Cheater Pastrami

I love the week around St. Patrick’s Day. Not because I’m Irish or love the color green. No, it’s because corned beef briskets go on sale. And every year, I buy a big load of them and make cheater pastrami on my smoker. The end result is tender and very flavorful. Perfect for sandwiches. Almost beyond perfect.

Cheater Pastrami 3So why is this approach called ‘cheating’? Well, real pastrami takes a long time to make. You don’t start with a corned beef brisket out of the grocer’s fridge. I’ve had the most amazing pastrami in New York City. Here in Indianapolis, the closest I’ve found is at Shapiro’s Delicatessen (though I’ve heard that Fat Dan’s Deli is also great). This cheater version isn’t as good, of course, but it’s actually quite fantastic. All my neighbors will back me up on that.

I start out by rubbing corned beef in a mix of mustard, all spice, coriander and a lot of cracked pepper.

Cheater PastramiThe meat gets wrapped and goes into the fridge overnight to get ‘happy’.

Cheater PastramiThen onto the smoker at 225 F for about 8 hours or until the internal temperatures reach 195-205 F. Let them rest then slice then and enjoy!

Cheater PastramiThis recipe is a combination of a recipe I found on Patio Daddio and the technique on my favorite Weber Smoky-Mountain-related site, the Virtual Weber Bullet.

Cheater Pastrami
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 pastrami
  • 1 corned beef brisket (try to get a flat, one that is consistent in thickness)
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon coarse-ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3-4 tablespoons freshly coarse-ground pepper
  1. Note: I buy coriander seeds and whole peppercorns from the local GFS store and grind them using an old blade-style coffee grinder. Make sure you keep the grind a little coarse. You can also use a mortar and pestle.
  2. Rinse and dry the corned beef.
  3. Whisk together the mustard, brown sugar, coriander and allspice. Rub the mixture all over the brisket, then cover completely with the ground pepper. Place in a large resealable bag or wrap tightly in foil and keep in the fridge overnight.
  4. The next day, fire up your smoker for 225-250 F. Place a chunk or two of light fruit wood in the smoker (I used cherry). Cook the brisket for at least 8 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 195 - 205 F.
  5. Remove, wrap in foil, and let rest for 30 minutes.
  6. Thinly slice the brisket against the grain using a meat slicer or sharp knife. Serve.

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