Yes, You Can: Make Your Own Pastrami!

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One of life’s little luxuries is being able to spend a cold afternoon at home with your family, playing games and eating your own home-cured pastrami, good cheese and other little nibbles. This is what we enjoyed doing for last few days, and it was bliss. I’m excited to show you how you can make your own pastrami, too! If you start now, you can enjoy it on New Year’s Day.

Make Your Own Pastrami I followed instructions from one of my favorite books, Food DIY by Tim Hayward. It’s fairly simple process, and only takes five days to brine– and doesn’t require the use of any nitrates, either.

How to Make Your Own Pastrami

IMG_0763 What You’ll Need

  • A fatty and flavorful cut of meat, like brisket (this is what I used, unrolled) trimmed into a tidy slab
  • 2 liters (8 cups) of water
  • 200g (1 1/4 cup) coarse sea salt
  • 100g (1/2 cup) sugar or honey
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 15g (1 Tbs) or so of pickling spices, which can also be your own blend of mace, allspice, juniper, coriander, ginger, dried chillies, cloves, mustard seed, etc.
  • (After brining) 10g (2 tsps) each of coriander seeds and black pepper berries, crushed roughly (I used a mortar and pestle for this)
  • To smoke your meat, you’ll need a kettle-style barbecue or a kettle smoker or something of the like, plus wood chips.IMG_0779 IMG_0770What to Do:

    1. Put all of the brine ingredients into a pot. Bring to a boil, and let cool completely.
    2. Place your meat in double zip-lock bags. Pour the brine into the bag, press out the air, and seal.
    3. Store in a bowl in your fridge for 5 days, turning daily.
    4. Drain brine and pat dry. Press the crushed pepper and coriander seed into the surface of both sides of the meat, for as much coverage as possible.
    5. Smoke your pastrami for 2 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 70º C or 160º F. The important thing here is to keep the heat low and slowly bring it up to temperature, for a more tender meat. For instructions on how to smoke meat in a kettle barbecue, see my post on curing and smoking your own ham.
    6. Next step is to oven-steam. Put a little rack into a a larger dish, and put an inch of water in the bottom. Set the beef on the rack, and cover tightly with foil. Bake in the oven at 120º C or 250º F, for 3 hours.
    7. Enjoy thinly sliced, hot or cold. For extra enjoyment, eat it by the fire with lovely people. So delicious!



We ate ours up in three days, and need to get another one going, pronto! I hope you’ll try it– it’s easy and so good!

Did you like this post? Pin it for later!Cure Your Own Pastrami

This post was shared at: Small Footprint Friday.

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20 Responses to Yes, You Can: Make Your Own Pastrami!

  1. Julie Drigot December 28, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    Oh! I so plan to try this when my 1/2 grassfed beef is ready. Thanks for posting and Happy 4th Night!

    • ariana January 2, 2014 at 7:42 pm #

      So glad you’ll try it, Julie! My brother just told me that they are going to make pastrami with their ox tongues. This seems like a great use for them! By the way, I should be getting together for a collaborative beef butchery post with my local butcher soon. I don’t know if it will be in time to be helpful to you, but maybe?

  2. GrassFood January 1, 2014 at 4:53 pm #

    This is great, thank you! Happy New Year from across the pond. 🙂

    • ariana January 2, 2014 at 7:43 pm #

      So glad you can use this! Happy New Year to you and yours, as well!

  3. Randi January 8, 2014 at 1:45 am #

    I’m not sure what I did wrong, but my pastrami came out way too salty. I compared your recipe against others, and some people soak the meat in clean water for a short while after brining. I’ll try that next time. For this batch, I soaked the finished pastrami in clean water after the fact and used it to make corned beef hash. It worked out fine (in case anyone else finds themselves in the same situation). Thanks for sharing! Other than the salt issue (which I’m sure was my fault), the recipe was amazing.

    • ariana January 8, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

      Hi Randi,
      Thanks for your feedback! One issue with this recipe (copied from the book) is that it doesn’t specify the size of the brisket to use. Ours was pretty salty, but we ate it a piece at a time sliced thin– not piled into a sandwich. Might have been too much in that case. We’re curing our second one right now, and I will try to make a note of the thickness of our slab of beef, and how salty it became, and refine the recipe a bit. The solution would be to simply cure it for less time for thinner pieces of meat. One issue in execution could be whether the salt you used was coarse enough– finer would definitely result in a much saltier brine. Thank you so much for letting us all know how it came out!

    • nilo April 25, 2014 at 9:09 pm #

      Hi, Randi, I made this recipe many times before I finally learned a few tings on how to make the best pastrami(commercial grade).
      The best cut of meat is breast . the salt for the brine is coarse, the thickness of the meat is always more than 2,5inch, Must always use 30g of Prague Powder for each 4 liters of brine, otherwise you don’t get near the looks of real Pastrami, nor the texture. Finally you must leave the meat in the brine at least 8 days (better10days) to be able to break the meat fibers, cure the white grease and set the hemoglobin to right color.
      Follow these and i am sure you will have the perfect Pastrami. Good luck

  4. Mitch January 12, 2014 at 5:50 am #

    It came out as salty as a result of not using curing salt (salt mixed with sodium nitrate). The salt in the recipe overcompensates for not using a nitrate. Before you worry about nitrate intake, keep in mind that the vast majority of your nitrate intake comes from vegetables and your own saliva.

    • Robert Fowler September 11, 2018 at 10:46 pm #

      Am in the middle of my first batch of Pastrami, after reading the posts of the saltiness of the meat, I remember some thing that my father did when he cured meat for the family when he took the meat up from the salt he washed it in VERY hot water to remove excess salt. I do know that if you have a country ham that is too salty you can dip the slices in very hot water before cooking and it will remove much of the salt.

  5. Yuki Battan January 29, 2014 at 12:16 am #

    Is that corned beef?


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