Pastrami is beef brisket that is corned, then smoked, rather than boiled like a traditional corned beef. This recipe doesn’t use a corned beef from the market but starts with a fresh beef brisket and cures (or corns) it for four weeks. This recipe uses smoked sea salt to get that smoky flavor, but it then is cooked on the gas grill to make things a whole lot easier. You can use this recipe with regular sea salt rather than smoked sea salt if you want to use the cured brisket for a boiled corned beef. Can’t find smoked sea salt? Check out Mountain Rose Herbs. They have an excellent sea salt that is slow smoked over Pacific Alder wood, which gives it an incredible, smoky flavor which is passed on to foods seasoned with it.
1 beef brisket, about 5 pounds
3 tablespoons of smoked sea salt
3 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of dried rosemary
1 tablespoon of coriander seed
1 teaspoon of mustard seed
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 teaspoon of dried onion granules
1 teaspoon of celery seeds
1 teaspoon of freeze-dried beet powder
Put all the ingredients except for the beef brisket into a spice grinder or coffee bean grinder. Grind until the spices and salt are pulverized. Rub this dry spice and salt mix all over the beef brisket. Put the spiced beef brisket into a gallon sized resealable plastic bag. Put this bag into a casserole or baking dish and place another baking dish over it. You will want to use something to weigh down the brisket and help push the salt and spices into the meat. This can be almost anything: a jar of tomato sauce, a bottle of soda or a bag of carrots will all work. You are going to leave the beef brisket in your refrigerator for 4 weeks, flipping it over every 2 days. I know this will seem strange to some people and you may think the beef will rot in 4 weeks, but trust me, it will not. This long salt and sugar soak will “cure” the brisket, keeping it preserved.
Once the four weeks have passed take the brisket out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature before grilling it. You want to cook the brisket very slowly over indirect heat on a somewhat cool section of your gas grill. You are looking for a very low ambient temperature of around 200 degrees F. Turn the corned beef brisket over every hour and cook it until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F; this should take about 8 hours.
Let the Pastrami rest for 15 minutes before slicing. Be sure to cut it across the grain rather than with it, or you will end up with tough pieces of Pastrami. Pastrami is absolutely perfect when served on grilled rye bread with mustard. Enjoy!