Homemade pastrami, influences taken from:
- 1 brisket or brisket flat 5–12 lbs
- 3/4 C (227 grams) kosher salt
- 1 C (156 grams) brown sugar
- 4 whole cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 Tbsp whole mustard seed
- 2 Tbsp whole coriander seed
- 1 Tbsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp (19 grams) Prague powder #1 (pink curing salt)
- 1 Tbsp whole allspice berries
- 6 whole cloves
- 2 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
- 6 bay leaves
- 1 Gallon water
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup whole black peppercorns
- 2/3 cup whole coriander seed
- 1 Tbsp granulated garlic
- 1 Tbsp granulated onion
- 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
- 2 Tbsp paprika
Trim and brine the meat
- Make the brine in a suitably sized container by mixing the water with the other brine ingredients and whisking until the salt and sugar are dissolved.
- Trim the brisket of excess fat according to your preference. If using a whole brisket, trim the fat between the flat and point. (For a good look at that process, see our post on Brisket Burnt Ends.)
- Submerge the brisket in the brine and refrigerate it for 7–10 days, turning it over in the brine every day or two.
Rinse, rub, and smoke the brisket
- The day of the smoking, prepare the rub by coarsely grinding the coriander and the pepper and mixing them both with the other ingredients for the rub.
- Preheat your smoker to 250°F (121°C) using your choice of smoking wood. If using your Smoke to monitor the air temp, set the High-temp alarm for 250°F (121°C) and the low-temp alarm for 225°F (107°C).
- Remove the beef from the brine and discard the brine carefully so that you don’t contaminate your kitchen with beef juices.
- Rinse the cured beef under cold running water, then dry it all over with paper towels.
- Apply the rub liberally all over the brisket, including in the gap between the flat and point.
- Put the beef on the smoker and insert a probe into its thickest part. Set the high-temp alarm for 150°F (66°C) and smoke the beef.
- When the high-temp alarm sounds, verify with your Thermapen ONE and remove the pastrami from the smoker.
- If you are going to finish cooking the next day, let the pastrami cool to room temperature, uncovered, before wrapping or covering it and refrigerating it. If you are doing it all in one day, just continue to the steaming step.
Steam the pastrami
- Heat your oven to 275°F (135°C).
- Set a rack in the bottom of a roasting pan and pour nearly 1/2″ of very hot water into the bottom of it.
- Place the pastrami on the rack, cover it tightly with foil, and place it in the oven.
- Insert a probe from your Smoke and set the high-temp alarm for 203°F (95°C).
- Steam the meat until the high-temp alarm sounds.
- Verify the internal temperature with your Thermapen ONE. Remember that this doesn’t need to feel super tender, as it will be sliced very thinly.
- Remove the pastrami from the oven and either start carving it right away or cool it to make into cold cuts later.
- Eat it, eat as much of it as you can!
This rub is a little coriander-heavy, even compared to some other pastramis. I love it this way, as did literally everyone who ate some when we made it here. But if it’s a little much coriander for you, scale that spice back to only 1/2 C. I don’t think that is in any way necessary, but people have different tastes.