It’s a commitment to make homemade pastrami. We talk about it often but have to plan ahead to make it happen which finally happened this weekend when we smoked up some classic Jewish wholesomeness. This was our third (successful!) attempt.
Rather than give the number of hours, the recipe notes preparation time as Oy! Or as my people would say Uff Da! Pastrami is not difficult so much as time consuming. You need at least a week if you start from scratch, but if you pick up the process with the smoking it need only take 2 or 3 days.
Begin with a beef brisket that is cured with pickling spices and curing salt for 5 – 7 days. This curing creates corned beef. Because our fridge in KS is small, we kept ours in the garage during this phase. You can skip this step if you start with a store bought corned beef.
The next step is to desalinate the meat by letting it soak in plain water for 8 hours. Ours rode out the desalination in the back of the truck on the way back to the smoker in Colorado. (I should probably note that it is winter here in KS and CO, making it possible to replace the fridge with the garage and back of the truck. Not recommended in other seasons or climates!)
The corned beef then rests in a generous pastrami rub for 2 days. After which it’s time to smoke for 6 hours. While he was at it, NB added about a dozen chicken thighs the smoker which I use for salads, soups, and tonight a tasty Chicken and Rice dish.
Finish the pastrami in a steam bath for an hour or so on the stove top for additional tenderness. The last step of steaming is optional, and we had not done it on our previous two attempts. I feel like the steaming may have compromised the flavor a bit, but nothing dramatic.
It’s now time for the most killer reuben you have ever tasted. Oy vey!