In Texas, we typically BBQ our brisket, so I was getting some strange looks recently when I told some friends I was going to corn a brisket to make corned beef and pastrami. Sure, everybody has heard of corned beef, but you make it out of brisket? Why would you do that to a good brisket? And pastrami is smoked corned beef?
I have to admit they had a point. I have been known to smoke a brisket or two, and it is hard to think of anything better, especially in Texas.
On the other hand, my friends did seem to be a little interested in the pastrami idea. It is a brisket, afterall, and it is being smoked, so that seems sort of natural.
Plus, once everybody got over the shock that it was made from brisket, it seemed they all liked pastrami.
So pastrami it is.
In the New York delis, pastrami is made by cold smoking a corned beef in pastrami spices, then steaming it.
That not going to fly here in Texas.
I decided to make my pastrami Texas style. I still used a corned beef brisket, but added a little Texas heat to the pastrami spices. Then smoked it like a traditional Texas BBQ brisket.
Texas BBQ Pastrami
- 3 to 5 pound corned beef (I made my own, recipe here)
- 3 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 3 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 3 tablespoons paprika
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 1 tablespoon pickling spices (I like Penzeys Spices Corned Beef Spices)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic or garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Spice/coffee grinder
Remove corned beef from bag and rinse salt and spices off under cold running water.
Let corned beef soak in a pan filled with water in the refrigerator for 24 hours, changing the water 2 or 3 times to help remove the salt.
While the corned beef is soaking, make the pastrami spice rub. I actually make two rubs.
The first is more for color and a little heat. Mix the paprika, brown sugar and cayenne pepper in spice grinder and pulse a couple of times to mix. Pour rub into small bowl.
The second rub gives you that pastrami flavor. Mix coriander and peppercorns into the spice grinder. Pepper and coriander is really all you need, but I also like to add mustard seeds, pickling spices and garlic. Grind till all the coriander and peppercorns are broken down into small chunks. Pour into separate small bowl.
After the corned beef has soaked for 24 hours, drain water and pat corned beef dry.
Rub all sides of the corned beef with paprika rub, repeat with coriander rub, making sure to press it into all sides. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours.
Start your smoker and set it up for a low-and-slow smoke (160ºF - 180ºF).
Unwrap corned beef and place in smoker. Smoke for 4 hours.
After smoking for 4 hours wrap in aluminum foil, raise heat to 225ºF - 250ºF, put back in smoker and pull when pastramis internal temperature reaches 190ºF.
Let rest in foil for 1 hour.
Remove from foil and slice into thin slices against the grain. Be sure to use a sharp knife to ensure thin slices and to not damage the crust while slicing.
When making a sandwich, I like stacking the pastrami at least an inch thick!
Be sure to check out the slideshow above for step-by-step pictures.