
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      with the various attachments (different size grinding discs, stuffers, etc).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Only thing, maybe have a dedicated table that you can bolt down to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I had 2 electrics (~$100 ea) like this

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      but broke each one on the first run - plastic gears and cold chinese steel don't like gristle.....
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'll get a more commercial grade grinder when I'm in the mood to spend about $500.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My curing "chamber" is my basement. My Italian friend used a room in his basement with a fan. He called it his "cantina".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: porker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        lol.... I actually have a porkert grinder that's been handed down for generations, but mine is made for grinding split peas for roti (another story for another day).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Wonder if I could get the dies for the grinder. Would be neat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        kinda like this:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: carl333

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Carl, I like Nestle's Trio, in a 1 lb package from the Costco spice aisle. I use it as a thickener with stock or pan drippings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. re: Zalbar

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "Pete's has a deeper smoked flavour"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't want to start any kind of debate (I'm tired of the Schwartz's/Main thing....its whatever you prefer for crissakes....), but the last time I ate at Delibees, I found the smokiness very strong.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Maybe the smokiness was subdued by too much time in the steamer? Maybe the guys outback were arguing if the brisket should be served as the smokiness was dinimished? Maybe I should get a life...?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: porker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Could be I personally prefer very strong flavours. I've eaten at Pete's quite a lot, only had that 1at Delibees. Being that the bee is on the way home to Pierrefonds from work out in St-Laurent I will likely be a regular there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Meh, if we weren't discussing cured and smoked meats then I'd actually have to do something work related. : )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: porker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Definitely something off with that brisket that the guy at D's prompted a 4 plus pounder.I bet you won't see anything close to that again. lol But do report back here and let us know. Don't forget the pic if your catch is big.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: carl333

                                                                                                                                                                                                            According to the instacure people, 1 level of instacure is sufficient to cure 5lbs of meat. I always found this rather vague because it doesn't take into account your curing method: are you curing a solid chunk (like brisket or ham), or ground meat (for sausage), are you wet brining (then it becomes a matter of concentration in liquid), or are you dry curing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            What works for me is the mix I listed above.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I use what I need (rub the brisket with plenty of cure) and store the rest. I get 2-3 briskets outta this batch, so it shouldn't be a problem if you quarter it for your small brisket.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm still not clear on what you want to do with the pickling spice. Do you want to use it PLUS add instacure, salt, and sugar? Do you want to use it PLUS the mix I describe above? Do you want to cure using the mix I describe, then smoke with the pickling spice rub?

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Either way, you'd get a flavored, cured brisket, but IMO it wouldn't be Montreal smoked meat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I like to use pickling spice when brining chicken or a component when wet curing ham.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: porker

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Porker, Thank you for your reply. Was 1 one level teaspoon or tablespoon?

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yes, I would like to try the pickling spice (just becuase i have it on hand)and add it to the cure, salt and sugar. i will try your mix on the next pass. Promise. What do you figure i would need in terms of qty. of kosher salt, sugar for a 4 pounder?

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I won't go through the smoke process on this one so wondering if I add the spice rub with the cure right from the beginning or cure 1st, then add the spice ruband finally the long and slow steam in the oven. tks

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: carl333

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I don't know the amount of pickling spice you have, but the amounts of salt/sugar/spice/etc don't have to be exact. The instacure is there to cure (along with the salt and sugar) and the rest is to impart subtle flavor. As a broad guideline, this is what I'd do:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                The basic cure for your 4 pounder:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1/4lb ('bout 100g) ground black pepper
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1/4lb coarse salt
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1/8 lb (bout 50g) sugar
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 level tablespoon instacure
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Mix well, and measure the volume of the entire mix then add the same amount of pickling spice (lets say you end up with 1 cup of pepper/salt/sugar/instacure, then add 1 cup pickling spice)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Place a few sheets of plastic wrap on the counter, place your brisket on this, spread half the mix on the brisket, rubbing it in. Flip brisket, rub in balance of cure mix).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Wrap in plastic wrap (use lots). Place on tray and weight down in fridge. Turn every day for 7-10 days (I'd cure a 13lb brisket for 12-14 days. A 4 pounder should be done in less).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Rinse off cure.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Let soak in cold sink water for 3 hours, changing the water every 1/2 hour. Pat dry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Now you gotta decide on the coating. You could use the pickling spice (with no instacure - you already cured the beast), or you could use an "old fashion" rub of coriander and black peppercorn as described up-post.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Rub with coating, wrap in saran, weight down, and fridge overnight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                OK, so you aren't smoking, but I wouldn't steam just yet as the smoking is a very important part of the cooking process. I'd worry about simply skipping this step.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                In place of smoking, I'd suggest "baking": remove saran wrap, wrap in foil, put on rack in a baking dish, and "bake" at 250F for 5 hours. (this low&slow will break down the brisket, making it tender)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Remove from oven, let cool, wrap in saran (the foil and all) and fridge overnight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Next day, remove from saran and foil and steam for 4-5 hours, slice, enjoy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                If you compare this play by play, its simply a close re-hash of whats posted above.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Is the recipe exact? No, it doesn't have to be. But this is where experimentation and personal tastes come in.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Are the cooking times exact? No, its an imperfect art.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Are all the steps required? IMO, yes, if you want a tender, cured brisket.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Lotsa work? Yes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Worth it? You have to be the judge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                One last thing; this thread is about making Montreal smoked meat. The process I just described will not give you this.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                It'll be a nicely cured brisket, however, with this different cure, and no smoking, it ain't MSM.