Pastrami by Susan Minor ToTry

Recipe was posted by Raye Minor at his site with the caption “This recipe and great photos comes by way of jhurlbur!”. All below was extracted from here at the WayBackMachine.

Beef Pastrami
From Habanero Smoker

After receiving favorable review for the way I prepare my pastrami, I feel that I can now post it on this site.

There is no definitive recipe for pastrami. As a matter of fact it does not have to be beef. You can use any type of meat, poultry or even salmon. Pastrami is just highly seasoned meat, though my personal preference is beef; brisket flat cut. You can make pastrami from commercially made corned beef, but if you want to taste a real good pastrami cure it yourself with a dry cure; or use a wet brine (pickle). Both curing methods are included in this recipe. So if you want some great pastrami, I would recommend making your own, and feel free to experiment with the ingredients in the Pastrami Seasoning. Note: if you do not apply the Pastrami Seasoning, you have yourself some nice corned beef.

Have left overs? Try the Black Bean and Pastrami Soup

The following is a conglomeration of several recipes I had found on the web, but I mainly relied on the cooking technique and temperatures outlined at this site Weber Bullet.

Pastrami Dry Cure Ingredients:

  • Brisket flat,
  • 1 Tbsp Morton Tender Quick (or Basic Dry Cure) per pound
  • 1/2 Tbsp dark brown sugar, packed per pound
  • 1/2 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper per pound
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic powder per pound
  • 1 tsp ground coriander per pound


  1. Trim surface fat of an untrimmed brisket flat to 1/8�, this is important so that the cure fully penetrates the meat; yet it leaves enough fat for flavor and to keep the meat moist. If you do a whole brisket or thicker cut of meat, you will need to prepare a wet cure and inject the meat.
  2. After meat has been trimmed, weigh it and measure out the amount of ingredients, based on the weight of the meat. In a small bowl, combine Morton Tender Quick or Basic Cure, sugar and remaining ingredients. Mix all ingredients well, making sure to break up any lumps of sugar, no matter how small. I found that the bare hands work best.
  3. Rub mixture into all sides of brisket, and work it in well. Make sure to use all of the cure mixture, and do not shake off any excess that is on the meat.
  4. Next place brisket into a two gallon Ziploc bag; expel as much air as possible, and make sure the seal is secure. It is also a good idea to place the Ziploc bag into a container, or on a rimmed cookie sheet, just incase the bag leaks. Refrigerate and allow to cure 4 – 6 days, turning the brisket over once daily, to redistribute the cure, and reposition the meat. After 4 – 6 days of curing, remove the brisket from the bag, and thoroughly rinse under cold running water. After rinsing, place the meat in a large container and cover with cold water. Let the meat soak for 30 minutes, change the water, flip the brisket over, and let soak for another 30 minutes. This helps reduce the saltiness from the meat. At this point you can slice a small thin piece off the end, pan fry it and test for saltiness. If it is still too salty for your taste, give it another 30 minute soak. Pat dry with paper towels and apply seasoning rub (see pastrami seasoning recipe that is included in this recipe). Make sure you firmly press the seasoning into the meat with the palm of your hand. Wrap in plastic wrap and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 12 – 24 hours, allowing the cure to equally distribute throughout the meat.
    • If your brisket flat or cut or meat weighs 7 pounds or more, or if it is under 7 pound but unusually thick; you may need to add an extra day to the curing time. If you are curing a whole brisket it is best to use the Pastrami Wet Cure.

Pastrami Wet Cure (Brine/Pickle) Ingredients: (To use instead of the dry cure; and/or use for thicker cuts and/or whole briskets)
For those that like to use a wet cure (brine/pickle), or want to cure larger cuts of meat, I developed this recipe that would have similar flavors as my dry cure mixture, you can also use this for corned beef; just don’t apply the pastrami seasoning, and cook it as you would in your favorite corned beef recipe. Why would you make your own corned beef instead of buying a commercial brand? FLAVOR!!!!

