Could it be even easier than bacon? Unbelieveably, yes. In fact, if you skip the corning step, you can make your own pastrami at home in a weekend and with nothing more than a fridge, a smoker and some spices.
You may recall that I was shocked to learn that homemade bacon was within my humble reach, when my friend showed up at my house with pork bellies, already cured for a few days (with just salt and sugar), and all we had to do was slap them onto my trusty smoker for a few hours to make them into delicious, homemade, nitrate-free bacon. It was epic.
Such was my surprise when I happened upon a pin-worthy post from Coconut and Lime, declaring that a homemads pastrami could also be mine, if all I did was coat a corned beef brisket with brown sugar, paprika, coriander and pepper, let it sit overnight, and smoke it. To be fair, I could have done this COMPLETELY from scratch if I had 5 days to brine a brisket in the corning spices and brine, but who wants to wait that long when a decent corned beef brisket is no further away than my grocer’s meat counter? Not I. Not once I discovered how easy this was.
Step one. Buy or make a corned beef brisket. I bought.
Step two: Soak it in water and rinse it well. Coat it in freshly ground coriander and black pepper, plus paprika and a small amount of sugar (no more than a tablespoon). Rub the spices in there and make sure it sticks.
Step three: smoke the brisket over mesquite wood chips (or another similarly fragrant and delicious smoke) for about 6 hours – don’t let the smoker temperature get above 250 — until the internal temperature of the meat has reached 165.
Step four: Let the meat rest for at least a couple hours, or overnight. Slice against the grain into thick, meaty slices.
For best results, *add those thick slices of pastrami to a sour rye sandwich with a generously-sliced slab of gruyere or swiss cheese. Be sure to coat the bread with a dollop of the best homemade mustard you have. The taste will be worth it.
**Note: after tasting this a few ways, I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t pastrami-y enough for me. It tastes more like a fantastically flavored smoked brisket, and the curing flavor wasn’t as apparent as I would like. I would recommend that you, and next time I make this I will, coat the meat and let it sit for a couple of days instead of just overnight.