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Perfect Homemade Pastrami

If you've never had good pastrami it's about time you do because it's the meat of all meats. It's the cured, smoked meat legend of every...

If you've never had good pastrami it's about time you do because it's the meat of all meats. It's the cured, smoked meat legend of every deli in the world that you're able to make this perfectly juicy, perfectly fatty pastrami at home from scratch.


Serves: 4-6


Brine Ingredients:

  • 5-6lb wagyu brisket

  • 1-gallon water

  • 8 ounces (226g) kosher salt (grams?)

  • 2 tsp (12g) Prague powder #1 ( grams only)

  • 3/4 cup (156g) dark brown sugar

  • 1 Tbsp (7g) coriander seeds toasted

  • 2 tsp (8g) hot pepper flakes

  • 1 Tbsp (13g) mustard seeds

  • 4 bay leaves

  • 2 tsp (6g) cloves

  • 2 sprigs rosemary

  • 5 cloves garlic smashed

  • 5-7 juniper berries

Pastrami spice:

  • 1 Tbsp (11g) whole black peppercorns

  • 1.5 Tbsp (10g) coriander seeds

  • 1.5 Tbsp (26g) brown sugar

  • 1 Tbsp (8g) smoked paprika

  • 1 Tbsp (12g) garlic powder

  • 1 Tbsp (12g) onion powder

  • 2 Tbsp (10g) mustard seeds

Russian dressing:

  • 1 cup (210g) mayonnaise

  • 1/3 cup (96g) ketchup

  • 2 Tbsp (32g) hot sauce (crystal)

  • 1 Tbsp fresh horseradish

  • 2.5 tsp (15g) Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 tsp (3g) smoked paprika

  • 2 Tbsp thinly sliced chives

  • 1 clove garlic, grated

  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Crusty bread

  • Russian Dressing

  • Pastrami, sliced

  • Sauerkraut

  • Swiss cheese slices *optional*


Pastrami Method:

  1. Start by removing the point from the flat by following along the large piece of fat running along with both the fat and the brisket. Keep cutting, pulling, peeling it back, and once it’s real thin cut straight through to the bottom.

  2. Once done, trim any excess fat off down to a ½-inch.

  3. For the brine, in a large container combine dark brown sugar, kosher salt, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, cloves, Prague powder #1, hot pepper flakes, crushed bay leaves, sprigs of rosemary, garlic cloves, juniper berries, and water. Stir to combine.

  4. Add meat to the brine, cover, and refrigerate for 6 days. Flip the meat after 3 days.

  5. Remove the meat and place it to the side. Toss the brine, and replace it with fresh water before adding the meat back to the container. Fridge for an additional night.

  6. Remove the meat and place it on a paper towel. Dry the meat using paper towels.

  7. For the spice, to a blender add black peppercorns, coriander seeds, and mustard seeds. Blend until it forms a coarse chunky powder. Add spices to a bowl along with light brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, and smoked paprika. Mix to combine.

  8. Season the brisket generously with the spice mixture on all sides.

  9. Prep a smoker to 225F, and smoke the brisket for 6-7 hours or until an internal temperature of 150F.

  10. Place the brisket on a wire rack set on a baking sheet, and pour boiling water to the bottom of the tray, tightly cover with foil (foil shouldn’t touch the meat), and pop into a 325F oven to steam cook for 2 hours or the internal temperature is between 195-203F.

  11. Wrap in butcher’s paper and let it rest for at least 15-20 minutes.

Reuben Sandwich Method:

  1. For the dressing, in a medium bowl add mayonnaise, ketchup, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, thinly sliced chives, grated horseradish, grated garlic, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix until well combined.

  2. Butter toast the bread, add generous dollops of dressing on both sides of the bread, stack on the pastrami, and top with sauerkraut and swiss cheese (optional).

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