Monday, August 27, 2012
Homemade duck-breast pastrami. (Not quite enough to feed an army.)
I think that I shall never see
A product of charcuterie
That makes me thank my great good luck
More than a nice pastrami (duck).
I’ve been tinkering with various methods of food preservation for years now. Gravlax - cured salmon, Swedish-style - has been in my repertoire for years, and I have started hot-canning goodies like pickled asparagus, pickled okra, roasted peppers, brandied figs, and cherries in wine. But until recently, I never messed with preserved meats.
It was Leslie the Omnibabe who inspired me to try my hand at charcuterie - the art of preparing and preserving various meats. She had told me about a book that was being offered as a free Kindle edition: The Deli Maven’s Cookbook, by David W.Cowles. It’s not an especially well-written book (it is, after all, self-published), but it does provide a good introduction to the world of delicatessens and appetizing stores (yes, there is a difference) and the foods available therein. But what got me salivating was the recipes, including several for various kinds of cured and smoked fish and meat.
One of those meats is pastrami, which is what corned beef hopes to be reincarnated as in its next life. It’s way more peppery and garlicky than corned beef... and way more flavorful, to my way of thinking. Given the choice between corned beef and pastrami, I’ll take the pastrami every time. Steamed until tender, sliced thin, and served hot on Jewish-style rye bread with coarse-grained mustard, it makes the best deli sandwich ever. Shredded and added to scrambled eggs or an omelette, it is a superb breakfast. And pastrami hash can kick corned beef hash’s ass like a red-headed stepchild.
As good as beef pastrami is, though, duck breast pastrami is even better. Houston Steve and I had been served a few morsels as part of a charcuterie plate we shared a few months back at Seed, the snazzy new local dining spot, and we were both hooked for life. But Heywood’s Provision Company, the local source for Seed’s duck pastrami, offers it only during the colder months, and so I knew I would need to find a suitable recipe in order to make it myself.
Enter The Deli Maven’s Cookbook.
The book includes a recipe for beef pastrami that works perfectly well for duck as well... and I know this because I have made both versions.
Oh. My. Gawd.
Not that I need to be eating a whole lot of cured meat (it does, after all, contain plenty of sodium and nitrites), but when the Pastrami Jones strikes, it’s a lot cheaper to make your own. To paraphrase Scarlett Oy-Hara, “As Gawd is my witness, I’ll never be hungry for pastrami again!”