  • 4 Qts. water
  • 12 oz pickling Salt (about 1C+1Tbs.), or 1 � C of Morton�s Kosher salt
  • 1 C. brown sugar (6 oz)
  • 5 garlic cloves, medium size; mashed or coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbs. Black peppercorns
  • 1 Tbs. whole coriander seeds, toasted
  • 2 t. juniper berries, bruised
  • 2 t. brown mustard seeds (or yellow)
  • *1 � oz. Pink salt (InstaCure #1, Prague Powder #1) {about 8 teaspoons}


  1. Generally 4 quarts will be more than enough for most cuts, but depending on the size of your container, and the amount of meat you are curing, you may need more, or could do with less brine. To determine the amount of brine that is needed; you must have the non-reactive container that will hold your cut of meat. Containers that are taller than they are wide, are generally best for brining. The meat should easily fit into the container, if the meat is resting on the sides of the container that is alright. To calculate how much brine you will need, place the meat into the container you will be curing it in. Add water until it covers the meat by at least 1-inch, remove meat and measure the amount of water that is left in the container. Discard that water and replace with fresh water. That is generally all the water you will need to make the appropriate amount of brine (pickle) cure. If it is an odd amount, round up to the next quart. This makes it easier when you recalculate the recipe. For more detailed instructions on how to calculate the amount of brine refer to the “Ingredient” section of Smoked Cured Ham.Once you determine how much liquid you need to cure the meat, you will need to adjust all the ingredients in the recipe proportionately. To save some time on converting this recipe, and to reduce the chance of errors, you should use a recipe converter. The best recipe converter I�ve found is My Kitchen Calculator. There are a few things you need to know before using this convertor, so I encourage you to watch the video before using this calculator.
    • For this recipe you should use the amount of liquid as the base for recalculating the ingredients. For example if you only need 3 quarts of liquid, use .75 as the “Multiplier”. If you need 6 quarts of liquid, use 1.5 as the “Multiplier” etc.
  2. Use the back of a wooden spoon press down and bruise the juniper berries. Wood spoons works better than metal. The wood seems to grasp the berries, while the metal spoon tends to shoot them out like marbles. In a 4 quart nonreactive pot, add 1 quart of water and all ingredients except the pink salt. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 5 minutes; stirring to make sure all the sugar and salt has dissolved. During the simmering, a good amount of scum can form on the surface, but that will clear up after it had cooled and more liquid was added. After 5 minutes, and when the salt and sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and allow it to cool. I usually add ice until the pot is about 3/4 full, to speed up the cooling.
    • Alternate method: Instead of heating the ingredients, mix the salt, sugar and pink salt into the 4 quarts of water and stir until completely dissolved. The pink salt can be added at this time, because the brine mixture will not be heated. Combine 16 fluid ounces of the brine mixture with the rest of the ingredients in a blender and process until evenly blended. Add this to the remaining brine. Also if you used this method, you don’t have to bruise the juniper berries.
    • * The pink salt can be adjusted up to 3.2 ounces per 1 gallon of liquid. The increase in pink salt will give you more of that characteristic flavor you find in hams and bacon, but less of that familiar pastrami flavor. When adding more pink salt, you should reduce the amount of salt by the same amount.
  3. Transfer the cooled mixture to the container you will be brining in (I like to use a Rubbermaid 8 qt. food container); mixed in the pink salt, then added either ice or cold water to bring the mixture up to the 4 qt level, or to the amount of brine you need to use. Refrigerate, and when the brine is cooled to at least 40�F it is ready to be used. If you are brining just a brisket flat, or a cut of meat that is 3-inches or less in thickness, you can place brisket into the container to cure. If you are brining a whole brisket or a thicker cut of meat, you will need to inject an amount of brine that is equal to 10% of the weight of the trimmed meat.
    For more detail instructions on how to inject refer to the “Curing” section of Smoked Cured Ham.
  4. Place in brine, and brine for 4 – 5 days at 38�F to 40�F. If necessary, weigh it down with a plate to keep the meat fully submerged. Also, you can add up to an additional 2 cups of cold water, if necessary to cover the brisket. Because of the type of container you may have, the brisket may have to rest on the side of the container. Just don’t attempt to stuff the brisket into too small of a container. As mentioned earlier, if the meat is touching the sides of the container it is alright, because each day you need removed the brisket, stirred up the brine, turn the meat over or position it in the opposite direction, and return it to the brine. Do this daily until it is fully cured. This method is called over-hauling; the redistribution of cure.
  5. After it has fully cured, follow the procedure listed in the “Dry Cure” section, for rinsing, test tasting, soaking (if necessary), and resting.

