Skip to main content


I've got the brisket in the smoker right now. I corned it myself and am using the dls method (will this take hold like the GLH method?) to the "T" including steaming it.

I lived in Buffalo, NY for 2.5 years (we had a record 140" of snow my first year), but it did have its benefits including wonderful people and the New York style deli'(also the original chicken wings and "beef on a weck"). They don't have any of those great deli's in California. Not even close. My wife thought we'd make a great success starting one out here, but I didn't want to work that hard. I respect you restaurateurs and caterers.

But back to the subject at hand. I'm sure the non steamed pastrami tastes great, but once you try the New York style you've just got to get it again (flying back to New York just seems a bit expensive for a pastrami sandwich). So dls, if you've come close with your procedure. My hat's off to you. I can't wait to try it.

If it's close to the real thing (sure it is if dls says so) and I don't screw it up, it will be on the menu along with brisket, pulled pork, salmon, smoked turkey, and pig candy when the Chicago contingent comes out for 10 days this May. I can't wait for the company or for the pastrami (Reuben Sandwiches).

So much to do and so little time. I still have to smoke a lamb meat loaf and make my own anchiote paste for pulled pork. This smoking thing's become a nice hobby.
Last edited by pags
Having lived in NYC for most of my life I acquired a love for pastrami. When we moved down to FL I could not find anything locally to match the pastrami in NYC.

I had one of those birthday things last month and my wife surprised me by having 2 lbs. of pastrami from Katz's in NYC shipped down to us. It was great but at $23.75 lb plus shipping not an option for to meet my continuing craving for pastrami.

Somebody here posted a link to this recipe.

I tried it twice with outstanding results. I now have two pending request from fellow NYC transplants to make some for them
OK. Here's the feedback on the pastrami. It had a great flavor and beautiful color, but when slicing, it tended to fall apart. It was more like pulled pastrami than sliced pastrami. So somewhere along the line I overcooked it.

It was a pretty thin brisket, so maybe after smoking it for roughly 8 hrs, the 4 hrs of steaming was just too much. I also cut across the grain and maybe this time I should have sliced with the grain. Wonder if the left overs will go well in Smokin's beans.

I've seen deli pastrami that's 6-7" tall. I've not seen flats that thick, so what am I missing?

I'm doing this again though with a taller/thicker brisket if I can find it. Maybe a little less time in the steam.
Well. My daughter has been eating shredded pastrami all day long. Says it tastes great. I golfed, so I came home to a couple Reuben sandwiches. They were very good, and the swiss cheese held the pieces of pastrami in place. So the recipe is good, I just need to adjust the cook time to allow for the thinner flat, if you will.

I'm still trying to figure out how some deli pastrami can be 5-6" tall/thick when my brisket flats are maybe 1.5-2". Anyone notice this or am I just missing something?
We weight it twice per directions, and both times I placed the meat into a pan with a glass pan on top of the meat and a panini weight inside the glass pan. Not as heavy as 4 or 5 bricks.

The brisket flat was relatively thin. I smoked it for 8 hrs and took it out at 162*. It never got out of the plateau. Lastly, I steamed it for 4 hrs. Could have just over cooked it. Sliced against the grain.
I don't know about the texture problem, since you're weighing it down and everything. Sorry I can't be more helpful.

If you really have a need for pastrami, I've corned chuck rolls before. They're so thick you'll have to inject the meat, but I do this even on packers now after getting one that was brown inside. The injection assures that it cures all the way through. There a lot of info on the forum about chuck rolls BTW.
I've tried making pastrami using store bought corned beef (both point and flats) and it turns out pretty good. Once I corned a half flat myself and it tasted pretty similar. Both were comparable to what you'd get a deli, although maybe not as good as some of the best delis (my reference is Langer's in downtown LA).

