Smoked Pastrami Recipe

Servings
20-25
Prep
15m
Cook
7h
Difficulty
Medium

The rich and peppery flavour of pastrami makes it a favourite at iconic New York delis. If you don’t happen to have a great local deli around the corner, you can make Smoked Pastrami at home. And we’d wager that yours will be even better; tender and juicy with that signature pastrami spice crust. Be sure to save some to try our Smoked Pastrami Sandwich recipe.

Ideally, pastrami is made using the beef navel or a brisket point, not the easiest cuts to find. And so, we used the brisket flat which is generally much more readily available in grocery stores. After curing the beef in a highly seasoned brine for several days, we applied a peppery rub and smoked the brisket. Before slicing, we finished it with the traditional steaming method.

Ingredients

Pastrami

7-pound USDA choice brisket flat, fat cap trimmed to ⅛ inch
6-7 apple wood chunks
2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
1 cup beef stock in a spray bottle

Brine

½-gallon water
1 cup kosher salt
¾ cup brown sugar
3½ teaspoons pink curing salt
2 tablespoons coriander seed
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon green peppercorns
1 tablespoon dried minced garlic
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3-4 bay leaves, crushed up
1 cinnamon stick
4 pounds ice or 2 quarts very cold water

Pastrami Rub

2 tablespoons coriander seed
1 tablespoon mustard seed
½ teaspoon fennel seed
12 tablespoons coarse ground black pepper
½ teaspoon dried minced garlic

Preparation

  1. Bring water to a boil in a medium-size pot. Reduce heat to a heavy simmer. Add salt, brown sugar, curing salt, coriander seed, black and green peppercorns, garlic, red pepper, dry mustard, allspice, ginger, bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and rest for 15 minutes. Add ice, place in the refrigerator and chill until the brine reaches 40°F.
  2. Place the brisket in a non-reactive container large enough to hold the brisket flat. Pour the chilled brine over the brisket and cover. Place in the refrigerator for 5 ½ days, flipping the brisket once a day. Remove and rinse the brine off. Pat the brisket dry with paper towels.
    HOT TIPA non-reactive container is made from plastic, ceramic, glass, stainless steel or anodized aluminium (NOT regular aluminium) for use when brining to prevent the container from dissolving, leaching or causing contamination.
  3. Preheat smoker to 275°F and toss wood chunks onto hot charcoal. Place a water pan in your smoker, if desired.
    HOT TIPUsing a water pan to add moisture to the smoke chamber is optional and can increase condensation under the smoker lid. Adding spices, beer or wine to the water pan can be used to infuse an added layer of flavour into your food.
  4. Crush the coriander, mustard and fennel seeds together with a mortar and pestle or place them in a zip top bag and crush with a tenderizing mallet. Add pepper and garlic to the crushed seeds. Lightly apply oil over the entire brisket flat. Season the top and bottom with pastrami rub.
  5. Place the seasoned brisket in the smoker. Spritz with beef stock. Smoke, spritzing hourly and adding wood as needed, until internal temperature reaches 160-170°F, about 5 ½ hours. If you choose not to steam your pastrami, you can skip the next step and continue smoking until it is tender and reaches an internal temperature of 203°F.
  6. Fill the bottom of a steam pan with water. Set a rack in the pan and place the brisket on the rack.
  7. Cover pan with a lid or second steam pan. Tightly seal the edges with foil and place in the smoker.
  8. Raise the smoker temperature to 300°F. Cook until the brisket reaches an internal temperature of 200-203°F, about 90 minutes.
  9. Remove pastrami from smoker and let rest for 20 minutes. Slice across the grain and serve.

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