Pastrami Seasoning Ingredients:

  • 3 TBS. coriander seeds (4 TBS. if you don�t have white peppercorns).
  • 2 TBS. black peppercorns
  • 2 TBS. yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 TBS. white peppercorns
  • 2 TBS. of granulated garlic

Makes enough rub for one brisket flat.

Smoking/Cooking Directions:

  1. Combine the first four ingredients, and coarsely grind in a spice grinder or coffee grinder. Pour ground mixture into a bowl, add the granulated garlic and remix. Generously apply the seasoning to the brisket, working the rub into the meat by pressing it in with the palms of your hands. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 12 – 24 hours. Four to eight hours before placing the pastrami into the smoker, unwrap the brisket, place it fat side up on a inverted Bradley rack, and place that on a rimmed cookie sheet. Air dry uncovered in the refrigerator. This helps the rub adhere better to the meat, and develops a nice pellicle.
  2. Preheat smoker to 220�F. You can also use a smoking temperature of 250�F, if you want to decrease the cooking time. Remove brisket from the refrigerator, and allow to rest at room temperature for 1 – 2 hours.
  3. Place in the pre-heated Bradley Smoker. You can place the pastrami in the smoker on the inverted rack, or if you like you can arrange the rack in its normal position. Note: if you use frogmats place the brisket inside the rack. If you place the frogmats on an inverted rack, when you move the brisket to the smoker or if you rotate the racks, it has a tendency to slide across the top of the rack. Smoke/cook fat side up if using the Bradley or other electric smoker (fat side down if using a charcoal or propane cooker). Apply 3 hours of smoke. I used 2 hours of pecan, and finished with 1 hour of apple. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 160 � 165�F. You may also want to experiment with a lower internal temperature such as 155�F. This will give you a moister texture, but it may be tougher so cut it as thin as you can, across the grain.
  4. When the brisket reaches an internal temperature of 160 � 165�F, take it out of the smoker. Wrap the brisket in one layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil, and allow to rest (optional: you can add 1/4 cup of beef broth or apple juice before sealing the foil). Once brisket is cool enough to handle, remove the foil, pour off any fat and liquid that may have accumulated, and save the foil. Wrap brisket in plastic wrap, and then wrap it in the foil you just saved. Place in the refrigerator for at least 1 day, two is better. When ready to eat thin slice the pastrami across the grain for a tenderer slice. You can either eat it cold or warm it up.During the resting period, I use to use a modified version of FTC, but found it is not necessary. If you want to FTC the pastrami, this is what I use to do; wrap it in a towel, and place it fat-side up in a cooler or microwave oven for two hours (if just going into the microwave you don’t need the towel). Remove brisket from the cooler (or microwave) and remove the foil, and rewrap with plastic wrap and then a layer of foil.
Steaming Pastrami
From Habanero Smoker
Many have posted how much they like my pastrami recipe, but were not pleased with the texture of the meat. Fully smoking the meat in the smoker until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F produces a dryer pastrami then one would get at their local deli.In an attempt to get a product that is more moist, I left more fat on the meat, smoked it fat side up, and finished by steaming. Doing this, you do get a better finished product then smoking/cooking it completely in the smoker.
NOTE: If you notice a toothpick in one pastrami in the photographs, that is because I cured each pastrami differently. I used a dry cure (dry brine) on one, and pickled (wet brined) the other. The toothpick was placed in the pickled pastrami in order to keep track of it. I wanted to determine whether or not the brine cured one would be more moist. I always felt that you get better pastrami from a dry cured brisket, and at least for this trial, that came true.


