We didn’t buy this at the deli pastrami

Never buying store brand again

We’ve had this beauty in our freezer since before Saint Patty’s Day. Each year, I fancy myself Irish for a day, at least the Americanized corned beef-eating, Guinness-drinking version. (You should really click that last link, it’s an actual picture of me drinking Guinness in Dublin.) Since our freezer space is at a premium and I’m always looking for new things to smoke, new meaty things that is, I had a eureka moment one day when I opened the freezer and saw the corned beef package. Why not make Pastrami? The result was rather tasty and surpassed anything I have bought in the store. That said the pre-brined brisket, which are just fine when boiled, was a tad too salty and when I make it again, I’ll brine it myself. Unless I happen to stock up again next March on corned beef. Anyway, this turned out wonderfully, we served it with some rye bread and homemade sauerkraut. Not my recipe, but a great one from Katherine’s sister we plan to try. I was making tasty sandwiches all week and, spoiler alert, even whipped up a corned beef hash with the leftovers. Which tastes much better with the smoked pastrami.

If you need instructions on smoking meat or just want to see my rather impressive grill, click here. When smoking pastrami, the goal is to get as much smoke permeation as possible before the meat has cooked. That means a very low heat for the fire and high quality wood. I was able to smoke the meat for six hours before its temperature reached 150 degrees. Next time, I am going to try for nine hours.

I plan to use the brine from Charcuterie, which I’ve listed, for the next batch. The recipe below is for a roughly four-pound brisket.

For Brine

  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 1/2 cups salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 tsp pink peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp pickling spice
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 5 garlic cloves minced

Combine brine ingredients in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil and stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Then refrigerate until chilled. Place the beef in the brine and place a plate on top to keep it submerged, refrigerate for three days. Remove from the brine, rinse and dry. Discard brine. Coat the beef evenly with the peppercorn mixture.

For peppercorn crust

  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp white peppercorns
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Crush all ingredients with a mallet or bottom of frying pan. It will get messy if you are too forceful. Roll corned beef in mixture and smoke.

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About Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide

This blog attempts to collect some of the things I try to create with food and booze. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail. My hope is to entertain and maybe help people think a little harder about what they decide to eat and drink.
This entry was posted in Beef, Dinner, Food, Grilling/Smoking, Recipes and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

61 Responses to We didn’t buy this at the deli pastrami

  1. joe p. says:

    So you thawed out a st. Pattys day corned beef, then crusted it, and smoked it? Brilliant! I. Was hoping to get into some smoking this summer, maybe this will be the ticket.

  2. That is insane! I wouldn’t buy deli pastrami anymore either! Extremely impressed!

  3. rutheh says:

    Wowee wow! I am forwarding the link to your recipe to my son’s father-in-law as he does all things MEAT and smoking is right up his alley. You would like his homemade Kielbasa and other sausages. Serious meat! Looks just inviting. I hope he will make it when I visit.

  4. changingmoods says:

    That looks better than any deli pastrami I’ve ever seen. Looks great!

  5. Charles says:

    Silly question, but I suppose there are no alternatives to smoking the meat, are there? This looks amazing – like it’s straight out of a gourmet deli, but way better even, and I do love me a good sandwich filled with decent sliced meats, but living in an apartment makes owning (and especially operating, lol) a smoker just a bit hard :(

    • With this cut of meat, probably not. I’ve seen people braise others or slow cook them in the oven, but I don’t know that this would do that well. I bet they have fantastic cured and smoked meats where you are though.

      • Charles says:

        “I bet they have fantastic cured and smoked meats where you are though.”

        Pft, well, I guess that’s largely a matter of personal opinion :) We have a whole myriad different meats with various things inside like nuts and whatnot, but to be honest, I’m really not a huge fan of pork-based cured meats. I had one once which was made with wild boar which was really quite good, but stuff like parma ham I find a bit boring. Thin and greasy and chewy. I probably come off as a real heathen, but I really adore really good honey-roast ham, decent roasted, sliced beef, and similar things such as pastrami… I mean, look at the picture above – a big slab of pink, tender, delicious pastrami. I’m dreaming of a 12-inch sub roll right now with some mayo, lettuce, fresh tomato, olives, cucumber, some decent cheese, and a mound of this magical stuff!

      • A heathen? I think you’re in good company here!

  6. rsmacaalay says:

    I haven’t tried smoking meats yet but I have seen it done here with fish. I love it that you make a lot of homemade stuff that you can pickup usually in the deli, like your sausage post.

  7. ambrosiana says:

    I really have to thank you for this recipe!!! Even though we do get smoked cured meat in Italy, we do not get smoke pastrami here!!! I always wondered how meat was smoked!! There are many Honduran recipes that include smoked meat, so this recipe arrives in perfect timing!!.

  8. I am surprised the deli’s aren’t knocking at your door! Magnificent!

  9. That’s beautiful.

  10. i’ve actually never tried to make pastrami before it never really passed my mind. Now, you’ve just opened up a whole world of meat curing to me! i’m definitely going to start getting addicated to this!

