Corned Beef into Pastrami: My Smoked Pastrami Recipe

To make Pastrami you first need a good piece of corned beef. I look for a corned beef flat in the 4lb range. Many places also sell the point, but I’ve found that it has too much fat for making Pastrami.

Grobbels is the brand that I use most of the time. It can be found at supermarkets or your local Sam’s Club.

The first step is to remove the corned beef flat from the packaging, rinse, and get it soaking in cold water.

This process pulls out the majority of the salt and cure left over from the brining process. Place it in the refrigerator, and let it soak for at least 24hrs. Also, be sure to change the water every 6 hours to keep it fresh.

After 24 hours, remove the flat from the soak and rinse in cold water. Pat it dry with paper towel.

For the seasoning, I used the following:

Pastrami Dry Rub

  • 2 Tablespoons Coarse Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon Granulated Garlic
  • ½ teaspoon Onion Powder
  • ½ teaspoon Spanish Paprika
  • ½ teaspoon Ground Coriander

Coat the outside of the flat with the dry rub, wrap up tight in Plastic wrap, and place it in the fridge overnight. This gives the flavors in the rub time to penetrate the meat and creates that peppery-Pastrami flavor.

The next morning take the meat out of the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature. While it’s sitting out, fire up a smoker and bring it to 250 degrees.

To give the pastrami a mild, smoked flavor I use a few chunks of hickory and cherry wood. I don’t like it over smoked so just a couple chunks of each will do the job.

Smoke the pastrami until it hits 150 degrees internal.

I keep a probe thermometer in it the whole time, but it usually takes about 3 hours. When it reaches 150, place it in an aluminum pan, pour in 1 cup of beef stock, and wrap with aluminum foil. Place it back on the cooker and finish cooking to an internal temp of 175-180 degrees about 2 more hours.

When the pastrami is done, remove it from the smoker and allow it to rest for a few minutes.

It’s ready to eat right away and goes mighty good with sauteed cabbage…but what I do is put it back in the fridge overnight, and run it through a meat slicer the next day.

I like it sliced thin…just like the deli.

Throw several slices in a sauté pan, cover with Swiss cheese, top with fresh sauerkraut and place it on toasted marbled rye. You’ll have the best Reuben Sandwich you’ve ever had; just don’t forget the Russian dressing…

Malcom Reed
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Comments 1

  1. Thank you for sharing this recipe! It’s because of folks like you that my family now thinks I’m the best cook in the world. I’m not a pro or competition cook – just a guy who likes great food. Thanks for feeding that passion.

    I tried this recipe on my UDS a couple of weeks before St. Patrick’s Day, and it was undoubtedly the best pastrami the wife and I have ever tasted. We have family coming over tomorrow for a birthday party, and I’ll be making more.

    The only variation I made from your recipe was in the wood I used to smoke it. I didn’t have any cherry, so I went with a mixture of hickory and apple. It turned out fantastic!

    If anyone feels tempted to try this recipe, let me advise you to go with that temptation. In fact, what are you waiting for? Corned beef isn’t expensive at all, especially with the stores trying to get rid of all the overstock from St. Patrick’s Day. Just follow Malcom’s suggestion and go easy on the smoke. I’d also advise using a remote probe thermo, and keeping an eye on it. With my UDS running at 250°F, it took a total of two and a half hours to cook our small 1.5 lb corned beef.

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