Smoked Pastrami

by Kevin H. on March 14, 2013 · 36 comments

Smoked Pastrami Recipe

The recipe is a culmination of much research and my awesome cousins Dan and Tim.  Last year at Memphis in May, over a three-day period we cooked ribs, pulled pork, brisket, smoked chicken, salmon, Memphis sausage & cheese, beef tenderloin, smoked brats…and much more.  But you know what the best thing we ate was, that we were all talking about for days?

This Pastrami.

Smoked Pastrami Recipe

Dan brined it for weeks in California, where he lived at the time, and actually packed it in ice in his suitcase and brought it to Memphis.  How dedicated is that?  Since then, Tim recreated at our family Christmas gathering, and it was so ridiculously good that 3 of these 10lb suckers were eaten and gone in about 30 minutes.

I needed no further motivation to try it myself.

I won’t bore you with all the details here, as many of them have been given this week with the Brine and Rub.  Pictured above you see the brisket soaking in water.  This process pulls some of that salty brine out of the meat.  I soaked it for about 5 hours, but it could have soaked a lot longer – even overnight if possible.

Smoked Pastrami Recipe

From there it’s as simple as patting the brisket dry and covering both sides in delicious rub.  Let it sit like that for at least 30 minutes so it adheres well to the meat before moving to smoker.

Smoked Pastrami Recipe

Then it’s all about the internal temp.  I used a blend of hickory and apple wood and smoked this big beauty for about 4 hours.  And yes, those are bacon wrapped potatoes you see.  That’s a fun and tasty little side dish treat for you…and why the heck not, you know?

Smoked Pastrami Recipe

After smoking, I wrapped in an aluminum pan and cooked until the internal temp hit about 200.  After letting it rest for 30 minutes I sliced it and was absolutely smiling from ear to ear when I saw that the process had worked and this beef brisket was now a pink colored pastrami.  Such a neat process.

Smoked Pastrami Recipe

So thank you to my cousins for inspiring me to make this delicious meat.  I will say, it’s a time consuming process to go through a 3 week brining period on top of spending a half day smoking it….but it’s one of my most favorite things I’ve ever done.  I’m telling you it’s delicious.  And the sandwiches we had the next several days were out of this world.  Plan it out and try at least once.  I think you’ll be surprised at how much you like it.

Smoked Pastrami Recipe

Smoked Pastrami

Smoked Pastrami

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Brine Pastrami as instructed for at least 2 weeks, if not 3 weeks.
  2. Soak in water overnight to draw out some of the salt.
  3. Pat dry and cover both sides with Pastrami Rub.
  4. Smoke at 225-250, using a mix of hickory & fruit wood, for at least 4 hours or until internal temp hits about 160.
  5. Place the brisket in an aluminum pan with a bit of liquid - apple juice, water, or whatever you want - and cook until the internal temp is around 200. Another good indicator is when your thermometer slides into the meat like butter.
  6. Let rest for at least 30 minutes, slice thin.
http://www.extraordinarybbq.com/smoked-pastrami/

Leave a Comment

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Jim S. March 23, 2016 at 10:41 am

I’m going to try venison pastrami. The roast I will use is going to weigh between 2-3 pounds. Do I need to adjust the ingredient amounts in the corned beef brine or will it be fine for the 2 – 3 pound weight?

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Kevin April 10, 2016 at 7:27 am

You can probably keep the same, but you may not need as much quantity. Just save and switch out the brine every week.

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Marilyn March 5, 2016 at 3:11 pm

I want to make this ahead for a wedding. Could you freeze it ahead and thaw before slicing?

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Kevin H. March 5, 2016 at 3:13 pm

I would recommend slicing/pulling first, then freezing. But I’m sure either way would work just fine!

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Grk March 5, 2016 at 7:31 pm

I have made this 3 times in the last 5 months. It is awesome. I slice it and food saver 8 oz portions then freeze. When the wife and I want a Reuben we pull a pack out of the freezer and thaw it out. It’s wonderful. All my coworkers got a frozen pack for Xmas and all I heard was “when can I get another package of that pastrami?!” My suggestion is to slice and freeze and you will be fine.

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Jamie January 1, 2016 at 8:59 pm

Thank you this looks amazing. I do have a quick question for you, I was looking at the recipe for the brine and it says corned beef brine. My question is, at my local store they sell corned beef that is still in a bag with liquid, that looks like brine. Could I use one of these, to speed up the process, and just skip to the smoking part? Could the meat be frozen, and if so how long would it last? Thanks for you help

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Kevin January 4, 2016 at 10:45 am

Jamie – the kind you’re seeing in the store – I believe – is a pre-brined brisket. You can either smoke it or cook it in the oven, but it needs to be cooked in some way. But yes, that would speed up the process – you could skip the 3 weeks of brining.

