When I moved to DC 10 years ago, I asked two questions: “Where should I live?” and “Where can I get a good corned beef sandwich?” I found where to live…
…but finding the sandwich was tough. So I started making corned beef and pastrami myself. At first I just made it for my family and friends. But like any good chef, a little positive feedback can move a train. What started as a hobby eventually turned into my calling.
I heard about natural curatives instead of using the synthetic ones and spent a year working on the right combination of ingredients. I spoke to chefs, cooks, chef instructors, scientists, food technologists, PhD’s, butchers and many others highly respected in their fields. I even took a class at Iowa State University to learn more. I made a mountain of food over that year and pulled together a tasting panel. For some reason, those people were always available when I called about my deli tastings. (11 times!)
There was corned beef, pastrami, turkey, roast beef, chopped chicken liver, matzo ball soup, dumplings, egg rolls and god only knows what else I thought of and have since forgotten. The comments ranged from “This is unbelievable” to “Oh Jeez, this is amazing.” Even so, I always thought I could do better and the testing continued. I finally nailed the recipe and went to work on different cooking methods. I only had room to cure one to two briskets at a time, so you can imagine how long it took to practice on 600 pounds of brisket. After four different techniques, I settled on mine.
Next stop: a commercial kitchen space so I could do this for real. I spent the first six weeks taking my test-batch size to small-production amounts. We’re talking going from a 15-pound batch to 150 pounds at a time. I always said we would not sell anything until we could say to ourselves that the 150th pound is every bit as good as the first 15. Well… it is. Finally! It did not come quick or easy, but I never thought it would.
I am more than proud to say that our fans out there are telling us that this is the best corned beef and pastrami they have ever had. In fact, more than a few have said they thought they knew what pastrami was but after trying ours they admitted that they must have been fooled.
Of course, who could rest with that? Not me. Nope. I had a charity dinner to cook for one night in late January and wondered what to make for passed hors d’oeuvres. I remembered I had pastrami in the freezer. So I ground it up and mixed it with some other fun ingredients, and Pastrami Dumplings were born. To quote a chef friend: “I knew these would be good, but I had no idea that they would be this good.” It’s my tribute to my Jewish Heritage and my people’s love for Chinese Food. Then came Duck Confit Egg Rolls.
— Douglas Singer
Singer’s Significant Meats