Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Smoking a whole short rib to make pastrami

Last week the brilliant Felicity Spector did a piece about us in The Telegraph, and got us talking about smoked meat. 

The ribs - it's one of the dishes we're most excited about on the new menu, carried out of our open kitchen and, just like the big signature sandwiches in Schwartz's in Montreal, hand-carved to order. 

We love brisket and we use it in other places in the restaurant but the pastrami short rib has a whole different level of juiciness. 

The dish is for sharing, and comes with freshly baked bread, and little mezze plates like whole roast cauliflower with tahini, whitefish croquettes, citrus kale and Iraqi blackened aubergine.

Because we grew up eating or got obsessed by Montreal delis, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem cooking, and dishes from California, we put as much of these flavours in the cure which includes a little fragrant Middle Eastern notes like cloves and ras-al hanout, as well as bay leaves and sugar, salt and pickling spices. 

Turner and George send us these amazing dry-aged ribs full of gamey, meaty flavour, and they take on a redness and flakiness from the curing and smoking process. 

We have been experimenting different approaches to curing, brining, flavouring the meat with different spices and cures, for a year and experimenting with different cuts and shapes. We cure the meat for 10-12 days before being slowly smoked over a mixture of apple, cherry and cedar woods for 12 hours, and rested before it is served.

In New York, and in London, with salt beef or pastrami, its wet-cured in a brine before being coated in black pepper and coriander. Then it gets smoked and steamed. 

But we do it the way they do it in Montreal, using a dry cure instead. Dry curing the meat gets the full flavour of the spices into the meat for much longer than you get with brining. It also gives the meat this delicious charred spiced crust like barbecue, you can break up and fold through the softer slices of meat for contrast. 

Sharpening those knives now, ready for service...

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