You’ll never want to purchase store-bought pastrami again after tasting this juicy, smokey homemade version.
Making your own pastrami is simple, but there are many processes required.
You’ll also need a lot of patience. From start to end, the whole preparation takes 6 to 7 days.
You may skip to the recipe at the bottom of the page, but I suggest going through the guide first since we go over many crucial aspects of the process in more depth.
- What is Pastrami?
- Preparing your corned beef
- Making the Pastrami
- What cut of meat to make pastrami?
- Is pastrami just smoked corned beef?
- What gives pastrami its flavor?
- Is pastrami cooked or raw?
- Is pastrami just roast beef?
- Is a Reuben made with corned beef or pastrami?
- Can you make pastrami from any cut of beef?
- Is corned beef the same as pastrami for Reubens?
- How long do you smoke corned beef to make pastrami?
What is Pastrami?
You’ve probably had pastrami before. It is frequently used as a substitute to more conventional corned beef in a Reuben sandwich.
The most popular hypothesis holds that Pastrami was originally served in New York in the late 1800s by Romanian Jewish immigrants. They brought with them the method for preserving meat.
This film provides a fascinating look at the origins of Pastrami.
I didn’t realize where this meat originates from or how it’s prepared until I wanted to create my own pastrami.
Pastrami was traditionally supposed to be a special cut of preserved beef.
While corned beef is the most often used ingredient in pastrami, it may also be made from salmon, turkey, or beef ribs.
Pastrami is a comprehensive phrase that refers to the curing and smoking processes. Pastrami was traditionally steamed as well.
Preparing your corned beef
To create the greatest pastrami, you must first prepare your own corned meat.
Sure, you might save time by buying it pre-made, but when you make it yourself, you can ensure that you use the appropriate cut of beef and trim it to perfection.
Making your own corned beef is not difficult, but it takes time. Don’t try this dish unless you have plenty of time!
For 5-7 days, keep the brisket thoroughly submerged in a cure mix in the fridge.
1. Choosing the right cut and prepping the beef
Brisket is used to make the majority of corned beef. Any portion of the brisket may be utilized, but the flat is the most usually used since it is easiest to slice into equal slices.
Because the tip area of the brisket contains more fat and connective tissue, the ultimate result will be more tender.
You may also use the navel, which is an additional fatty cut adjacent to the brisket but closer to the belly.
Personal taste dictates that I use a nice grade brisket flat with ample of marbling.
If you’re having trouble finding nice brisket in your area, Snake River Farms provides amazing brisket and allows you to pick the precise weight you desire.
You may need to cut your brisket depending on where you get it:
- 8Using a sharp knife, remove all of the thick white fat, leaving around 1 inch behind.
- Remove any fat on the other side.
2. Curing the corned beef
Curing meat was essential in the days before refrigeration to keep it from deteriorating.
The flavor and texture was a bonus.
Water, salt, and pink curing salt (Prague Powder #1) are the three primary components of the cure.
To enhance the taste, we’ll add a slew of additional ingredients and bring them all to a boil in a huge saucepan until the salt and sugar dissolve.
I got the idea for the cure from this recipe on atbbq.com.
The recipe we’re using is for an entire flat brisket. You may scale it up or down, but be cautious. It is not possible to simply raise or reduce the quantity of Prague Powder #1.
Check out this article for a handy calculator for scaling recipes using curing salt.
Make sure you have a bucket or container big enough to hold the steak and around 2 gallons of water.
You must keep the meat completely immersed for the whole 5 7 days. To keep the meat from floating, weigh it down with a dish.
You should also turn the meat every day or so to help mix up the cure.
Over time, the meat will develop a light gray tint. This is completely typical!
After 6 days this is what my brisket looked like:
You must first desalinate it before you can do anything with it. Place the meat in a tub of cold water and refrigerate it for 8 hours.
Some recipes just call for washing the brisket under the faucet for a few minutes, which you might try if you’re short on time.
You might create traditional corned beef at this stage by cooking it in a big saucepan of water.
But we still have a hankering for smoked pastrami Reuben sandwiches, so we’re not done!
Making the Pastrami
1. Making the Pastrami rub
The two key components in all Pastrami rubs are the same.
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- Coriander powder
I like to produce my own coriander powder by grinding the seeds in my spice grinder.
The key to making a great pastrami rub is to blend crushed components with whole seeds that have been shattered and cracked but not powdered.
Spread a thin coating of normal mustard over the brisket after you’ve created the rub to help it stay.
Then, generously apply the rub, making sure to cover all sides.
To ensure that the rub stays, massage it into the surface with your hand.
You may refrigerate the meat for two days at this stage, but I was impatient and simply let it rest for half an hour while I started up my smoker.
2. Smoking the Pastrami
You should be a week into your Pastrami journey by now, and you’re probably thinking that you should have simply purchased some from the deli.
But trust me, all your work is about to pay off!
You want to start your smoker and maintain a temperature of roughly 250F.
I use my Smoke WiFi thermometer to monitor the temperature, then later in the process, I add a meat probe to determine when the pastrami is done.
To produce the greatest crust, I suggest using a charcoal smoker, but any smoker or grill set up for two-zone cooking will suffice.
Add a couple pieces of your preferred smoking wood, first size. I don’t believe the kind of wood affects all that much. I’m making use of Apple wood bits.
Position the meat on the smoker with the fat side up.
Now you have a few options.
- Smoke the pastrami until it reaches 205 degrees Fahrenheit and is ready to eat.
- Smoke the bark until it becomes a lovely dark color, approximately 155F, and then cover in foil till it reaches 205F.
- Smoke until around 155F and then steam the meat.
The usual method is to finish the Pastrami with a steam. So, if you want to replicate what New York delis do, do this. Steps 6 and 7 in this instruction will show you how to steam Pastrami.
I wrapped my brisket and raised the temperature in the smoker to 300F.
Wrapping the brisket allows it to steam, which is a decent compromise. The negative is that the bark softens with time.
It was still excellent, but if you like a truly solid smoky bark, keeping it unwrapped is the way to go.
Continue to smoke the brisket until it is tender when poked, approximately 205 210F.
Allow 30 minutes to an hour for the meat to rest before slicing.
3. Slicing and serving
You’re almost there, but you don’t want to make a mistake now. To achieve optimal softness, the meat must be well sliced.
Examine the flesh carefully to see which direction the grain is going.
You want to cut perpendicular to the grain (against the grain). Aim for thin, even slices.
This is when a long, sharp slicing knife comes in handy. My Victorinox 12 slicing knife performed well.
There are several ways to serve the pastrami. Of course, the most renowned is the Reuben sandwich.
I also served the sliced pastrami with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing on thinly sliced rye toast.
Don’t forget to serve with pickles! Leftover pastrami will keep in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.
You can also store leftover pastrami in the freezer and reheat it in the microwave. You may also vacuum-pack the leftovers and then immerse the bag in hot water to defrost and reheat them.