I made Pastrami!

Lately, I have been spending a lot of time at my smoker. I am new to the hobby, and my results are getting better. This weekend I had planned on a nice smoked brisket. I picked up a four pound flat. I rubbed it with fresh ground pepper, Kosher salt, onion powder, garlic powder and smoked paprika and let it sit in the fridge overnight.

This morning, I brought my offset smoker up to temp and laid my brisket tenderly on the grate. I smoked it with hickory and apple wood until it hit 170 degrees IT. I wrapped it in foil and continued on to 207 IT. It was as tender as could be. I wrapped it in a towel and put it in a cooler to rest for a couple of hours.

When I sliced it, it looked strange. I am used to a nice bright smoke ring with nice medium rare brisket in the middle. This was red all the way through. It was very tasty.

I did some research and realized that I had purchased a brisket marked “Brisket Flat for Corned Beef.” It was already Corned Beef. When I added seasoning and smoked it for six hours or so, I turned it into Pastrami.

I am now eating a pastrami and swiss sandwich on rye with pastrami i made myself…

They just had a segment on homemade pastrami (or ‘Faux Montreal Smoked Meat’, as the originator of this recipe calls it) on KPLU’s Food For Thought. Commentator Dick Stein said it tasted just like the actual smoked pastrami he had as a kid from Katz’s Deli in New York.

The text on the page is for the recipe. Click on ‘Listen’ to hear Dick Stein and Nancy Leson discuss it.


¡No hay problema!

I just listened to the story again, and read the comments.

I may have to try this recipe sometime myself!

My pastrami

Oh, my!

[checks location]


Wasn’t the brisket noticeably pink/red from brining? This is from use of sodium nitrite. You can make a corned beef or pastrami with regular salt, but I’ve never seen a commercially packaged corned beef or final product that didn’t use sodium nitrite and the fact that your finished brisket was pink throughout after cooking almost certainly assures that it was brined with sodium nitrite. I’m surprised you didn’t notice this when you bought it.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with this and I’ve considered smoking a ready made corned brisket myself, I just haven’t done so yet. I’ve done a few brisket flats from the grocery store and one full packer (flat plus point) American Wagyu brisket from Snake River Farms. That was 14 pounds and the biggest cut I ever smoked. It was expensive, but pretty goddamned delicious, I have to say.

I gave a pound of it to a friend from work and he offered to buy another full brisket from SRF for a portion of the results. He asked for a third but I’m going to give him at least half. He opted for the Gold Grade brisket at 11-14 pounds and they shipped a 19 POUND BRISKET that I will smoke next weekend. Holy shit, this thing is enormous. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a bit intimidated by this monster, especially considering the fact that somebody else paid for it.

On preview: “Pink Curing Salt” mentioned in Johnny LA’s link is salt with 6.25% sodium nitrite. It’s pretty much required for what most people in North America would consider corned beef or pastrami.

Jake, I did not know what to look for. This is just my second brisket. I will know what to look for next time

Fair enough. I wasn’t criticizing. If anything, “Brisket flat for Corned Beef” is very misleading. If it’s already brined, it’s not for corned beef, it is corned beef!

Anyway, you got some good grub out of it. That’s the important thing.

True enough. The meat was really tasty.

Looking at your photos, that’s an unusual cut for brisket. The flat is usually, well, flat. Yours looks more like a loaf. Again, I’m not being critical, just curious. I sure as hell won’t tell Nebraska how to cut their beef.

Also out of curiosity, if you don’t mind sharing, how much do you pay for brisket there? In Western NY, I pay about $6.50/lb for corned beef and $7.50/lb for regular USDA Choice brisket flats. People in California tell me they get full packer briskets of USDA Prime at $3/lb. I pretty much just shop at Wegmans, and they don’t sell full packer briskets.

$10/lb for American Wagyu probably sounds insane in Omaha, but it’s only an incremental increase here. As such, I mostly smoke pork shoulder at $1.50/lb.

Jake: I bought that at the local grocery store for 4.49 a pound. It looked like an odd cut, but it was about the right size.

Pork shoulder is normally 2.50 a pound or so here. St. Louis ribs are about the same

Interesting. That’s about what I might expect in price difference. Full packers are generally less $/lb than flats, but $3/lb for Prime cuts seems really low.

When I say “people from California tell me” I really mean “people from the internet who live in California tell me” but I’ve seen the price labels. From Costco, but still. They recently opened a Costco here. I guess I need to go check out their beef prices.

Also interesting. Pork shoulder here was $2.49/lb when I started smoking last summer. It’s been consistent at $1.49/lb all of this year. St. Louis cut ribs and full spares (if you can find them) are well over that. A full rack of either will run $10-15 here, about $4-5/lb I guess.

Costco has some good prices here, but I am working on how to deal with the volume. There are four of us, and I don’t need to buy four racks of ribs at a time. I need a better freezer…

:dubious: Very funny, very funny. Everybody knows you can’t make pastrami, it has to be planted and cultivated in delicatessen bins, like God intended!

Hey, don’t belittle our beliefs! Like, we believe pastrami comes from dead cows!

Here in Chicago, I’ve seen prime packers of brisket at Costco about a month ago for $3.79/lb, and choice at Walmart for $2.79/lb. That’s the cheapest I’ve seen brisket in a good year or so.

Damn, I’ve probably done more than 100 briskets, but never tried pastrami. Now, I desperately want to try pastrami.

So, basically I brine the hell out of it before I spice it, and get a small cut, right?