Anton creates spicy New York style beef flavors
Anton Douglas, founder of the new Vulcan’s Smokehouse in Dromore, Co Down
Anton (29), a graduate of the University of London in art and music, has just started the smoker who specializes in pastrami sandwiches from his parents Mark and Karen Douglas in the market town.
Mark is better known throughout Northern Ireland and beyond as Krazi Baker, a traditional skillet baker of potato, soda, and treacle bread at outdoor markets, particularly in Newtownards, Carrickfergus, and Comber.
Anton, who has extensive experience managing tourist destinations in many parts of France, Spain and Italy for the past five years, admits he was influenced by his father’s outstanding success.
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New York style pastrami
“I’ve always wanted to do something innovative here in terms of food and I decided to explore possibilities when the coronavirus pandemic shut down tourism in Europe,” explains Anton. “I’ve worked on stands with my father over the years and learned a lot from him about how to build relationships with customers and consistently offer high quality food.”
Anton’s time in Europe included advising tourists in restaurants.
“The opportunity to try the different cuisines also made me want to start my own small food business,” he explains.
He currently works at the award-winning Stillhouse Bistro, Ruby Blue Vodka Distillery, and Gin School run by Stuart and Barbara Hughes in Moira, Co Armagh. This was a hugely popular attraction before the pandemic, which subsequently developed a call and collection service for meat.
New York style pastrami
“I enjoy working for Stuart and Barbara and have learned a lot from them about great food and great customer service,” he continues. “I enjoyed being particularly involved in the local gin school,” he adds.
Influenced by his experience of New York’s colorful homemade pastrami houses, Anton set off late last year to investigate how he could start his own small food business to make the popular smoked beef sandwich that has long been a feature of the culinary traditions of the US city.
What is special about pastrami? Anton explains, “While pastrami originated in Romania as smoked beef, New York restaurants like Katz’s have created a unique and great-tasting sandwich,” he says. “Classic New York delicatessen meat is made from cured, smoked and seasoned beef from Romanian immigrants who came to the United States at the end of the 19th century. It’s a peppery, flavored sandwich usually made with brisket of beef. “
The distinctive flavors of pastrami, he continues, are smoke and spicy black pepper with the sweet citrus scent of coriander.
“The deli-style beef pastrami we know is made by hardening beef in a salt solution made from salt, sugar and spices for up to a week. It is then often seasoned with a dry mixture of spices and left to rest for a few days before being smoked for several hours, ”he explains.
He bought a small smoker and started researching where the beef came from to provide the distinctive flavors for his own pastrami.
“My research found that the best beef for the pastrami flavors I was looking for came from Hereford or Black Angus cattle. I found the brisket some butchers provide here is really best for pot roast. I wanted something completely different, ”he adds.
His extensive research led him to Corrabach Farm near Enniskillen, which raises the Herefords. The farm’s chest piece turned out to be exactly what Anton wanted for healing and smoking.
He also created his own hot sauces for the process and then tried the pastrami on family and friends.
“I’ve tried using locally sourced ingredients in my sauces, including apple cider vinegar from Long Meadow Farm in Loughgall, Armagh for the brine. The fresh bread for sandwiches and rolls comes from my father, of course. We also grew chillies at home for the hot and spicy sauces, ”adds Anton.
He has now developed a pastrami that he is happy with and that is perfect for sandwiches and rolls to take away. It bears the distinctive Vulcan’s Smokehouse logo, which comes from Vulcan, the mythical Roman god of fire.
The challenge for Anton now is to get his delicious pastrami sandwiches to the market in the best possible way.
“The feedback was encouraging and there is great interest in the sandwiches. I look at several ways to get to the market, including a booth in local markets and other events. The options are of course limited due to the blocking of sports and other outdoor events. Creating a street food truck is another idea I’m considering. “Finding the right pitch will be crucial,” he adds.
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