I enjoy smoked meat, I also enjoy corned beef, and if you put them together, you end up with pastrami. I enjoy a good pastrami sandwich on caraway rye bread, with a nice bold deli mustard. This recipe is a lot of work, a lot of time, but produces a great sandwich.
This recipe isn’t easy. It is a lot of work. It assumes a lot of background knowledge, and a vast skill set. I doubt that anyone is going to follow this recipe verbatim, but it is a good guide on how to make pastrami.
This recipe requires having a smoker, and a lot of extra space in your fridge while the meat is brined. This recipe isn’t for everyone, and it may be easier if you buy some corned beef and smoke it rather than curing your own brisket.
This sandwich is a lot of work. I don’t recommend doing it. It took an hour to prep the meat, two weeks to cure the meat, 12 hours to desalinate the meat, and 12 to 15 hours to smoke it. The sandwich took less than 5 minutes to eat. Was it worth it? Yeah, it sure was.
I don’t use my standard beef rub in this recipe, but I use a spice blend for corned beef adapted from J. Kenji López-Alt’s recipe on Serious Eats.
Equipment needed in making the Pastrami sandwich:
This recipe assumes you know the basics of smoking beef, and have access to a smoker. This isn’t a guide to smoking beef, nor is it a guide to curing meat. It also requires a vacuum sealer, a cooler, a deli slicer, and lots of ice. It might be easier to just go buy a Pastrami sandwich than making it at home.
A sandwich that takes 2 weeks to make, and 5 minutes to eat, but worth it.
Curing the beef
Measure out the kosher salt, pink salt, peppercorns, mustard seeds, coriander, allspice berries, cloves, ginger, and bay leaves.
Trim any excess fat off the brisket.
Mix together the pink salt, and the kosher salt. And rub evenly over the brisket, making sure to coat the entire thing.
Mix together the peppercorns, mustard seeds, coriander, allspice berries, cloves, ginger, and torn bay leaves. Spread over the brisket, covering both sides.
Place the meat in a vacuum sealer bag, along with any left over salt mixture or spice blend. And seal it.I had to roll the brisket into a large meat cigar to fit it in the bag.
Put the sealed meat bag in the fridge, and flip it daily, for two weeks, while the meat cures.
Desalinate the beef
After the meat has cured for two weeks, remove it from vacuum sealed bag and rinse it off thoroughly.
You need to soak the beef for at least 12 hours in cold water to remove some of the salt. I used a cooler filled with ice water. You can use a large pot filled with ice water and leave it in the fridge.
Ideally, you will want to change the water every 3 to 4 hours, but if you cannot, don't worry about it. The finished product may be a bit salty, but shouldn't be too bad in a sandwich.
Smoking the beef
Pre-heat your smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
Add some smoke wood to the smoker. I used hickory, but whatever wood you prefer will work.
Once the smoker is up to temperature, add the brisket. And smoke it until it reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wrap the brisket in foil, adding the apple juice, and smoke until it reaches 203 degrees Fahrenheit.
Resting the beef
Once the brisket reaches the desired tenderness, and texture, pull it off of the smoker and allow it to rest, still sealed in foil until it cools to between 140°F to 160°F.
Now you can either slice the brisket to eat now, or put it in the fridge to use later.
Slicing the brisket
Remove the point from the brisket.
If you want a leaner cut of meat in the sandwich, use the flat, if you want a fattier cut, use the point. Slice the meat thinly, across the grain.I used a deli slicer, and sliced the meat as thin as I could.
Build the sandwich
Take two slices of the rye bread and toast them.
Butter the bread if desired.
Add the slice of cheese, if using.
Stack the meat on the bread to make the sandwich. I like a meaty sandwich, so stack it thick, and evenly.
Add the sliced pickles if using,
Top with the deli mustard, and the bread.
Slice in half, and serve.
This recipe assumes you know how to smoke beef, have access to a smoker, and know how to carve a brisket.