I’ve made pastrami before using a dry rub similar to my bacon. This time, I opted for a brine curing process, assuming it would have better moisture in the meat. The inspiration? Michael Ruhlman’s book, Charcuterie, which is on my book list. He’s a great food writer and I’ve enjoyed both books I’ve read by him, with more on my queue.

Brisket is a great cut of meat, it really is. It’s often snubbed because it needs to be cooked slowly.  Good food takes time and those willing to invest time, our most expensive commodity, reap the rewards. A brine is a basic solution of salt, sugar, and water. However, endless flavorings can be added to it.  Pickling spices were added to this brine to lend the pastrami flavor to the meat.

Peppercorns and coriander was rubbed all over the meat before cooking it in the oven for aesthetic appeal more than anything.

After steaming, it can be stored in the freezer or refrigerator. Steaming is essential for good pastrami as this is how the moisture is attained.

Soft, peppery, and salty.  Just how I like my pastrami. The fat can be trimmed from the brisket, because it won’t be rendering into the meat like it does in smoking.

The pickling spice was made from scratch as well.  Using fresh spices is imperative. If it doesn’t look fresh or you can’t remember when you bought it, buy new stuff. Use a digital scale if available for recipe, since weight is more accurate than volume. This is key for the salt and sugar, but not as much for the pickling spice.

Pickling Spice: Makes 1 cup

2 T black peppercorns
2 T mustard seeds
2 T coriander seeds
2 T red chili flakes
2 T allspice berries
1 T ground mace, or 3/4 T nutmeg if mace is unavailable
2 3″ cinnamon sticks, broken into smaller pieces
24 bay leaves, crumbled
2 T whole cloves
1 T ground ginger

Toast the peppercorns, mustard, and coriander in a dry saute pan over medium low heat if desired. Pulse in a spice grinder for a few seconds. You don’t want spice powder, but you want to crack them open. Mix with the rest of the spices and store in a glass jar out of sunlight.

Inspired by Michael Ruhlman


1 gallon water
350 g kosher salt (1 1/2 cups of Diamond Kosher salt)
225 g white sugar (1 cup)
42 g pink salt (8 t)
1 T pickling spice
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
6 garlic cloves, crushed

5 lb brisket or smaller, fat removed
1 T coriander seeds
1 T black peppercorns

Combine all  brine ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil to dissolve salt and sugar.  Remove and cool completely. Add brisket and weight down with a plate or weight. Refrigerate for 3 days.

Remove from brine, rinse, and dry meat. Discard brine. Combine coriander and pepper and pulse in a grinder to break up seeds, but not too much into a powder.

Heat oven to 275 F and place beef in 1 inch of water in a roasting pan. Bring the water to a simmer on the stove, then place in the oven for 2 to 3 hours. Slice, serve, and store.

*next up…Have a Little Heart…*


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: