Pastrami for Kelley’s birthday

This cure and smoke turned out good. It was a joint effort with Mary helping a lot as we set it up and took it to the farm to turn it every day. Brought it back to Houston and smoked it almost 5 hours that afternoon. Finished it in the oven on Kelley’s birthday. The big difference this time was lightly grinding the rubs rather than leaving the seeds and corns whole. The small piece we had when it was opened and cut was good. Kelley raved about how good it was. Note the last Conclusion that grinding the seeds maybe reduced the flavor. See the May 5th cook as it was better.

6/27/2017 – Mary bought a “Beef Brisket Flat Market Trim” weighing 2.82 lb. (1279.12 gm) for $4.49/lb at HEB.

6/28/2017 ~10 am – She mixed Foamhart’s seasoning recipe below, course ground it in the coffee grinder then rubbed it into the meat. Grinding the spices and bay leaf provided a rub that was a lot more evenly distributed.

1.5 T Granulated garlic rounded
~1/6 t Ground Cloves
1.5 Bay Leaf pieces
1/2 t rounded Coriander seeds
1/2 t rounded Brown Mustard Seeds
1 t Thyme
1-1/2 T cracked black pepper.

8:00 PM – Prepared the cure using the values below. Warmed the salt, sugar, and water enough to dissolve it. Let it cool to lukewarm and added the cure. Poured it into the ziplock with the meat.


1279.12 gm x 25% = ~320 gm water for a 4:1 ratio. Total weight = ~1600 gms
Per the Cure Calculator for 1600 gm:
Cure #1 Needed…3.99 grams
Salt Needed… 28.26 grams
Sugar Needed… 16 grams
Total 1648.25 grams

Loaded it with other food stuffs in an ice chest for the trip to the farm. Mary flipped it almost every day in the tray of the refer.

7/11/2017 – Arrived in Houston about 3 PM on this the 13th day. Started the MES as we unloaded. Mixed and rubbed in Chef JJ’s Pastrami Rub slightly modified as listed below. Click here for his post at SMF.

2T Black Peppercorns
1T Coriander Seed
1T Dry Minced Onion – Had to use onion powder so only added 2t
1T Dry Minced Garlic
1tsp Allspice Berries
1tsp Mustard Seed – Used yellow as did he
1tsp Dry Thyme Leaves Forgot them…
3 Bay Leaves, crumbled small and put into the grinder with the other hard seeds
1tsp Juniper Berries

All Spices, other than the granulated garlic and onion powder, were whole then cracked a little in the coffee grinder. The peppercorns did not all crack but the mustard seeds were almost powder. Should have cracked the peppercorns first then and the other. [Did not brown them in a heavy skillet as he calls for.] Rinsed the meat to remove the large pieces of cure-marinade. Rubbed the spices and herbs into the meat.

3:45 PM – Put it into the MES that was preheated to 235 but had coasted up to 270. Smoke was Trafalgar Hickory pellets in the Amazen tray.

5:45 – Grate temp is 233.

9:00 PM – Pulled from MES as we are too tired to stay up. IT is 162. Left in the refer on a small baking sheet with the whole sheet pan and meat wrapped in foil.

July 12; 9:45 AM – Mary put the wrapped cured and smoked meat from the refer into a cold convection oven set at 275. She installed the Chefworks internal thermometer and watched it until the exhaustion from the trip to the farm caught up with her and she took a nap. She awoke and found the meat IT was 213 at 3:30 PM. She also found it was very tender.

3:30 PM – Mary awoke and found the meat IT was 213 at 3:30 PM. She also found it was very tender.

8:30 PM – Kelley opened her birthday present with the two bows on top of the aluminum foil on the cookie sheet and smiled: “I can make my own Rubens” — or something close to that. It was very tender and had a firm texture. After tasting, she said “OMG, The BEST Pastrami I have ever had.”  The seasoning was mild but noticeable. Mary made her Russian Dressing and we gave her some of our homemade sauerkraut. She was a very happy birthday girl.


  • Lightly grinding the seasons provided a more even distribution. Need to grind the harder seeds first to break them up before adding the softer ones like mustard,
  • Cutting the diamonds into the fat before the cure allowed the cure and marinade to penetrate further and more quickly.
  • Not sure if the missing juniper berries made a difference but there did seem to be a different tone to the seasoning.
  • The May 5th cook was more flavorful. Maybe the thyme and juniper berries that were not in this cook, made the difference. Also, I had ground the seeds for this one and that made a difference. Maybe with them ground, some of the flavorful oils evaporated in the smoker.
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