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+ servings
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
10 hrs
Rest Time
7 d
Total Time
10 hrs 20 mins
Pastrami is the very popular highly seasoned smoked beef prepared especially from shoulder cuts, that is first brined, then smoked, and finally steamed.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 people
Author: Mike Benayoun
For the corned beef
  • 4 lb beef brisket , or navel (plate), boneless short rib meat, flank steak, tongue, or round
  • 4 quarts water
  • 8 oz. kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons Prague Powder #1
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons pickling spices (mustard seeds, allspice, coriander seeds, clove, ginger, red pepper flakes, bay leaf, cinnamon stick)
  • 4 cloves garlic , pressed
For the Pastrami rub
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
For the pastrami
  • 4 lb corned beef (recipe below or store-bought, brined uncooked)
  • 8 tablespoons pastrami rub (recipe below)
  • Rye Bread
  • Brown mustard
  • Pickles
Corned Beef
  1. Clean a container large enough to hold the brine and the meat, such as a large glass container.
  2. Mix the Prague Powder #1, brown sugar, pickling spices and garlic cloves. Add to the water and stir until the powder and ground ingredients are dissolved.
  3. Add the meat to the curing solution. Since it will probably float to the surface, use a glass or plastic bowl filled with brine on top of the meat until it submerges.
  4. Make sure there is enough brine to cover the meat by at least 1 inch. Refrigerate.
  5. Let it cure for at least 4 days (ideally 6), depending on the thickness of the meat. Move the meat every day to stir up the curing solution.

  6. At the end of the brining, the outer layer of the meat will be light gray. The inside should look just like raw meat, slightly pinker.
Pastrami rub
  1. Toast the coriander and mustard seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Grind the seeds with a mortar with a pestle or in a spice grinder until you have a rough sandy texture.
  3. Combine the ground spices with the pepper, paprika, salt, sugar, and garlic.
  1. Desalinate by placing the corned beef in a pot slightly larger than the meat and cover it with cold water in the fridge for at least 24 hours.

  2. Rinse the meat, and place it on a large plate.
  3. Apply the spice rub generously. Press the rub onto the meat surface so that it can adhere. Use less rub on thin parts of the meat cut.
  4. Place the plate in the refrigerator for a minimum of 3 days uncovered.
  5. Preheat the smoker to 225 F / 107 C. Use any wood, such as cherry wood.

  6. Place the meat in the smoker. Smoke the with indirect heat until it reaches about 160 F / 70 C.

  7. If you do not steam the smoked meat right away, wrap in foil and and keep it refrigerated for up to a week.

  8. In a large steamer (or in a large pot or pan with a wire rack), place the meat, making sure that the meat is not in contact with the water.
  9. Put the steamer on the stove at low to medium heat. Steam for two hours or until the meat is heated through to 203 F / 95 C. Add hot water as needed, to make sure the steamer never dries out.

  10. For a firm crust, place on a hot grill, in the oven or under the broiler for a few minutes.
  11. Cut the meat by hand with a sharp knife in thin slices, about ½ inch thick, perpendicular to the grain.

  12. Spread brown mustard on two slices of untoasted rye bread.
  13. Serve pastrami between the slices of rye bread, with pickles and coleslaw on the side.