  • Prepared pastrami, uncooked*
    • Use your favorite prepared cured and seasoned pastrami recipe. If you don’t have a recipe, either one of these are fine choices; Beef Pastrami, or Pastrami Recipe.
    • *If your pastrami is already fully cooked you can still use this setup to reheat (steam) the pastrami until it is heated through, prior to serving.


  1. Smoking: (optional)
    1. Place pastrami on an inverted Bradley tray, fat side up, and allow to air dry at least 4 hours in the refrigerator, or 2 hours at room temperature using a fan to help air dry. Next place the pastrami in a 100°F pre-heated Bradley Smoker and begin applying four hours of smoke. After the first two hours of smoke increase the temperature to 225°F. For smoke flavor I like to use 2 hours of oak, and finished with 2 hour of apple. Smoke/cook until the internal temperature reaches 150° F.
    2. When the pastrami reaches an internal temperature of 150° F, take it out of the smoker. And allow meat to rest and completely cool down, before steaming. It’s better if you allow it to cool down 24-48 hours in the refrigerator. During cooling, wrap the brisket in one layer of plastic; fat side up and place in the refrigerator. If you going to refrigerate 24 hours or more, cover plastic with one layer of aluminum foil.
  2. Steaming: (Click on Pictures to enlarge) – {Please excuse the quality of the pictures}
    1. After pastrami has sufficiently rested and cooled, it is now time to steam it using your oven. Place oven rack in the second position from the bottom, and preheat the oven to 275°F – 300°F. In a roasting pan, place one inch of hot water in the bottom of the pan, and place meat, fat side up, on a rack to keep it out of the water.

      • If you do not have a rack to elevate the meat to keep it out of the liquid, you can use an inverted Bradley rack (if it will fit in your pan). With the Bradley racks you will not be able to add one inch of water, so you may have to check the water level during cooking. Or you can tightly wad up aluminum foil into four one inch balls, and place a cooling rack on top of the aluminum balls; as pictured below.
      • I recently came across these 9 inch wok steaming racks that work well. One rack is large enough to hold one entire pastrami above the water. You will need one rack for each pastrami. What makes them versatile is that they are small, so if you only have one pastrami to steam; they will fit in a smaller pan and make for easy clean up.
    2. On the stove top tightly cover the pan with a tight fitting lid or use heavy duty aluminum foil, making sure the foil does not touch the meat. Bring liquid to a boil, and carefully transfer to the oven, and allow it to steam until an internal temperature of 160°F* is reached. If you are using a probe, it is best to position the probe prior to sealing the foil. I generally will not plug the probe into the receiver until after I have placed the pan into the oven.
    3. After steaming allow to rest for 45 minutes to an hour. After resting your can slice, or again allow meat to cool then wrap in plastic wrap, then a layer of foil, and place in the refrigerator for later use. You can either eat it cold or warm it up.To reheat cold pastrami steam until heated through and then slice. When ready to eat thin slice the pastrami across the grain for a tender slice. Or pre-slice the pastrami, seal them in FoodSaver bags, and you can reheat by placing the bags in simmering water until heated through. Pastrami can be stored in the refrigerator for up to seven days, or frozen for longer storage.

Additional Information:

  • I came across a Culinary Institute of America recipe. In that recipe they brought the pastrami only up to 150°F. I did this once and it was delicious and very moist; but word of caution – you need to slice it deli thin or it will be on the tough side.
  • For leftovers check out the Black Bean and Pastrami Soup recipe.
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