As far as the large pastramis, I've seen in grocery store delis, it's often a round roast that is used for pastrami. It's a lot leaner than a brisket.
This is the fourth time I have used a precorned beef brisket to make pastrami. They get common this time of year St. Patty's day and you can usually get them at a pretty good price. I have done flats, points and packers. The point I did last year was a little fatty but boy did it taste good. I followed Mainly Dave's recipe. It tended to fall apart rather than slice. The flat was a lot leaner and I cooked it to about 185 and it sliced very nicely. I did a packer last year and it was the best pastrami I have made. It must have been the cut because this year my packer came out dry, so I sliced it real thin on my slicer and drizzed just a little olive oil on it and wrapped it tightly in foil in the frig. Made a mighthy good reuben last night. I'll use it for friends tonight. If you are not doing these and you like pastrami you should give them a try. I think maybe some of the best that I do.
Originally posted by Pags:
My wife picked up two precorned beef briskets @ $2.47/lb. so I can attempt smoking some pastrami again next week.
Pags, I also picked up a large pre-corned flat on sale for this w/e. Was wondering what rub you used and if you planned to change. I have used the peppercorn/coriander crushed mix and am looking for something where cracked pepper isn't the main attraction. I've have some fine pastrami in the best deli's (north and south)and don't recall so much cracked pepper. Was looking at something like this. Thoughts?
I just did a corned beef with the coriander/pepper/gran garlic rub and it came out pretty good with one exception. I only soaked it for an hour and a half and it came out pretty salty. Next time I will soak for 2 hours, then change the water and soak for another two hours. Saw that suggestion (change water) in another recipe.
After a brutal series of business trips over the past 2 weeks, I'm finally grounded for a few days and thought I would jump in to this revival of the pastrami topic.

Pags - Sorry about your results with the texture, but, as I see it, pulled pastrami is better than no pastrami or the standard crap you find in most delis. To me, the leftovers sound like an ideal ingredient for a killer hash.

I can only assume that you steamed it too long. You mentioned that you pulled it from the smoker at 162°, but you don't mention the temp after 4 hours of steaming. You also don't mention the size or weight of the brisket before you started smoking and steaming.

When steaming, I go to 180° - 185° max. Also, as no 2 briskets are alike, the same holds for ovens. I would recommend checking the texture each hour when steaming. When it feels right, pull it and sample a small piece. You can always to continue steaming if you need to.

I don't know how heavy your glass pan and panini weights were. Depending on the size of the brisket, I use 2 or 3 foil wrapped standard bricks. If I remember correctly, each brick weighs around 5 pounds.

SoCal55 is correct in the tall or thick pastrami you referred to is cap off top round. It's what you commonly find in the large mainstream grocery chain delis. For the same size serving, it has fewer calories, less fat, sodium, carbs, etc than brisket. It also has less taste. I once asked the deli manager at a Publix super market in Sarasota, FL (where Boar's Head Meats are headquarted) why they did not carry pastrami made from brisket. His simple reply was "little or no demand". Most of his customers assumed that all pastrami came from top round.

Socal55 is also correct about Langer's deli in LA. Their pastrami easily stands up to the top delis in NYC. It's the best that I have ever found west of the Hudson river. Everything else that I have tried in "Flyover Country" has been pretty dismal. Langer's slices their pastrami thicker than most places so, as I understand it, they smoke it less, and steam it longer than normal to tenderize it.

In as far as using pre-cured (corned} beef, I use them on occasion when I have time constraints, and don't have one that I have cured myself in the freezer. I get a CB flat, around 7 pounds, in a cryo bag from my butcher, rinse it well to remove the blood and spices, then soak it in a couple of changes of water for about 3 hours. I then dry it, apply the rub, and proceed as normal. It works fine.
Last edited by dls
Pags, once again you've got me off the couch to cook something Big Grin

Smoked a pre-corned flat today. This cut fairly large, from the middle of brisket with that small layer of fat in the middle. This is my 4th attempt at shortcut pastrami. My 1st was ok but almost too peppery to eat. For 2nd and 3rd try I only put coarse peppercorn/coriander/garlic blend on the lean side and was overall pleased with results. Still not much flavor beyond CB and pepper.

Today I used a different rub that had pepper as secondary ingredient with ginger, coriander, brown sugar, garlic and allspice. Run spice mix thru grinder for med fine. Soaked CB, dried and coated heavy with spice mix. Cellophaned tightly and left in fridge for 24hrs. Smoked @225* with oak. Rested, chilled and sliced thin.

