August 2017FEATURE




By Alex the Kosherologist

Takes approximately 7-8  days

After a successful attempt at making my own corned beef brisket from scratch (brining/pickling it myself), I decided to try again, this time taking it one step further to make awesome home-made pastrami. Making your own corned beef pastrami is fun (well, I think of it as such), easy, and quick (minus the brining/waiting time, that is) and is a great way to ensure that you are enjoying top quality beef pastrami that you can boast you prepared like a true culinary genius (even though you don’t have to be one). The process of making corned beef and pastrami begins with the same process: brining/corning the meat. After the brining process has finished (which in this case is about 5-6 days), you can boil up the brisket and call it corned beef; or you can encrust it in a pepper-coriander-mustard seed rub and cook it up and call it pastrami. While traditional pastrami is prepared by smoking it on a grill or in a smoker, my recipe takes a shortcut and calls to prepare the brisket in the oven, adding smoked paprika to the spice blend to lend it’s smokiness. I prepared this pastrami using both a 1st and 2nd cut brisket- note that 2nd cut will have more marbled fat.

Brining the brisket gives the beef that unique authentic corned beef/pastrami flavor, as well as the trademark bright pink color (thanks to the curing salts). To make the brine for corned beef and pastrami, you need to acquire nitrate curing salts or Morton’s Tender Quick. Morton’s Tender Quick is easier for the home cook  to purchase and is specially crafted for home cooking (we don’t really need to be messing around with nitrates, nitrites, etc. etc.).



5-6 lb brisket


For the dry brine cure

5 TBS. Morton’s Tender Quick

2 TBS light brown sugar

1 TBS. ground black pepper

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. ground bay leaves

1 tsp. ground allspice

1/2 tsp. garlic powder



  1. Mix together all of the spices and Morton’s Tender Quick.
  2. Rinse the brisket and pat it dry.
  3. Thoroughly rub the spice mixture into all sides of the brisket and place in a large, sealed zip-lock bag.
  4. Place in the refrigerator and allow to cure for 5 days per inch of meat thickness (about 5-6 days for a 5-6 lb. brisket).If you want to make a traditional corned-beef  after the brining/curing period has ended, you can prepare the brisket by covering it with water and bringing it to a boil, lowering the heat to a simmer and continue to cook until tender (about 3-4 hours). But we’re going an extra step and making pastrami!

    For the Pastrami Spice Blend

2 TBS. coriander seeds

2 TBS. yellow mustard seeds

2 TBS. dark brown sugar

1 TBS. smoked paprika

1/2 tsp. granulated garlic

1/8 tsp. ground cloves

2 TBS. ground black pepper



  1. Toast the coriander and mustard seeds in a frying pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the seeds are fragrant and lightly browned-about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Allow to cool and transfer to a food processor or blender. Add the brown sugar, paprika, garlic, and cloves and pulse until the seeds are well ground and all the spices are well blended. Add the pepper and stir well.
    3. Remove the brisket from the fridge and thoroughly rub the pastrami spice mixture into all sides of the brisket.
  3. Return to the refrigerator overnight to allow the pastrami spice  to impart it’s flavor.
  4. When ready to cook the pastrami, preheat oven to 240°F.
  5. Generously grease a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil with cooking oil spray (such as PAM) and wrap the foil tightly around the pepper-encrusted pastrami. Tightly wrap the pastrami in 5more layers of aluminum foil (these do not have to be greased-FYI) and place in the oven to slow-roast for 5 hours.
  6. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Return the pastrami- still wrapped in all of the foil- to the refrigerator and allow to rest overnight.
  7. After it’s overnight “beauty rest”, remove the pastrami from all 6 of it’s foil wrappings and place in a large roasting dish (such as Pyrex). Preheat oven to 400°F and place the pastrami in for 15 minutes, uncovered, to allow the crust to be “sealed on”. Return to the refrigerator to allow to cool. When completely cooled, remove the pastrami and slice into very thin strips. That’s all folks! It’s that easy!


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