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GRK December 27, 2015 at 11:23 am

I did a packer brisket (separated) and three venison roasts. Pulled the venison at 150 internal and the brisket at 201. Seriously best thing to come out of my smoker as well. Started another brisket brining this morning and will be curing our own corned beef for St. Patties day this year.

Can’t really convey how amazing this recipe is!! Thank you!

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Derrin December 16, 2015 at 3:55 pm

Question… This is my first time curing meat. When I was dumping the cure too add more for the 3rd. Week my meat is very slimy and the brine was almost a gelatin. Should I be worried as too whether it’s safe for consumption? I followed your recipe for the brine. Using the Morton tender quick. I did not change the brine for the first two weeks. I did stir it after the first week and flipped the meat. Sorry for the newby question. I just don’t want to get anyone or myself sick. Thanks in advance.

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Kevin December 17, 2015 at 7:22 am

Derrin – I have to be honest – I’ve never had that happen, where the brine turns into gelatin. I’m not sure what to tell you there. If you rinse it all off and it smells fine, I’d forge ahead. I trust my nose when it comes to these things!

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Derrin December 17, 2015 at 12:57 pm

I rinsed it off and it didn’t smell bad so hopefully all is good I’ll smell it again in a week and see.

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denise December 21, 2015 at 12:12 pm

what you had happen was the ropy experience ~~i have heard that means contamination but have heard others now a days say they just rinse it off and make new brine ~~i to have NEVER had this experience but have read much on it ~~i would be cautious though ~` hope you get back with us as to how it smoked up as i am curious if after that it had an off Oder about it all or taste

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Denise December 9, 2015 at 12:31 pm

Kevin I made way to much brine last time i cured my pork shoulder so ended up freezing the excess ~`not protein ever touched it and i am now wanting to cure a pork butt or shoulder for a quick ham and then smoke for Christmas ~`my daughter just put in hjer request or i would have done it much earlier but my question is for just a few days in the wet cure do you think it would be okay to use the cure i have in the freezer to inject with and let set for a few days ~~?? it has not in any way been contaminated ~~ smile ~~ thanks for any help ~~Merry Christmas

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Kevin December 13, 2015 at 7:51 am

Denise – I see zero issue with using frozen brine/marinade of any kind. The only thing I can think of is the salt might be less potent? But that’s just a guess – it might be exactly the same. Anyway, I think you’re safe to use it!

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denise December 21, 2015 at 12:08 pm

I went ahead and used it as we had our Christmas this past Saturday as a family and needed to get all my bases covered quickly ~~it worked fabulously ~`both the sweet and the salty was still very much there as well as the pickling seasoning and i even cut my cure time by 3 days and only cured 1 week ~~rinsed well after a 2 hour soak ~then of coarse i scored ~`rubbed and air dried in the fridge overnight ~i have never done that before but i injected well so it was able to get where it needed to be ~~ and smoked for several hours with Maple and hickory wood ~`glazed ~`let set overnight for the flavors to really marry ~~~i honestly do think this is an important step folks miss some times ~~`reheated a bit for the day of and it was gorgeous ~`perfect flavor and my frozen brine had been in the deep freeze for a few months ~~so if any others make to much and it has NOT touched your product at all ~~try freezing it up to be used later ~` worked great ~~i would add a picture but can not see how on this page ~~i made a homemade raspberry ancho chili grand marnier glaze for it that later cooked down more went great with the sweet potato biscuits i made for horderves

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Paul August 25, 2015 at 12:06 am

What type of brisket cut do you recomend?

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Kevin August 26, 2015 at 7:35 am

I always buy whole brisket packers at Sam’s or Costco. I love cooking them with the point on. Choice, Prime – they all work. You can also get just the flat from a local grocery store, but I think the whole packers cook better.

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TJ June 5, 2015 at 8:49 am

Hey Kevin,

So when you add the brisket to the aluminum pan…do you keep it in the smoker? Or do you add it to the oven? I’m a rookie and a little confused….I’m extremely excited to make this though!

Thanks!

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Kevin H. June 5, 2015 at 2:27 pm

I’ve done it both ways, wrapped it and left it in the smoker and finished it in the oven. Both ways work great.

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Greg December 31, 2014 at 12:37 pm

How long does the pastrami keep in the fridge after it’s cooked?

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Kevin January 6, 2015 at 2:35 pm

My rule of thumb for all cooked meats is about 7 days. You can probably find a more specific answer somewhere…but I’ve never had any issues in a week’s time.

