Homemade Pastrami

Recipe adapted from Michael Ruhlman, photo by Rivka Friedman

Brine:

homemade pastrami by rivkaf

  • 6 ounces or 3/4 cups Morton’s kosher salt (or 200 grams if measuring water in liters)
  • 3 ounces or ½ cup sugar (100 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons “pink salt” (sodium nitrite), optional
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed with the flat side of a knife
  • 2 tablespoons pickling spice (purchase or make your own from this recipe)
  • 1 5-pound beef brisket, the more fat it has the better

Rub:

  • 1 tablespoon peppercorn, toasted and ground (or as needed)
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seed, toasted and ground (or as needed)
  1. In pot large enough to hold brisket, combine 1 gallon/4 liters of water with kosher salt, sugar, sodium nitrite (if using), garlic and 2 tablespoons pickling spice. Bring to a simmer, stirring until salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled.
  2. Place brisket in brine, weighted with a plate to keep it submerged; cover. Refrigerate for 2 days if it’s thin, a third day if it’s thick.
  3. Remove brisket from brine and rinse thoroughly.  Refrigerate it for another day uncovered (this is best, to let cure equalize, but if you can’t wait, that’s ok too).
  4. Combine the pepper and coriander and coat the brisket with it.  Smoke the meat for a couple hours. Then transfer it to a 200 to 250 degree oven to finish:  first cook, uncovered, 30-60 minutes to bake the smoke on, and then cover it with foil and 1/2 cup of water and cook it for another 2 to 4 hours till it’s tender (the water is to make sure there’s plenty of steam).
  5. Slice thinly to serve.  This will keep for a week in the refrigerated.  Steam it to reheat or reheat covered in a microwave (gently).

Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

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