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Pastrami question

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    Pastrami question

    Hi everyone! I have looked for this answer but dont see it. I have some corned beef flat and point packages that I intend to make into Pastrami. My question is this
    The packages have a small packet of the corned beef pickling spice that is separate , so the meat is not cured at all. So I dont have to rinse overnight? In essence its just a brisket point at this stage? How do I go from here?

    If the package says corned beef, then it's cured/corned. And yes, you do need to desalinate for 8, 10, 12hrs in cold water prior to smoking into pastrami. It will be unbearably salty if you do not. You do not need to do that if you're boiling it as regular corned beef because that boil will pull the excess salt out. Toss that spice pack, it's useless, it's just extra spices they always put in the package.


      First, a mod will probably move this... but corned means cured, you need to soak and desalinate, and 24 hours might not be long enough. You can use the spice bag in your desalination soak or crush it up and use with you pastrami rub, or just throw it away.


      • Murdy
        Murdy commented
        Editing a comment
        Is it possible the spice bag has salt in it?

      • ItsAllGoneToTheDogs
        ItsAllGoneToTheDogs commented
        Editing a comment
        Murdy I've never seen one with salt (dunno why there would be a packet like that that exists considering the meat is already heavily salt saturated), usually just your typical pickle spices

      Originally posted by Huskee View Post
      If the package says corned beef, then it's cured/corned. And yes, you do need to desalinate for 8, 10, 12hrs in cold water prior to smoking into pastrami. It will be unbearably salty if you do not. You do not need to do that if you're boiling it as regular corned beef because that boil will pull the excess salt out. Toss that spice pack, it's useless, it's just extra spices they always put in the package.
      What he said. Every package of corned beef I have ever seen has the spice packet in it. Just toss it and then soak the meat at least overnight. If you were going to cure/corn your own brisket, then you would need corning spices and a lot more than an overnight soak, but since you have a corned beef you just need to soak it overnight before starting the pastrami.


        This thread sort of begs the question: why do they put the spice packet in there if it is cured? Whenever I have made corned beef from scratch, the pickling spices are added to the brine at the start, not after it is finished. So why is it in there?


        • Joey877
          Joey877 commented
          Editing a comment
          My understanding is that it is to be used when boiling/cooking the corned beef to keep the cured flavor as strong as possible. Not sure where I heard this as it has been years ago, but that's always been my understanding.

        • shify
          shify commented
          Editing a comment
          Yup - the spice packet is for the boiling liquid to cook the corned beef. Even from scratch corned beef recipes have you boil with spices and/or veggies. If you are smoking into pastrami, no need for the spice packet

        • GolfGeezer
          GolfGeezer commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks fellas. Asked and answered. I've only used a packaged corned beef once (a point on sale after St. Paddy's Day), but that was for pastrami, so definitely desalted overnight. Too long ago to remember if it was good or not.

        Pastrami makes the best Rubin Sanwiches.
        Don't forget the change the cold water a couple of times.


          ON desalinating - rather than guess if it's OK at some particular point, do this:

          Start 24 hours before you want to smoke it. At the 8-12 hour mark, remove the corned beef, slice a bit off and cook it (microwave is fine, you just want it cooked so it's safe to eat). Taste it. Too salty? Change the water, desalinate another 8-12 hours. About right? wrap it and put it back in the fridge until you want to smoke it.


            I desalinated this point corned beef for about 14 hours, added MH Katz pastrami seasoning and smoked at 235 in my LSG pellet grill until it hit 160, then suspended it over liquid covered in my indoor oven until it hit probe tender (about 200).....absolutely amazing!! Click image for larger version

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              So this is an interesting topic and I thought I'd pass along my observations after having done pastrami a few times.

              Obviously, cured corned beef needs to be desalinated before smoking into pastrami by soaking. My question has always been how long, as I remember a couple of times it seemed like I oversoaked it and lost too much salt flavor. I know at least once I felt like my pastrami was too bland and needed additional salt. I think this was after an overnight soak with multiple water changes.

              So what I've settled on now is this - if I'm in a hurry, I can soak for 4-6 hours with a couple of water changes and this seems to get me about where I've needed to be. If not, I leave it overnight in a large pot of water without changing the water and this seems to be about ok, as well.

              Of course, temp issues are the thing, keeping it cold.


              • DogFaced PonySoldier
                DogFaced PonySoldier commented
                Editing a comment
                I should add that this is with small pieces - I am not talking large packers, this is like a 3.5 lb point or something.

              I’ve have settled on 24 hours and 2-3 water changes mainly due to scheduling then anything else but I have done shorter overnight soaks before with no issues.

              The key to remember is that the water can absorb so much salt so you need to change it if you want more salt pulled out. Leaving it in longer doesn’t do much.



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