We smoked a home made corned beef yesterday after rubbing on a generous helping of the proper spices, as you can see in the photo above. That’s after firming up in the fridge overnight for easier slicing. I suppose I should back up a little. Pastrami is a smoked chunk of corned meat. We went with a beef brisket but you can corn (preserve with salt) other meats as well. Turkey seems to be a popular substitute for beef for making a pastrami, at least in the deli at the local grocery.
There are tons of recipes out there for corning briskets, I went with this one from Alton Brown.The 2 gallon plastic zip bag was a great idea, and Mrs J found a large, shallow, plastic container that held everything nicely. We let it soak for a week, turning the brisket over daily to make sure the brine got to every part. I spent several sessions looking for spice recipes for the rub and found too many to recount here. I ended up going with three main ingredients: Coarsely ground black pepper, ground coriander seeds, and juniper berries. The juniper berries were the hardest to find locally but we ran across some in a co-op grocery not far from the Asian food store that we shop regularly.I tried to grind the juniper berries into the meat with the palm of my hand, not sure how better to do it, but the flavor came through. I gave the berries a spin in the spice grinder first but most of them were still intact. I used a mix of wood chips for the smoke flavor on this – hickory, apple, and cherry. With the smoker set to 225 it took about 10 hours to get to 160 internally. I then wrapped the brisket in several layers of aluminum foil and returned it to the smoker. It made it to 172 before I decided to remove it due to oncoming rough weather. (I had the smoker set up in our detached garage.) One of the questions I researched was “at what temperature is it done”, and found some disagreement. 160 -165 seemed to be the minimum but there were several that said they liked to see it get higher than that. One fellow said 190 was fine by him. I figured I could always cook it more if mine wasn’t yet good to go but I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out.I have a decent counter top model slicer and it made short work of the slab. We ended up with 4 pounds of sliced pastrami. The uncooked brisket was 5 or 6 pounds, I forgot to make a note of it so I’m just guessing.