I had breakfast at Katz’s Deli on my recent visit to New York. (The Katz’s Delis in Houston and Austin have no association with the original New York Katz’s, by the way.) While I was eating this plate of smoked brisket and eggs, I couldn’t help thinking about a smoked brisket and egg taco I had at the Plantation BBQ trailer on 90A outside of Richmond a few weeks earlier.
The pastrami at Katz’s in NYC is made from a brisket that has been brined and seasoned and then smoked. At Jewish delis like Schwartz’s in Montreal, they make “smoked meat” from brisket that is rubbed with a curing seasoning and then slow smoked. Robert Sietsama once wrote an amusing comparison of the two.
Sietsama noted that both of these Jewish pastramis bear a strong resemblance to Texas barbecue brisket. The only difference seems to be the use of a little curing salt.
A barbecue competition judge recently told me that the red smoke ring is no longer part of the judging standards for barbecued brisket because some competitors had hit on the bright idea of rubbing the brisket with curing salt to get a brighter red color. There was evidently nothing in the barbecue competition rules that excluded curing salts from the seasoning.
Maybe they need to add a pastrami category to the Houston Rodeo Barbecue Cook-off?