Pastrami, The Most Sensual of the Salt Cured Meats!

Okay, it’s official! I’m back to cooking.  You can probably guess from the title that I’ve made my own pastrami as well as ripped off another Seinfeld episode.  Needless to say, I’ve been watching a lot of Seinfeld reruns lately.  After a month on the injured reserve list I wanted my comeback cook to be spectacular. What is more spectacular than a big ol brisket?  A brisket that has been cured and smoked, a.k.a. PASTRAMI!!

Homemade Pastrami

Homemade pastrami is actually really easy, but does take a few days.  First step in making pastrami is preparing the brine.  I start with a large stock pot and add all the brine ingredients.  Bring the water to a boil, stirring occasionally until the salt and sugars have dissolved.  Allow the brine to cool completely before adding the brisket.

The Brine
1 gallon of water
1 1/2 cups of kosher or pickling salt
1 cup of sugar
6 teaspoons of pink curing salt
1/2 packed cup of dark brown sugar
1/2 cup of honey
5 cloves of garlic, minced

While the  brine is cooling it’s time to prep the brisket.  To save a little time I started with a 7 lb flat cut that was already trimmed.  The brisket had a thin fat cap that I removed as well. I placed the brisket in the bucket and filled it with the brine, covered it and placed it in the fridge for 3 days.  After 3 days of brining, I removed the brisket and rinsed it thoroughly with cold water, then patted it dry.

To season the pastrami, I made a rub of 3 tablespoons of black pepper and 2 tablespoons of ground coriander.  I gave each side a generous coating of the rub.  I then placed the brisket on a rack and set it in a roasting pan.

Coated with Coriander & Black Pepper

I smoked the brisket uncovered for 3 hours at 200º.  I really wanted to get a good smoke on it, so I tried to keep the heat low and let the meat get as much smoke as possible.  After 3 hours the internal temperate was 150º and it was time for the steam.

Pastrami after smoking

I filled the roasting pan with about an inch of water, covered it with a large piece of foil and sealed the edges to keep the steam in.  I opened up the vents on the Big Green Egg to get the temp up to around 300º and let the pastrami steam.  After 2 1/2 hours, the pastrami was done, the internal temp was 200º.

Steaming the Pastrami

While I was cooking the pastrami, Mrs AlbuKirky was kind enough to bake up a couple of loaves of rye bread that made for some fantastic sandwiches.

Fresh Rye Bread

For my first sandwich I keep it simple, a fresh slice of rye bread, a few thick slices of pastrami and a generous smear of course ground mustard.  There was nothing simple about the flavors from this sandwich.  The pastrami was very rich and peppery, the caraway seed from the soft rye bread, and the tangy mustard was the perfect compliment.  Sometimes simple is better.

Sandwich #1 The Purist

My 2nd sandwich was a little more rubenesque.  I added a slice of cheese and some sauerkraut made by my sister in law, Trissi.  It was absolutely fantastic.

Sandwich #2 The Rubenesque

So that’s it folks, my homemade pastrami.  I had been planning on cooking this for over a month and it came out better than I expected.  Although it a took a few more days than a regular barbecued brisket it wasn’t any more difficult.  So what do you think, am I back or what??

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