This post is sponsored by the Certified Angus Beef ® brand in conjunction with a social media campaign through Sunday Supper LLC. All opinions are my own.
Are you interested in making homemade brisket pastrami? Or looking for a new recipe? I’m guessing its either one, otherwise you might be here because you are either a super loyal fan (hi mom!) or a bot. Anyway, making this recipe for homemade brisket pastrami was a fun process from start to finish, from making the brine to that glorious moment when you slice into the finished product five days later.
What’s the difference between pastrami and corned beef?
Pastrami and corned beef look similar, usually come from the same cut of beef (brisket), and go through a brining process. But the main difference is how they are cooked. While corned beef is usually boiled then simmered until done, pastrami is smoked (and, as in this recipe, wrapped near the end and cooked on a higher heat).
Trimming the brisket
Most recipes call for a five pound brisket flat. I tend to find them to be bigger at my local butcher who sells Certified Angus Beef. The one I used for this recipe (and in these pictures) was close to nine pounds! That just meant more homemade brisket pastrami for me!
Not a ton of trimming to do on this one, just trimming off the silver skin on one side (which can take a little while) and leaving the fat side mostly the same, which mine came trimmed down to 1/4 inch mostly (if you want details on how to trim a brisket, check out this blog post).
Preparing the brine
The process of curing the meat starts with making an awesome brine. A simple brine consists of kosher salt and sugar mixed in water, but brining for homemade brisket pastrami requires more ingredients to help with the curing process. For this brine, I use kosher salt, sugar, brown sugar, honey, Prague powder #1, ground black pepper, garlic, and pickling spice. Speaking of pickling spice…
If you have researched other homemade brisket pastrami recipes, you will see a lot of them have coriander seed, mustard seed, allspice, peppercorn, chili peppers, and bay leaves. Pickling spice combines all of these ingredients, saving you from the need to buy all of these spices separately. If you can’t find this at your local grocer, you can always head to Amazon like I did.
Combine all of these ingredients with two quarts of water in a large pot and heat to a boil. Keep it this way until the salt and sugars have dissolved, which should take about five minutes. Once those two ingredients have been dissolved, add two quarts of ice water to the pot to cool it down. We do this so the meat doesn’t cook while brining, thus ruining the whole dang thing. Experts say the water should be about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s a good idea to aim for a temp in that range.
Pour the brine into your bucket or whatever container is large enough to submerge your brisket in a gallon of brine. While I do have a standard, five gallon bucket I use for brining poultry, I went to the store and bought a flat, rectangular storage bin that was big enough to hold a brisket flat and it worked great. Keep the brisket in the brine for five days, flipping over each day.
Time to smoke this stuff!
Now that you have exercised patience over the last five days, the time has come to exercise more patience and smoke this brisket pastrami! Preheat your grill/smoker to 275F using indirect heat. I used oak wood for this one because I like the flavor of that smoke with the brisket.
While the grill is heating up, make sure to rinse off the brisket thoroughly when you pull it out of the brine. When that’s done, pat dry with paper towels. Now smother some spicy brown mustard and apply a simple beef rub, even one that is a little heavy on the pepper. Once that is done, put on the smoker and let it ride for five hours or until the meat reaches an internal temp around 160F. I like to use the Thermoworks Smoke (as well as the Signals) to monitor temps while I am away.
When you’ve reached that point (five hours of smoke or internal temp of around 160F), get a large cutting board and lay out a couple of sheets of aluminum foil that are large enough to wrap the brisket. Take the cutting board with the foil sheets laid out to the grill, remove the brisket from the grill and place on the foil. Wrap tightly, crank up the heat to 325F, and place the wrapped brisket back on the grill.
Let cook until the internal temp reaches around 195F, then remove the brisket pastrami from the grill, place on your cutting board and open up the foil halfway, then let rest for about 30 minutes before slicing.
Finally! Time to eat!
It is important to let meat rest after cooking so the juices can build up inside and enhance the flavor. To get the best bite, slice your homemade brisket pastrami against the grain, which will likely be at a diagonal angle as seen in the picture at the top of this post.
You can either eat the slices as they are or make some epic homemade brisket pastrami reuben sandwiches by taking said slices and putting them on a sandwich with thousand island dressing, sauerkraut, and melted Swiss cheese all in between a couple of slices of toasted rye bread. So. Dang. Good!
- 1 brisket flat (size varies)
- FOR BRINE
- 1 gallon water (2 quarts for cooking, 2 quarts ice water)
- 1 1/2 Cup kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp Prague powder #1
- 3/4 Cup sugar
- 1/4 Cup brown sugar
- 1/4 Cup pickling spice
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- AFTER BRINE
- 1/3 Cup spicy brown mustard
- 1/4 Cup salt & pepper rub
- In a large pot, combine two quarts of water, kosher salt, honey, garlic, Prague powder #1, sugar, brown sugar, pickling spice, and ground black pepper. Bring to a boil and cook until salt and sugar granules have dissolved. Remove from heat and add two quarts of ice water.
- Pour cooled down brine into container, put in trimmed brisket, put on lid. Place in fridge for five days.
- When ready to cook, preheat grill/smoker to 275F. Take brisket out of brine, rinse and pat dry. Apply spicy brown mustard followed by salt and pepper rub.
- Place brisket on grill/smoker and cook for five hours or until internal temp reaches around 160F. Double wrap brisket in foil, place back on grill and turn up temp to 325F. Cook until internal temp reaches the 190-195F range.
- Remove brisket pastrami from grill, unwrap and let rest for 30 minutes before slicing. Slice thinly and enjoy!
- I used oak wood for the smoke flavor with this, but feel free to use whichever smoking wood you prefer for beef.
- Spritz with apple juice on occasion during the first five hours of the cook.
- Make brisket pastrami reuben sandwiches!
Serving Size:3 ounces
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 130 Total Fat: 5g Saturated Fat: 2g Cholesterol: 60mg Sodium: 900mg Carbohydrates: 0.4g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 0g Protein: 18g