To serve I microwaved cold slices on plate covered with damp paper towel for 60s. "Short cut" steaming.

Best so far. For first time it didn't taste like peppered corn beef. I can't find pastrami better than this for sale in my area. Smoke flavor was mild but distinct.

Next time I might leave cello'd CB in fridge for 48 hours with spice mix.

Still plan to corn my own for comparison some day... when I've finish tweaking shortcut pastrami and have more time on my hands.
dls (and redoakNC). Evidently, you know your pastrami. Thanks for the information(I may go pick up a couple bricks). I think I over steamed since I steamed to time not temp. Duh! Seems like I could transfer some smoking knowledge to the oven. Cook to temp not time! It's done when it's done!

I'm going to try the shortcut method next time with the pre cured corn beef (in the fridge now). I'm saving my remaining shredded pastrami for Smokin's BBQ Beans.
dls ... how does your dry cure for corning the brisket differ from the recipe for your wet cure earlier in the thread? Your wet cure was the one I used when I tried corning some brisket myself and it worked great (I used a 2 gal plastic zip bag instead of a pan, took up less space in the refrigerator). When you dry cure, is the meat coated with the cure and then sealed in a plastic bag or just placed in a covered pan? Thanks!
Originally posted by socal55:
dls ... how does your dry cure for corning the brisket differ from the recipe for your wet cure earlier in the thread? Your wet cure was the one I used when I tried corning some brisket myself and it worked great (I used a 2 gal plastic zip bag instead of a pan, took up less space in the refrigerator). When you dry cure, is the meat coated with the cure and then sealed in a plastic bag or just placed in a covered pan? Thanks!

socal55 - It's been a while since I have used a dry cure and, I don't have the recipe handy but, it's basically the same ingredients, minus the honey. As I recall, I also include 6 -7 crumbled bay leaves and substituted a couple of teaspoons of garlic powder for the minced garlic cloves.

While the dry cure method is considered the traditional method for pastrami, I've used the wet cure or brine method for the past year or so. I find it difficult to get a perfect application with a dry cure resulting in certain areas of the piece of meat having a greater concentration of the cure than others. Also, to do a dry cure correctly, you need to do multiple applications. Finally, to me at least, a good dry cure takes 2 or 3 times longer than a wet cure. Some people state that they can dry cure a piece of meat the size of a brisket in 3 or 4 days. That kind of baffles me.

A comment from Michael Ruhlman's latest cookbook "Ratio" pretty much sums up my current way of thinking:

"Turning salt into liquid makes it an effective tool because it touches 100% of the food's surface in a uniform manner. Salt has to dissolve before it can work its magic, so using dry salt is less quick, and less controlled, than using a brine".

That said, when doing either a dry or wet cure, I use a large clear plastic lidded container that just fits the lower shelf of a second storage refrigerator that I have in my basement. When doing a wet cure, I sometimes put the meat into the container and cover with the brine, and other times I will put everything into a large plastic bag which then goes into the container. For dry curing, I put a small bakers cooling rack, with 1.5" legs into the container and put the brisket on top of it. The height of the rack keeps the brisket out of the liquid that it loses.
I'm not dls, and I've only done 2 pastramis scratch from brisket...all others have been from precorned beef. All have been from flats although points work as well. I just prefer less fat.

If it were me, I'd separate the point and flat. That's a lot of meat for the brine to penetrate. Separating would aid in this effort.

I also think the brine won't penetrate the fat between the point and flat, so trim it to allow brine to enter the meat from both sides.
pulplip fiction - When I make pastrami, the majority of the time I use flats in the 7 lb range. On the few occasions when I've used whole packers they've been in the 13-15 lb range and will simply not fit in my smoker (08) without folding. I've separated the point and the flat following the brine and smoked them with the point on the top rack and the flat on a lower, monitoring the IT of each piece. Both pieces are cooked fat side down. It works fine

Below is a pic of a pastrami I made a while back following the smoke and overnight weighting. I steamed one piece and froze the other for later use.

Good luck.


Images (1)
  • pas1

Add Reply

Link copied to your clipboard.