The (I couldn’t think of a better name than the) Ultimate Pastrami Burger (…so yeah…)

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Last month the Joy of Kosher started The Kosher Connection, where a bunch of kosher food bloggers got together for a “Link Up” and everyone that was a part of it, would make something that had to do with the theme of the month. I missed last month’s link up, but I’m proud to be a part of it this month. For this month, the theme was grilling, and I decided to knock your socks off with this here post…so you might want to get some socks, because…well, we might be knocking them off…just sayin’.

So remember when I made pastrami? Of course you do! It was awesome. Well it got me thinking, you know how when you order a “pastrami burger” you get a regular hamburger topped with a few pieces of pastrami? Well that’s been my experience, and don’t get me wrong, I like it, but I wanted to make an actual pastrami burger…a burger that’s made from pastrami. My brain juices were flowing, and I thought – hey let’s take a piece of cow (the navel section, which you can read up on in the original pastrami post), cure it in the typical pastrami brine, and then grind it, and form burgers out of it. Genius right? I know…

Now before we go further, let me stop your wondering, and clear up a few things. First – yes I am awesome. I know that’s been plaguing you. Second – if this is the way people have been making typical pastrami burgers this whole time, and I’ve just been oblivious to that, well then I apologize, and I take back that being awesome thingy (well some of it). I came up with this idea, and kind of ran with it, so just let me pretend that I’m changing lives here.

Ok, so as you’ll recall, pastrami traditionally means that the meats been cured, allowed to dry, then coated in coriander and black pepper, then smoked, and then steamed. Since I’m going to be grilling them, we’re going to skip the steaming step, and instead, we’re just going straight to the gluttony step…my favorite part.

Ok so like last time, it starts with a piece of cow which comes from the navel, which is a little further down from the brisket, which is traditionally the cut used for pastrami, however it can be done with brisket (just ignore the foodie snobs who will say you can’t…it might not be as good, but it will still work). Then the meat takes a nice long bath in some salty solution, otherwise known as a brine. The brine classically calls for sodium nitrite, aka pink salt, which is what cures the meat. If you want to know more about pink salt and what it does to the meat, well check out the previous post on pastrami. Now you can certainly leave it out if you want, but I left it in.

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After about 3 days in the brine, I took it out, and let it dry in the fridge. This drying forms what’s known as a pellicle, and allows the smoke to better adhere to the meat, however I don’t know how much of a difference it made here because we ground the meat, but I did it anyway.

So after about a day drying in the fridge, it was time to make the burgers.

Now I know most of y’all don’t have your own meat grinder, and while there are ways to grind meat in the food processor, I don’t really know the halachic ramifications of that (yeah, everyone once in a while, I decide to be somewhat frum), but I’m crazy, and I do actually own one, so let’s get grinding shall we?

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In order to grind your beef properly, you need to make sure everything is super duper cold. You see, you want the meat and fat to smoosh through the dye (the thingy with the holes), and you don’t want the fat to melt, so to ensure that, I cut the meat in cubes, and placed all of it in the freezer for about 20 minutes.

While it was getting cold, I toasted my coriander and pepper, and ground it in a spice grinder.

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Right before grinding, I combined the meat with the spice mixture, and passed it through the grinder.

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When I was ready to make the burgers, I formed a ball of meat, and then with this handy dandy burger press that I bought for $2 in Wegman’s, to form these perfect burgers.

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If you’re one of the normalites, and don’t own a hamburger press, you can obviously form the patties with your hands, but one thing to know, is you have to be very gentle when handling the ground meat. You have to make sure to not over handle and mix too much, or the meat will become tough. So no squishing, and no over mixing.

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I made a wood chip packet by placing a bunch of wood chips (not soaked!) in a foil packet, closed it up, and pierced some holes on top, and placed it directly over the heat in my grill, and allowed it to start smoking.

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(Isaac I know you’re going to say something, so here’s my 2 cents – when you soak the wood, the wood can not go over 212 degrees until all of the water has boiled out, and most of the steam will be water, and not from the combustion of the wood, which is what you want. So don’t soak the wood, and you’ll have more of a woody smoke than if you did…need more proof? Click here)

Now I don’t have a charcoal grill, and yes I understand gas isn’t as good, blah blah blah, but I live in an apartment building, and I figured a charcoal grill is a little on the dangerous side (yet for some reason, I don’t feel the same way about a gas grill, either way..). So on my gas grill, I made a 2 zone grill, that is, I turned on one side, and kept off the other side. That way, we can cook with direct heat, and indirect heat. Direct heat is synonymous with grilling, and is quick and high temperature cooking, whereas in-direct heat is called bar-b-queing, and is slower, and cooler temperatures.

