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Wrench_H 08-16-2010 09:12 AM

First Pastrami - Questions
I brined my first pastrami last weekend and am planning to smoke it next weekend. I have a few questions though and any answers from folks who have done this before would be great.

1 - When I take the brisket out of the brine, how do I know it worked and the meat is cured? I'm guessing it will stink up the joint if if didn't work, is this correct? Are there any other signs to look out for? I don't want to make anyone sick

2 - Any recommendations on a rub to try for pastrami? I have plenty of rubs for BBQ that I make, but haven't really thought through a pastrami rub yet.

3 - I did a little research online, and the brine recipe I went with said to brine for two weeks, so currently that's the plan. Does this seem about right?

4 - Smoking - should I smoke this as I would a fresh brisket or does the curing cut out some of the cook time?

Thanks to all who may have some answers. I've wanted to do this for a while, but the curing/corning is way out of my comfort zone and I am most concerned with making anyone sick.

King 08-16-2010 10:16 AM

Here is my pastrami seasoning rub:
4 Tbsp coarse ground black pepper
2 Tbsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp granulated garlic
1 Tsp paprika
1 Tsp onion powder
½ Tsp thyme

MadCityJim 08-16-2010 11:36 AM

I did my first pastrami a month ago and have the second one 3 days in the brine so far. I did a bunch of research but only have done beef twice. But I've done 4 batches of pork belly bacon and 4-5 batches of back bacon.

1. I haven't had any meat spoil on me, but I hear you will know it by the smell.

2. King's Rub Sounds Great. The key ingredients are the pepper and the coriander. After that add what you like or think will taste good.

3. Brine time varied alot in my research too: 3 days to 3 weeks. But the general rule is that it depends on the concentration on the brine and how big a piece meat you are working with. I have a 4.5lb flat cut in the fridge that's maybe 2-2.5 inches thick at the thickest. I'm going pull it out of the brine Thursday and smoke it Friday cause that works for my schedule. But I'd guess that it would be cured in about 4 days. If it were a whole packer brisket, I'd let it go a minimum of 10 days. As long as your using a good brine, you can let it go longer. This is one of the ways they used to preserve the meat until it was needed for a meal. Before refrigeration, it might spend 3 weeks in the brine as a way to store it.

4. Traditionally the pastrami is steamed after smoking so you want to smoke it for 3-4 hours to 150 internal and then foil it to finish cooking it to 170 internal. Let it cool in the foil so the maximum amount of juices are reabsorbed. I run the smoker at 180-200 so that it will take a few hours to get the meat to 150. (same technique I use for bacon) After I foil it, I might put it into a 250 degree oven to finish. Last batch I actually steamed, but I think its easier to throw in the oven.

Wrench_H 08-16-2010 02:00 PM

King - thanks for the rub recommendation. I'll probably do a very similar variation of that.

MadCityJim - Thanks for all of the info. Mine is basically the same as yours, just a flat that if I remeber correctly weighed just over 5 lbs. I've had it in the brine for 8 days. It sounds like I might should pull it out soon. Is there any disadvantage to waiting until the weekend? Also, did you soak it after brining to remove any of the saltiness?

Theboz1419 08-16-2010 02:05 PM

could you not if you are not sure if its been cured long enough or to long. cut a peice off and fry in pan to taste it, you will see if its ok and if its ok to smoke or not.

TrustTheDust 08-16-2010 02:11 PM

I agree with MadCityJim, smoke to about 150 then foil and toss it in the oven. Keeping it moist is key.

MadCityJim 08-16-2010 02:50 PM

If you have the time to smoke it in the next day or 2, then pull it out of the brine and get to it. But it can certainly stay in the brine until the weekend. Remember to give yourself time to rinse it and taste it. (cook a small piece) If it's too salty, soak it for an hour or 2 and check again. I routinely soak my bacons for about 30 minutes and then get them back in the fridge for a day or 2 before I smoke. I'm hoping to make them less salty/sugary on the outside and more evenly cured and spiced throughout.
It's been working good so far.

chilidic 08-16-2010 03:24 PM

Here's a recipe I found on another site, not mine by any means I believe the originator is Habanero Smoker. I've used this a dozen times now and it makes fantastic pastrami.