  11. Sissi says:

    So this is what pastrami looks like! (I have only heard or read about it, never seen it, not to mention tasting it). Your peppercorn crust looks like it could be used also for oven roasts (by the those who have no chance of smoking meat…).
    Impressing grill! If I had it I would spend all my days smoking meat and sausages :-)

  12. Maureen says:

    I can’t believe you made that. Okay I believe it but seriously, I can’t believe you made that – it looks fantastic!!! You could make this a business!

  13. ChefMom says:

    Hubby is sitting her with me reading and I think you’ve given him his next meat to smoke. He’s drooling…This does look seriously good.

  14. Wow. I do not know which is better, the actual photo or savoring it! Looks absolutely delicious.

    btw…sent an email question about a post a while back : )

  15. Christina says:

    Ok…this seriously looks amazing!! I love the peppercorn crust! :D

  16. Ginger says:

    Beautiful photograph! It looks delicious!

  17. You could have fooled me. It looks so professional, so good so rich and perfect that one would assume you bought it. Amazing Amazing job! I am seriously impressed

  18. spicegirlfla says:

    I’m definitely impressed with your grill and even more so with this pastrami! Look at you making this deli famous meat! It’s perfectly done, the color is gorgeous! I know I could not do this but I wish I could stop by for a taste!!

  19. Well, we have not used our smoker in maybe 2 weeks and I think my husband is already having withdrawals. Good thing we just happened to pick up a little brisket at the market this past weekend because I think we just may have to do this recipe this weekend. Looks amazing!

  20. Carolyn Chan says:

    I don’t have any of the things you need for this dish but thanks for letting me live vicariously through your post – looks AMAZING !

  21. TasteFood says:

    Looks amazing – I love smoked meat!

  22. I LOVE pastrami. I just love it and can’t get enough of it here. My favorite pairings are Pastrami on rye with coleslaw and Russian dressing. Yes I know my sandwich may be complicated but it’s so good. Now I’m second guessing my lunch LOL.

  23. Caroline says:

    Woah, that looks way too delicious. I tried my first Carnegie Deli pastrami sandwich in NY last year and oh boy was it yummy. My dad would love your choice of side dish by the way (sauerkraut). I’ve actually yet to try it though, as the smell always steers me away and stinks up our house. He usually only makes it once a year though, so hopefully I’m not visiting home when he makes it!! Haha

  24. eva626 says:

    the outside crust with peppercorns looks so good!!! and yea when i make home made foods (like my yummy pizza) i never go back to store bought stuff…its just a waste of money and taste and space (in your stomache).

  25. Holly says:

    So is there anything you don’t do food wise?
    You are a cooking machine!!

  26. egg me on says:

    Bravo! I am totally, completely 100% impressed. I need a pastrami sandwich right now. AND, I want to see your corned beef hash. Bet it was great!

  27. I’m impressed. I’m going to forwared this post to my friend, he’s going to love it. I never tried making pastrami or smoked meats. one day I’ll get to it!

  28. This looks amazing – you are convincing me (quite easily I might add) that I really NEED a smoker!

  29. Kelly says:

    Impressive grill indeed – wow, I didn’t realize bird that colour was edible! Clearly a fool :) Love the peppercorn crust!

  30. Wow! This looks amazing. I just ate dinner yet this is making me hungry.

  31. Korena says:

    I bet that makes a mean sandwich!

  32. SimpleP says:

    I’ve gotta admire your moxey when it comes to cooking. Not many would take on a pastrami. Nicely done!

  33. oh my! what my dad wouldn’t do for this..he LOVES pastrami so much

  34. This looks so good and with homemade sauerkraut to accompany it. WOW. I could have me some of that!

  35. I am sure that photo is food porn. So not fair to have to look at that beautiful corned beef and not dig in!

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  37. Joanne says:

    I’m SO glad you posted this!!! I love pastrami but it always has so many preservatives and scary chemicals at the store. YAY Thank you!

  38. This will be a great use of my Coriander seeds I harvested from the Cilantro earlier. Great idea!

  39. wee eats says:

    i’ve been wanting to make pastrami for some time now, i just can’t bring myself to do it! some things just make me tired thinking about them… maybe you can send me some of yours? :)

  40. Jodi Stone says:

    Corned beef dosen’t last that long in my house. :-)

  41. I am sooo jealous you have a good quality smoker. I tried to smoke ham once on our barbie but the woodchips would just not light enough to turn charcoal and smoke :-( Off to check out your barbecue set up for hints… Oh and I had learnt to make sauerkraut in primary school – but never liked the jar pickled variety as the traditional wooden barrel one.

  42. boogie. says:

    that looks extremely mouthwatering! definitely looks professionally made

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  45. I absolutely LOVE pastrami, and we have a Traeger pellet stove that smokes. I think I am going to have to try this recipe very soon! It never occurred to me to make my own pastrami, but why not? Thanks for the inspiration. Peace, Linda

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