Homemade Pastrami

I’ve been making homemade pastrami for years. I make what is commonly called ‘cheater’ pastrami, or ‘fauxstrami’ since I don’t start with a brisket, brine (or ‘corn’) it for ages and then smoke it. I cut to the chase and start with a corned beef brisket. The end result is absolutely fantastic. I load up on corned beefs any time they are on sale. My relatives and neighbors absolutely love it when I make pastrami. It’s a huge hit.
I took a slightly different approach than my traditional method and I’ve found this way to be even better than the old. You still get that slight peppery bite, but the pastrami-like flavor seems more pronounced and further penetrates the meat than when I use a more coarse spice grind.

Homemade Pastrami
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 corned beef
 
Note: I usually buy reduced sodium corned beef to make pastrami. If you have concerns over the amount of sodium, soak your brisket in cold water for 2 hours, replacing the water every 30 minutes.
Ingredients
  • 1 corned beef brisket (try to get a flat one that is consistent in thickness, such as a corned beef brisket flat)
  • 2 tablespoons (plus more, if needed) yellow mustard
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 3-4 tablespoons freshly ground pepper
Instructions
  1. Rinse and dry the corned beef.
  2. Whisk together the mustard, brown sugar, coriander and allspice. You want the mixture to be slightly wet so that it adheres to the meat. If it does not, add a bit more mustard and mix.
  3. 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.

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
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 pastrami
 
Ingredients
  • 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
Instructions
  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.