I have been pestering my good friends at Tejas Burger Joint for a good long time now to create a pastrami burger. Their Smokehouse Burger is already second to none. And I thought a pastrami burger would be a nice addition to their stable of signature burgers. My simple-minded thought was, you know – take a couple slices of pastrami from their barbecue joint (oh how I love Pastrami Thursday at Tejas Barbecue & Chocolate), slap ’em down on top of that awesome smoked prime ground brisket patty, and call it good. But that’s not how Greg and Scott Moore operate. They are very thoughtful about how they approach any new item they consider for their menu. They’ve clearly been working through how to do a pastrami burger the right way for a while. So when Greg shared with me last month what they were planning to do for a pastrami burger, it kinda blew my mind. The amount of time and effort they put into making this new pastrami burger is just outrageous.
They start the way any good pastrami is made – they brine a USDA prime grade certified Angus brisket for about a week. Just making the brine and then managing the weeklong process is already plenty of work. But then it gets even better. They take that beautiful cured prime brisket after they’ve let it sit and dry age for a few days — and they grind it and form burger patties out of it. How many of you have seen a ground pastrami patty before? Why didn’t I think of that?! Then they season the patties with some pastrami seasoning and put them in Samwell Tarley, the Burger Joint offset pit, and smoke ’em for about an hour over post oak, the same way they do their signature smokehouse burger patties. They then take these expertly-smoked patties and place them on perfectly-toasted rye bread that comes with a couple slices of melted cheese, grilled onions and housemade sauerkraut, and a nice squirting of yellow mustard. We won’t even get into how long it takes to make the sauerkraut.
It is a heck of an effort and time commitment just to make this one burger. But oh what a hamburger it is. It has the mouthfeel of a burger. But the flavor profile is definitely pastrami. It is not an overpowering pastrami that hits you in the face. It’s more subtle, but definitely the primary flavor you get in the burger. Combining that outstanding pastrami flavor with the cheese, grilled onions, sauerkraut and mustard was like a happy dance in my mouth – a perfect balance of flavors and textures. Not long ago I didn’t think I could find a burger better than Tejas’ Smokehouse Burger. But now I’m not so sure. So I’ll have to go back and try both of them a few dozen more times to try to make up my mind.
Why don’t you go find out for yourself. And then tell me what you think of it.