Apologies... I can't answer any of your questions but have a couple of my own.
When you buy brisket around St. Patrick's Day, are you getting them already cured or curing your own. (I would think that corned beef is what would be on sale then.) Or do you start with corned beef and cure it further before you smoke it?
I thought that pastrami was simply store bought corned beef that was smoked but now I'm wondering if that's correct.
Free bump anyway. ;)