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 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. In a small bowl, mix Morton Tender Quick, 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. Rub mixture into all sides of brisket, and work it in well (do not shake off any excess that is on the meat). I prepared a 5 ½ pound half flat (point end), used about ¾ of the mix, and the meat was fully cured.
  3. Next place brisket into a two gallon Ziploc bag; expel as much air as possible, and make sure the seal is secure. Refrigerate and allow to cure 4 days, turning the brisket over every 12 hours, or at least daily. After 4 days of curing, remove the brisket from the bag, and thoroughly rinse under cold running water. After rinsing, place the meat in a container and cover with cold water. Let the meat soak for 30 minutes, change the water, and let soak for another 30 minutes. This helps reduce the saltiness from the meat. Pat dry with paper towels and apply rub.
    • If your brisket weighs 7 pounds or more, or if it is under 7 Dry Rub 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.

      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. Apply the dry rub to the brisket generously, working the rub into the meat by pressing it in with the palms of your hands. Air dry in the refrigerator for 4 to 8 hours before before placing it in the smoker.
      2. Remove brisket from the refrigerator and place it on a tray, fat side down, and place in a pre-heated Smoker, at 220 degrees F. 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 degrees F. You can also use a smoking temperature of 250 degrees F.
      3. When the brisket reaches an internal temperature of 160 – 165 degrees F, take it out of the smoker. Wrap the brisket in one layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. 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 save. 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.

Wrench_H 08-19-2010 08:19 PM

I finally got around to putting it on the smoker this afternoon. I just hit 150 and wrapped it up for the final 20 degrees. King, I used your rub and it looks and smells great. I'll try to get some pics up here tomorrow. Thanks again to you all for your help, I'm looking forward to some sandwhiches this weekend.

Mad Max 08-19-2010 09:42 PM

I use Thirdeye's pastrami recipe and have been hooked on it, ever since. This is the link to his blog and recipe. http://playingwithfireandsmoke.blogs...-pastrami.html Maybe he will chime in, with some added advice. Make sure you post your pron.

Rookie'48 08-20-2010 12:05 AM

I've been doing about 2 or 3 pastramis every few weeks and my favorite pastrami rub is 2/3 Plowboys Bovine Bold & 1/3 course ground black pepper. As for the brining I can't help because I use corned beef points.

Wampus 08-20-2010 07:36 AM

BBQGRAIL helped me out last Saturday when I did mine (although mine was a store bought corned beef brisket that I soaked overnight and rubbed with a recipe like the one above). He recommended either steaming the whole pastrami after it cooled completely in the foil by putting in the oven (covered) in a roasting pan on a roast rack with about 1" water in the bottom of the pan. OR he said that he likes to steam the slices in the oven every time he carves.

I didn't end up bothering with steaming:roll:....I diced for hash and then just sliced for sammies, but it WAS a bit tough.

Sure would love to hear how this turned out for you. I will likely do this very soon.

RichardF 08-20-2010 08:43 AM


Originally Posted by chilidic (Post 1370793)
Here's a recipe I found on another site, not mine by any means I believe the originator is Habanero Smoker. I've used this a dozen times now and it makes fantastic pastrami.

that looks likes a recipe that's similar to one on virtual weber bullet. i've used the one from vwb a couple of times with great results. having both used a brine and the cure in that recipe i've had better results with the cure. i had one really large brisket where i did not let it cure long enough and had a holiday in the middle, but other than the color diffrence it was really not too much of an issue.

Wrench_H 08-20-2010 11:48 AM

3 Attachment(s)
Okay, here's the pics of the final product. I ended up soaking it in clean water for about 18 hours changing the water 3 times. I cooked it to 150 in the smoker between 225 and 250 and then foiled it hoping for around 170. After I foiled it, It went to 178 very quickly which was a little higher than I wanted. I'm not sure if that is the reason for the brownish color or if it just lost color in the brine. It would also be nice to have a deli slicer as it is hard to get it as thin as I would want. Those are the negatives, the positives are that it tasted great by itself and even better toasted on some rye bread with swiss cheese. I'll be having these sandwhiches all weekend. Next time I think I'll either try a dry cure or an already corned brisket, but I was pretty happy with this one for my first try. Thanks again to you all for your help.

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