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My Favorite Pastrami

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    My Favorite Pastrami

    I originally started with a recipe on this site. Over the past 5 years I have been tweaking the recipe. It is the most requested item at our potlucks for work. My son-in-law likes it so much it is his requested gift for birthday and Christmas.
    I have 14 pounds of cut brisket brining at the moment. will be smoking it December 24.
    Here is my recipe....

    The Brine
    • 8/16 lbs of Beef Brisket
    • 1/2 gallon of water
    • 8/16 ounces Kosher Salt by weight
    • 3/6 teaspoons Prague Powder #1
    • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
    • 5/10 Tablespoons Pickling Spices
    • 5/10 Cloves Garlic (Crush the Cloves)
    • 4/8 Tablespoons Juniper Berries (Crush the Berries)
    Use a food grade container large enough to hold the Beef Brisket and 1/2 gallon of water, A 5 gallon bucket works well but needs to be food grade or you and line a home depot bucket with a Turkey Roasting Bag. Do not use Aluminum, Copper or Cast Iron as the brine will react with the metals. Do not use Styrofoam as this will give the meat a strange flavor.
    To make the Brine, use 1-2 quarts of very hot water and mix all the ingredients (except the brisket). When all of the Salt and sugar are dissolved into the water then add 3 quarts of very cold water.
    Put your brisket into the brine and store in the refrigerator for one to three weeks (3 weeks for best results). Remove your brisket from the brine
    Place the brined brisket in fresh water for at least 24 hours this removes some of the saltiness.
    Remove from fresh water and apply dry rub by patting it on to the brisket, see below for ingredients for dry rub.
    Pastrami Dry Rub for 8 pounds (multiply for each 8 pounds)
    • 4 Tablespoons Coarsely Ground Black Pepper
    • 2 Tablespoons Coriander Powder
    • 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
    • 1 Tablespoon Paprika
    • 2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
    • 2 teaspoons Onion Powder
    • 1 teaspoon Mustard Powder (Ground Mustard)
    Mix all ingredients and apply to Brisket.
    Yes this truly is a dry rub and without it you will not get some of the flavors that Pastrami has. (Most real bacon is made using a dry rub)
    Let sit in refrigerator for 1-2 days (2 days for best results)
    Smoke the brisket for 5 to 7 hours depending on the size of the meat and the internal temperature of the meat (the longer and slower you smoke the better the flavor). Keep the temperature of the smoker at or just below 235F. Meat is safely cooked when the internal core temperature of the meat is at 150F. You do not want to cook the meat fast as it will sear the meat and to smoke will not penetrate.
    For longer smoking keep the temperature low. Near the end of the smoking raise the temperature until you reach the internal core temperature of the meat 150F.

    150 seems like a really low finishing temp. Why not cook to probe tender or around 200?


    • pkadare
      pkadare commented
      Editing a comment
      Because pastrami is traditionally steamed after smoking. Check Meathead's Close to Katz' recipe.

    Make sure to use our curing calculator to determine how much Prague Powder and time in the cure.

    Dr. Bonder's Curing Calculator


      I have been experimenting with the pastrami recipe. I am no longer recommending steaming. It is too fussy, too messy, takes too long, and washes off much of the rub and bark. Using the Texas Crutch at the time the bark turns dark and the stall kicks in, at about 150-160F, and the result is wubba wubba with much better spice retention. If you are not familiar with the Crutch, read this https://amazingribs.com/more-techniq...speed-cooking/

      Try it!


      • das85
        das85 commented
        Editing a comment
        That is fascinating. My pastrami results have been consistently so much better than my brisket results that I had decided to try steam-finishing my next brisket flat. Maybe I'll try both - crutched pastrami and steamed brisket - just to complete my experiment!

      • Steppy
        Steppy commented
        Editing a comment
        Do you think that crutching is better than finishing a la sous vide? I have six pounds of home corned beef I just desalinated and put a rub on.
        Last edited by Steppy; March 19, 2022, 09:30 AM.

      • MattH
        MattH commented
        Editing a comment
        I would honestly leave both steaming and smoking to 203 in the Pastrami recipe. I don't mind losing the crusty bark to the delicious, moist result. Plus, the steaming allows me to smoke other things on my smoker the same day. I can smoke the pastrami on Thursday, hold it until the Sat and finish it with steam while I smoke the ribs and a chicken or two on the same day. This week I am also going to try to smoke a brisket, then vacuum seal it then sous vide it on the weekend.

      In the process of making my first pastrami in years. Just made up the brine and now waiting for it to cool before adding the brisket and beginning the brining process. Looking at Bill's recipe above, he includes the step of air chilling/brining in the refrigerator after completing the wet brine. I seem to remember that step being a part of Meathead's recipe too but it isn't mentioned in the Close to Katz' Pastrami recipe in the book. Current plan is to wet brine for 5-7 days, desalinate for a day or two and then dry brine/season in the refrigerator for 2 days before smoking. Does that all sound about right to everybody?


      • Draznnl
        Draznnl commented
        Editing a comment
        Your plan is spot on with Meathead's from the website.

      Thanks for the confirmation, Draz. I must have gotten that from the website before I picked up the book.


      • MattH
        MattH commented
        Editing a comment
        I just realized that too. He modified the recipe this year to exclude the steaming step. I like that step though as on the day of a party I can just let the pastrami steam and then keep warm while I smoke the ribs. It's just easier for me when planning multiple smoked meats and having guest here.


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