Okay, not really. But there were moments when I thought I was. I went completely out of my former vegetarian comfort zone and made pastrami, at home. Like the kind that takes a WEEK. I’m really an instant gratification girl, so having to wait a week for anything, never mind FOOD, takes a lot of patience from me. And in the case of full-disclosure, this was my second attempt at the pastrami. The recipe comes from the beautiful book Modern Israeli Cooking, by Danielle Oron. The first time I tried this, I underestimated the importance of using PINK curing salt. I just (wrongly) assumed that my pink himalayan salt would be a fine substitute. I mean, pink is pink, right? Oh no siree! After a week of brining, and a full day of cooking, all of which smelled divine, I was left with a gray piece of meat. Lance and I stood in silence as we decided it needed to be thrown away. It felt like deciding to put down a beloved family pet. “Goodbye little pastrami, we barely knew you….” *sniff sniff* So after some research, which is what the husband excels at, we determined that actual pink curing salt is crucial. We ordered it online and when it arrived, we both exclaimed “Now THAT is some pink salt!”
After about a month, I got the courage to try again. The brine that the meat soaks in makes your entire house smell like the Christmas holiday. It’s intense and wonderful. Then you wait 5-7 days. On the 7th day (this starts to feel like a religious experience), I got up before the sun and began prepping the pastrami….rinsing, drying, ignoring, cooking for 6-10 hours, ignoring some more, chilling. And then finally, tada! Time to eat. At which point I had to wait 2 more torturous hours for Lance to get home from work. I’ve never done so much anticipatory salivating in my life.
In the meantime, I figured I might as well go all out and bake some homemade rye bread. I’ve been dabbling in bread making over the past year or two and it’s become a less intimidating process. I finally picked this recipe after reading plenty of the reviews. I can’t recommend this bread enough. The recipe is super simple and the bread is amazing. Our three year old kept begging me for another piece. And Lance declared his love for it as well. Win win!
We kept it simple, just slapping the pastrami on the rye, adding mustard and calling it done. My take away thought is that it was entirely worth all of the effort and the wait. I’m highly anticipating the left overs for lunch today!
This epic creation needed an epic beer. So I went with Gnomegang, a Blonde Ale from Brewery Ommegang. The relatively high acohol content (9.5%) calls for a substantial meal such as this. I loved how the intense Belgian yeast flavor complimented the richness of the meat, but the bright bitter finish from the hops provided a nice refreshment. There’s also a sweetness (from the yeast) that helps mellow out the mustard on the sandwich. And come on now, that color is just perfection in a glass!