Alright jerks, here we go. It’s my signature dish. It’s my “pièce de résistance” (translation: “piece of resistance”). It’s my crowd favourite. It’s my mic dropping recipe. It’s my Montreal Smoked Meat. Brought to you by The Smoked Meat Diaries. Available now.
For those of you who don’t know how this works, “Belligerent Recipes” are a series of recipes in which I use colourful and offensive language to guide you towards culinary excellence. Many celebrity chefs talk about cooking with “passion” or “joy.” I cook with anger and hostility. And the results are goddamned mouth-watering. So shut up and do as I tell you.
Lately, Subway has been trying to pass off this abomination as a Montreal Smoked Meat sandwich:
I dry heaved the first time I saw this “thing” in a commercial. If you’ve ever eaten a sandwich from the incomparable Schwartz’s Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen you would know right away that the above is most certainly NOT Montreal Smoked Meat. The paper-thin slices tell you right away that it’s not Montreal-style. It’s very likely not naturally smoked. Hell, it may not even be meat. It offends me. If you’ve tried one of these things, give yourself a good hard slap in the face and read on. If you’ve ordered one on multiple occasions, kindly stop reading, turn off whatever computing device you’re reading this on, lock away all sharp and dangerous objects, and WAIT where you are. You’ve done enough damage to society.
Now, I would never be so bold to claim that I can replicate Schwartz’s Montreal Smoked Meat, but I can replicate Schwartz’s Montreal Smoked Meat. If you follow these directions, you might be able to come close. It won’t be perfect because you’re hopeless, but it’ll do you stupid donkey. It’ll do. First you’re going to need about a week. That’s right. Seven days. If you don’t have the patience to make authentic Montreal Smoked Meat, I have no patience for you. Get out.
If you’re still with me, go down to your local butcher and get a big ole brisket. You won’t find quality brisket at your run-of-the-mill supermarket. You’re going to have to stand elbow-to-elbow with the hipsters and cross-fit douchebags buying paleo bacon at a specialty butcher. That’s the cross to bear for procuring good brisket. I got this 6-pounder of 100% grass-fed beef because I do what I do and I do what I do.
Now you’re going to brine this biznatch. Get a big plastic container with a cover and fill it with four litres of water. Mix in ¾ cups of kosher salt. If you think I’m using a salty tone, this brine is about to be even saltier when you add ¼ cup of curing salt. Sometimes it’s called “Prague Powder” and it can usually be purchased at a butcher. If you can’t find it, you’re pretty much pooched. Throw away your brisket and eat some Kraft Dinner with cut up hotdogs. Add a ¼ cup of sugar.
Add a 1/3 cup of pickling spice.
Seriously, did you actually just do that? I was joking. What would massaging a raw brisket possibly accomplish? Give your head a shake. In fact, just leave now before you embarrass yourself further. Have a cold shower or something, you creep.
Cover that up and put it in the back of the fridge for 4-6 days. Rotate it each day in case the bottom of the container has undissolved salt so that it doesn’t saturate one side of the brisket.
6 days later… It’s game day. Are you nervous? You should be because there’s a 90% chance you will screw this up. Put on appropriate Montreal apparel (any Habs/Alouettes/Impact/Expos gear will do). You’re making Montreal Smoked Meat, not Haligonian Donair Loaf.
Alright, prep your smoker. Wait, what?! You don’t have a smoker? You thought you were going to prepare this on a propane BBQ? Propane?!!!! Bahahahahahahaha. Propane. That’s cute. Propane BBQs are fine when you’re a college student in your early twenties and you want to grill up a few frozen burger patties until they’re well done. But you’re a grown up now. We BBQ with charcoal.
I’ll wait while you go out and buy a kamado BBQ which doubles as a smoker. You wanna drop a grand on a Big Green Egg? Go for it, moneybags. While you’re busy trying to keep up with the Joneses, I’ll go about my way with my cheap knockoff kamado from Wal-Mart. And I won’t lose a wink of sleep, you bourgeois asshole.
Soak a few handfuls of wood chips for a couple hours. I used cherry wood but you can use any kind of wood chips. If you say you can tell the difference between meat smoked with hickory versus mesquite, you’re either a supertaster or a liar. Drain those woodchips and prepare your smoke bomb. Lay out a sheet of aluminum foil, place the chips in the centre, and fold over the sides to create a cylindrical package with the ends open. This way the wood will heat up and burn over time to slow-release the smoke throughout the duration of the cook.
Get that fire going. Err on the side of using a lot of coals so that you won’t have to start a new fire in the middle of the cook.
Place your smoke bomb on the hot coals. Place your smoking stone over the coals. Place a pan filled with water on the smoking stone. Put on the grill and season it with oil. Close the lid and watch the temperature. You’re aiming for 250 degrees. Yes, that’s Fahrenheit, dummy. You thought we were going to scorch this thing at 250 Celsius? Get a clue. While that’s heating up, prep your brined brisket. Take it out of the brine and rinse it off with water and pat dry before applying your rub.
You can make your own rub with an assortment of spices, but now is not the time to be a hero. Use commercial Montreal steak spice. I was lucky enough to have some authentic Schwartz’s steak spice as well as some Joe Beef butcher’s blend spice. I mixed them together and seasoned up this bad boy.
Once your smoker has hit the target temp, throw your brisket on fat side up, close the lid, and adjust your vents to hold temperature. You should be able to hold steady at about 250 for several hours. If your fire goes out, you’re a loser. Plain and simple. If it gets too hot you’re going to burn that brisket and I’ll hold you personally responsible. Low and slow, idiot. Now let the smoke do the work. Do NOT open the lid. I realize that in this day and age with cell phones and such we can’t go 2 minutes without satisfying our curiosity to “check what’s going on,” but how about just this once you pretend it’s 1993 and just kick back for a few hours and watch reruns of Blossom. Woa! I let my 6 pound brisket cook for about 5 hours. A meat thermometer should read 165 degrees in the thickest part of the brisket. I didn’t bother taking the temperature. I knew it was perfect.
I know you want to start digging into that piece of beef but we ain’t done yet. Now we’re going to steam that brisket for a couple of hours to break down the connective fibres in the meat and make it that much more tender.
It’s ideal if you have a roasting pan with a V-rack. I have this pan with a steam tray which works fine. Fill the tray with an inch or two of water, place it over two burners on your stove and heat on low. Cover your brisket with foil like an aluminum tent.
Let it steam for about two hours, replacing the water when necessary. Oh sweet jesus I think it’s ready.
Look at that thing of beauty. Slice across the grain and behold the beautiful pink, moist meat. Pile the slices on rye bread.
I’m only going to say this once – if you put that gorgeous protein on anything but rye bread, I swear to God I will hunt you down and I will end you. This is not for white bread. This is not for brown bread. This is not for whole grain or pumpernickel or sourdough or roti or pita or naan or focaccia or hardtack. Rye bread. That’s it. End of story.
You must add mustard. That is also non-negotiable. If you want to substitute yellow mustard for Dijon or hot mustard, I can live with that. But there must be mustard. If you even think about the word ketchup, I will rain hellfire down upon you.
Serve with a dill pickle (You don’t like pickles? Take a hike). Toss in some fries if you want. And for the real Schwartz’s experience, enjoy a Cott’s black cherry soda with it. Go nuts. This sandwich will change your life. You’re welcome. [drops mic]
Nutritional information: Shut up.
Serves: Cool people.
Rating: 7 stars out of 5 stars.