How to Cure Your Own Pastrami

Apr 19, 2011 9:00 am

Making your own pastrami is easier than you think

Sure, you can go into just about any deli and buy a pastrami sandwich. We challenge you to make your own. Not just the sandwich, but the whole pastrami. That's right, cure your own pastrami. It's actually pretty simple. And very impressive. Come on, what are you waiting for? Follow these simple steps, and for more info on DIY cured meats check out The Art of Charcuterie by The Culinary Institute of America and John Kowalski.

You can read it while you enjoy your homemade pastrami sliced thin on rye bread with grainy mustard. The way pastrami was meant to be.

Once you make the pastrami, how you construct the sandwich is up to you
Once you make the pastrami, how you construct the sandwich is up to you
Servings: 1 brisket


1 (10- to 12-pound) beef brisket
1 1/2 gallon water
1 to 1 pound 4 ounces kosher salt
5 ounces granulated sugar
3 1/2 ounces Insta Cure No. 1
3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon pickling spice
2 ounces coriander seeds, toasted
2 ounces black peppercorns, toasted and cracked
1 to 2 loaves rye bread, fresh, sliced
1 bottle mustard, spicy brown
  1. Trim the external fat on the brisket to 1/16 in./1.50 mm thick.
  2. In a brining tub, combine the water, salt, sugar, and Insta Cure. Mash the garlic cloves and crush the pickling spice and add to the brine solution.
  3. Weigh the brisket and inject the brisket with brine equal to about 10 percent of its weight.
  4. Place the brisket in the brining tub and use a plate or rack to keep it completely below the surface.
  5. Brine the brisket for 3 days.
  6. After 3 days, remove the brisket from the brine and soak it in warm water for 30 minutes. Drain and dry the brisket.
  7. Grind the coriander and peppercorns to medium-fine in a spice grinder. Rub the spices over the surface of the brisket on all sides.
  8. Cold-smoke the brisket for 2 hours
  9. Hot-smoke the brisket at 185°F/85°C to an internal temperature of 155° to 160°F/68° to 71°C. The smoke intensity should be about medium; you do not want it to be too strong. Cherry, mesquite, and hickory are woods that go well with beef products.
  10. To finish the pastrami, simmer in water until tender, about 2 hours. It may also be cooled, wrapped, and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. To reheat the brisket, place it in water or stock and reheat to an internal temperature of 165°F/74°C.

Note: Beef plate can also be used in place of brisket.

Slice thin, and serve on fresh rye bread slathered with spicy brown mustard.  

Level of Difficulty: 
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