Tips from the Pros: Homemade Pastrami

October 9, 2012

Having spent the last twenty years of my life in New York, I know and love a good pastrami sandwich. Now anyone can enjoy that intense, unique flavor with this recipe from

homemade pastrami strips

For this week’s grilling and barbecue adventure I decided that I would make my own pastrami.  Being from New York and Jewish I know the importance of a good homemade pastrami sandwich.

Brining – Out of all the steps I must say that this was the most nerve racking part of the process. The reason why I say this is because I obviously didn’t want to get my guests sick. The most important part of brining is that you must make sure that you add the correct amount of salt to the solution. The salt will keep the meat “preserved” and will ward off any bacteria.

For the brine I did a lot of research on the best ingredients and found out that I was right on the money with them. Using whole peppercorns, garlic, brown sugar, thyme, bay leaves and others provided a perfect balance of flavors. As the days went on, I think that I got so caught up in the brining that I forgot the most important ingredient: Curing salt. If I had added this ingredient I would have gotten the color of the meat that I was really looking for.   Curing salt serves to inhibit the growth of bacteria, specifically to prevent botulism, and most importantly it helps preserve the color of cured meat.

Smoking:  After brining the meat for approximately 5 days, it was time to smoke the meat. This part of the adventure was the easiest. It felt like very similar to just smoking a brisket. But before I placed the meat into the smoker, I did rub the meat with some classic pastrami flavors: coriander seeds, peppercorns, mustard seeds and more.  I think that there were the same challenges when you smoke a piece of brisket for competitions or just to enjoy on a weekend. I brought my smoker up to 250 degrees and added no “flavored” woods. What was different in making the pastrami, is I didn’t add any injection to the beef. Because it was brined over a long period of time, the meat was extra moist and therefore there was no need to add any injections.

Overall: Overall, I think that the pastrami turned out great, but I think that there is room for improvements the next time that I try to make homemade pastrami. I also think that the next time I do in fact try this adventure, I am going to try to figure out how to slice the meat very thin so that you really get that kosher deli sandwich feel to the meal. If I only had a meat slicer….


◦   For the Brine:

◦   2 T whole peppercorns

◦   1 and 1/2 T dry thyme

◦   3 T crumbled bay leaves

◦   2 tsp whole cloves

◦   1/4 cup of minced garlic

◦   16 cups of water

◦   3/4 cup of brown sugar

◦   3/4 cup of kosher salt

◦   Rub

◦   Brown Sugar

◦   1/4 cup kosher salt

◦   1/4 cup paprika

◦   3 tablespoons coriander seeds

◦   3 tablespoons brown sugar

◦   2 tablespoons black peppercorns

◦   2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds

◦   1 tablespoon white peppercorns

◦   8 cloves garlic, minced



1. Using the above brine ingredients combine into a large pot, and completely submerge the meat in the brine.

2. Brine the brisket for approximately 3-7 days.

3. Once you remove the brisket from the brine, rinse the meat with some cold water, and then using paper towels pat down the meat until it is completely dry.

4. Combine the above rub ingredients and completely pat down the brisket with the rub until the meat is completely covered.

5. Get your smoker temperature up to 250 – 270 degrees and smoke the meat for approximately one hour per pound until you hit 189 degrees

Rest for 30 – 60 minutes and then cut and serve.



Related Topics: Bbq Advice | Bbq Tips | Brining | Brisket Recipe | Editor's Picks | Grilling Advice | Grilling Tips | | How To Make Pastrami | How To Smoke Pastrami | How To's | Pastrami | Pastrami Recipe | Smoked Brisket Recipe | Tips From The Pros

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