Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Homemade Pastrami

My goal in life lately has been to get to the point where Cowgirl( will be jealous of my food, rather than vice-versa. She is definitely the one I admire the most of any of the cooking bloggers I have seen, hands-down.
After making a number of batches of corned beef, I wanted to take it one step further and make pastrami. This is another project where plannning comes into play, for the brining of the meat takes 2-3 weeks.

I would have used a beef brisket, but have found some lesser-quality (cheaper!) cuts do fairly well too. I bought a very cheap 2.5 lb beef round roast at about $1.50 lb, since I have NO qualms about buying the roasts that are marked down in their last day in the grocery store.)
Next you brine and spice the roast in a freezer bag in the fridge for a couple weeks. For this, see my post "Corned Beef" dated 10/22/2008.
After that has brined for 2 or 3 weeks, I put it in a bowl of cold water to remove some of the salt for 30-60 minutes.

Then I added a generous amount of rub. The recipe I followed, for this 'small' 2.5 lb roast, was:
2.5 T kosher or canning salt
2 T paprika (cowgirl would've had the paprika already smoked!
1.5 T coriander seeds
1.5 T brown sugar
1 T black peppercorns
1 T yellow mustard seeds
1/2 T white peppercorns
8 cloves garlic, minced
Grind all this together in your spice or coffee grinder, then rub this all over the meat, being very generous with the amount you use. I've read articles that state that rubs aren't really rubbed in, its just called a rub. Meadow-muffins, rub that stuff into the meat.

My goal was to smoke this for about 4-5 hours, but after 2 hours the wind REALLY kicked up. This really robs the heat from my bullet-smoker, and I had to improvise. I read some articles online about making pastrami in the kitchen oven, and had to employ this after the meat was smoked for 2 hours.
With the wind ruining my plans, I wrapped it up twice in heavy-duty aluminum foil and placed it in a 225 oven. I baked it this way for 3.5 more hours. After it cooled somewhat I placed it in the fridge overnight.
The next morning, I was astounded at how good this looked. I took a thinly-sliced pieces and steamed them for about 30 minutes (many restaurants steam them for 4-5 hours) and tasted it.
It wasnt the most lean, tender meat in the world but you didn't notice because the flavor was out of this world. Sometime I will try a better cut of meat. Shoot, this was so good I am barely motivated to pay 200% more money to get something 10% better in quality than this.
Heck, I was impressed. Maybe even the cowgurl is impressed. I know my gurlyfriend Sue will be, but she's like that!


  1. Marty, your pastrami looks wonderful!! Bet it was tasty. :)

  2. I am your #1 fan! Hopefully, there will be some left the next time I am there so I can show you how impressed I really am.
    The GF, Sue

  3. Hi Marty, I just found your blog and have been going through your archive. This post did it for me. I'll follow anyone that makes their own Pastrami. Gonna try your recipe over the winter. Thanks for the post. Fiddler