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Owen Conniff December 22, 2014 at 8:45 am

I found this recipe awhile back and have been saving it. I finally decided to go for it this year for the holidays. I went with two 5-6 lb flat cuts and they came out amazing! I cut off an end piece for a taste test and it was like nothing I have tasted before. I smoked for 5 hours in the 22 inch smoky mountain and then finished in the oven to free up the smoker for ribs and other meats. I decided to leave the 1/4 fat cap on this time, because my briskets were so thin to begin with (but I normally trim my brisket). It cooked fast 7-8 hours, and I was able to go up a bit higher ~250 without drying it out at all. This recipe is much easier to cook that regular brisket from my experience. It seems like its almost impossible to screw it up, I actually hit 200 internal temps in the oven (covered in a pan with apple juice and brown sugar), and I was worried it would be dry, but it is not dry at all! My girlfriend is going to bake fresh rye bread for sandwiches, and I cannot wait for finished product. Brisket is running me 6.50-11.50 a lb right now, which is quite high, but this recipe was totally worth the extra cost. I hope the price of beef goes down so that I can afford to make this recipe a few times a year. It’s my new favorite! Thanks Kevin for sharing – killer recipe!

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Kevin King November 14, 2014 at 1:38 pm

I have been using this method for making pastrami for about the past three years. The only variation is the meat. We use two venison hams (Hind quarters). I do not finish them in the oven but smoke for 10-12 hours.
Best pastrami ever! Add Rye bread, Sauerkraut and Swiss Cheese, Best Reuben ever!
I just tried a hot pastrami melt from a certain sub franchise. Not even close to my own.
Time to fire up the smoker, it’s deer season and my friend gave me two 20 lb. hams. That’s this weekends project.
Smoke on!

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GRK October 21, 2015 at 10:00 pm

To what temp to you cook the venison? Really interested in giving that a go.

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Kevin December 9, 2015 at 12:20 pm

In my opinion, venison should almost always be cooked rare to medium at MOST.

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Kevin King December 9, 2015 at 12:45 pm

As I recall we went for 165 to 170 F internal temp. Got a couple of “hams” marinating now.
Now the long three week wait!

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Kevin King December 9, 2015 at 12:51 pm

I forgot to add that last year we had soooo much venison pastrami that we sliced up a bunch really thin and then dried it into jerky. OMG! Venison crack, can’t stop eating it.

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Grant October 10, 2014 at 12:05 pm

I don’t often leave comments on recipes, but I needed to acknowledge how amazing this turned out following this recipe. This was truly the greatest product that has ever exited my smoker. Well done sir!

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Jeff March 17, 2014 at 11:29 am

Hi Kevin,
So it’s St Patrick’s Day and I have been holding off trying this for today. Just finished the four hour smoke and I wrapping it up to go back in right now. I also couldn’t help but try the bacon wrapped potatoes and bacon wrapped cabbage wedges. My mouth is watering already!!! My question is how do you usually time smoking your sides and main dish? Since the meat is only smoked the first four hours and the potatoes only take two I don’t know the best way to handle the time conflict? Do you pull the potatoes early and if so what’s the best way to keep them ready to eat for dinner?

Thanks for all your help,

Jeff

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Kevin March 17, 2014 at 11:46 am

Hey Jeff – I usually try to time it so all the smoked stuff comes off at the same time, just so I can shut down my smoker. If that means I have to keep the potatoes warm, I just put them in a covered pan. And if they need to be warmed slightly then I just put them in the oven for a few minutes.
Good luck – I think it will be a hit!

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Denise Lynn March 12, 2014 at 1:11 am

oh and i meant to ask if you would leave the rub on overnight as well ~~??? i have a large offset smoker and always do this for my pork butts ~~chicken and ribs ~~Miss ~~belle ~~a~~Que

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Kevin March 16, 2014 at 8:48 am

Sure! I would definitely leave on for at least several hours. Overnight won’t hurt it either. Just soaks in those flavors more!

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Denise Lynn March 12, 2014 at 1:07 am

Kevin ~~love the way you did present this recipe in such a forthright manner ~~my gosh some of the recipes i have been looking at this week are simply daunting and shy one away from ever trying them~~:)~~i knew if i looked hard enough i would find one that did not scare me off and i am an experience smoke ~~question ~I have decided to use a medium – large chuck roast as i have one and have seen comments that both they and short ribs do make great pastrami so say if it runs maybe 5 pounds and not the 7 + you have listed here would you still use the brine and rub as listed or cut it back a quarter ???~~love your blog by the way ~~Miss ~~Belle ~~a~~Que

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Kevin March 16, 2014 at 8:49 am

You could cut it back, Denise. If you don’t, you’ll probably just end up with a little extra rub – which isn’t a bad thing! Either way, you’ll have success.

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Barrett January 22, 2014 at 5:32 am

Kevin,

Love the website. Do we need to trim the brisket at all before brining or at any point during this process? Thanks.

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Kevin January 24, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Hey Barrett – thanks for reaching out! Yes, I always trim. I’d say on the fat cap side, just trim some of the really hard fat, leaving about 1/4 fat. On the meat side, I usually trim that up pretty good, down to the meat, so all the flavors can penetrate.
Have fun and let me know how it goes!

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