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Anyway, after the grill was nice and smoky, I placed the burgers over the cool part of the grill (ie – over indirect heat) to let it cook slowly, and absorb a nice amount of the smoke, and after about 10-15 minutes on the cool side (depending how cool/hot your grill is), I moved it over the hot temperature to get that nice sear, and that’s it.

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I served it on a toasted bun, with some homemade chipotle mayo (recipe to follow…when I feel like it!), pickles, and red onions.

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The overall reception to these life altering burgers, was that they were…life altering. Am I right guys? (I’m talking to you Naftali, Baila, Rikki, and Chaim).

Well this was fun wasn’t it?

Thanks for stopping by, and since you’ve made it this far, I’m going to share something with you. If you want to do this without all of the hullabaloo that I went through, you can combine ground beef which is destined for hamburgers with some toasted coriander and black pepper, and I’m sure the results will be really good. Let me know.

Interested in seeing all of the other people that are a part of the link up? Of course you are! Well click on that little frog like thing-a-mabob, and you’ll be able to see all of the other creative stuff the other kosher bloogers came up with. Do it for mankind.

The Ultimate Pastrami Burger

Ingredients:

  • 1 3-4 lb navel cut of beef
  • Brine for pastrami (see ingredients here)
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • Wood chips for smoking

Directions:

  1. Place beef in brine for 3 days in the fridge.
  2. After 3 days, take out of the brine, and discard. Pat beef dry and place on a cooling rack in the fridge for another day or so to fully dry (you can leave it in the fridge drying for up to a week)
  3. About 30 minutes prior to grinding, cut the meat into roughly 1” cubes, and place in the freezer.
  4. While the meat’s getting cold, toast the coriander and black pepper in a skillet over high heat, until fragrant, about 3 minutes, and grind the spices in a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle.
  5. Combine the meat and spices, and run through your meat grinder.
  6. Form balls of meat, cover with plastic wrap, and press down with the burger press.
    Alternatively – you can form the burgers with your hand, but one of the keys with making burgers is to not over handle your meat, or it will get tough.
  7. Start a 2 zone fire, by turning on half of your burners if you’re using a gas grill, or if you’re using a charcoal grill, place all of the coals on one side, leaving the other side empty.
  8. Place a 1/2 cup of wood chips in a foil packet, and place over direct heat, and allow to smoke for at least 5-10 minutes.
  9. When ready to grill, place the burgers over the cooler side of the grill, and allow to cook for 10-15 minutes, until almost done, and then move it to the hot side, and sear on both sides for 1-2 minutes.
  10. As with any meat, allow it to rest for at least 5-10 minutes before chomping away.

Enjoy!

24 thoughts on “The (I couldn’t think of a better name than the) Ultimate Pastrami Burger (…so yeah…)

  1. I am mucho impressed. I also spoke with “Isaac”, and he said, avadah you are right, and he is right also. Soaking helps when putting the wood directly on the coals – they don’t burn up right away, as the combustion is only taking place with the outer layer exposed to the heat. That is also why chunks (instead of chips) are so useful. He only buys chunks now (unless they are Jack Daniel chips, which are irresistible). Ober, takah when you are using a gas grill, the chips should not be soaked. Especially in this recipe which only cooks for 15 minutes. You need all the Oshen you can get to make a rayach nichoach. You can also get a smoker box for your grill here: http://www.amazon.com/Charcoal-Companion-Stainless-V-Shape-Smoker/dp/B002WJIQGC

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    1. Thanks HaRav Fresser for consulting with Isaac The nice thing about smoker boxes is the lack of oxygen which will help with the combustion, but I say save your money, and just wrap it in foil. And if you really want to get a head start on combustion, increase the surface area by using sawdust, crazy but would really speed up the process. And yeah, soaking basically puts a slight hold on the combustion of the wood itself, so if you want to delay the process a little then yeah, you can soak them

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  2. Idea: Would Wasserman grind a raw corned beef for you? A nice time-saving tip for those of us who 1)Don’t own a meat grinder and 2) Think of using this recipe less than the requisite 4 days of brining. They did sell me some pastrami rub once (for those of us who don’t own a spice grinder or mortar).

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    1. I think Wasserman’s should be able to grind a brisket (or navel if you want to go traditional), but I’ve never asked them to grind And pastrami rub is black pepper and ground coriander so you can buy ground coriander if you want

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