Rinse the brisket under cold running water and blot dry with paper towels.
Trim the brisket to leave a ¼-inch cap of fat to melt over the meat while smoking. Any less and the brisket will dry out; any more, and will prevent the seasoning from penetrating the meat; set aside.
Combine all the brine ingredients together, except for the water in a large bowl. Stir with a whisk to ensure there are no clumps. Add the water and stir until the salt has dissolved.
Injecting the Meat (optional)
To help the curing salt penetrate the meat, you can use a meat injector, to inject the brine into the brisket. This step is optional and may or may not help the cure.To inject the meat, you will need about ½ cup of the brine solution. Inject some of the brine every one to two inches, about halfway into the thickness of the meat to form small pockets.
Brine and Cure the Brisket Into Corned Beef
Place the meat inside a large 2-gallon zip-top bag.
Pour all the brine inside. Squeeze as much air out of the bag as you can and seal tight.
Place the bag inside a deep casserole dish large enough to hold it or double-bag to ensure it doesn’t leak.Briner Bucket: Alternatively, you can use a briner bucket to submerge the meat into the brine solution to cure. It’s cleaner with less hassle.
Leave the meat to cure inside the refrigerator for about 6 days (minimum of 5 days / maximum of 10 days).
Flip the brisket once every 24-hours to ensure even contact with the meat.
The result of the curing process is corned beef.
Rub the Corned Beef for Smoking
The flavors inside the corned beef have already begun to develop from the brine. To take the flavors a step further we developed a rub. This will help the pastrami form a flavorful crust (also known as bark)on the outside of the smoked pastrami.
Remove the meat from the brine, give it a good rinse under cool running water.
Blot the corned beef dry with paper towels.
Place the corned beef fat-cap down onto a large cutting board or sheet pan.
Generously sprinkle the meat with the rub on both sides and the top (non-fat-cap-side, pressing it into the surface to help it adhere. The fat-cap side will be done after placing it on the smoker. Set aside while preparing the smoker.
Fire Up the Grill or Smoker
Prepare the grill or smoker for indirect heat and preheat it to between 225 and 250 degrees F.
Place a pan of water underneath where you will be placing the meat. The warm water helps stabilize the temperature inside the grill.
To cook using the snake method lay a chain of charcoal in a half-circle along the outer edge of the grill. There should be 3 layers with 2 charcoals on the bottom with one charcoal on top. Place a chunk of maple wood every few inches along the top of the “snake”.
Turn the charcoal chimney upside down and light only a small handful of charcoal. When the charcoals are hot, you just drop the lit coals onto one end of the “snake” to start the cook.
Smoke the Corned Beef
When the coals are ready to cook, place the corned beef on the hot grate over the drip pan, fat side up. Sprinkle the other fat cap with the remaining rub, insert the
Close the lid and bring the temperature back up to 225 degrees F, using the vents to regulate the temperature.
Low and Slow
Make sure the grill or smoker stays as close to 225 degrees F as possible. Resist the temptation to open the lid unless you need to add more charcoal or soaked wood chips to maintain temperature and smoke.
Nevermind the Stall
When the internal temperature of the pastrami reaches about 150 to 160 degrees F, the surface evaporation of the pastrami causes the meat’s internal temperature to plateau. Pitmasters call this “the stall.” Don’t panic. Just wait out the stall.
Wrap the Meat and Crank Up the Heat!
Traditionally, the pastrami is taken off the smoke at 150 degrees F and then is steamed until it reaches an internal temperature of about 200 degrees F.
Smoke the pastrami until a nice “bark” (outside crust) forms and the internal temperature is close to 150 degrees (ours was about 160 when we were happy with the color). Remove the temperature probe and wrap the meat in aluminum foil just like you would a beef brisket for the duration of the cook.
Once the meat is wrapped you can also increase the temperature of the grill since the foil will keep it from drying out. Set up the grill for indirect heat and crank up the heat! Make sure you reinsert the temperature probe through the foil so you can continue to monitor the temperature.
Test for Doneness
The pastrami is done when the internal temperature is about 190 to 195 degrees F. This can take anywhere from 4 to 6 hours, but as always go by temperature and not time.
The size and weight of the meat are something to take into consideration. Monitor the meat thermometer to help check for doneness. Even a simple meat thermometer will be your best friend when smoking meat and it always tells the truth!
When is the Pastrami Done?
The ideal temperature of a properly smoked pastrami is 200 degrees F. Once those tissues get broken down the smoked pastrami will pretty much melt in your mouth. Any hotter than 200 degrees F could overcook the meat.Tip: A pastrami can increase by another 10 degrees even if it has been removed from the smoker or grill. Pastrami can increase by another 10 degrees even if it has been removed from the smoker or grill.
The Cooldown and Slicing
ALWAYS allow your smoked pastrami to rest, covered in foil at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before carving.
Turn the meat fat side up so the juices will run onto the meat as you slice. Slice thinly using the sharpest knife you own, a mandoline or food slicer against the grain of the meat.
If serving right away, only slice off what you need.
Perfectly cooked pastrami should be moist and juicy. You can serve it simply sliced on a plate if you so desire.
Most often this complex smoky meat is most often enjoyed as a Pastrami Sandwich, with warm thinly sliced meat loaded on freshly baked rye bread, laced with Swiss cheese, and dripping with creamy homemade thousand island dressing.
About The Water Pan: You will need to check the water pan every couple of hours to ensure the water hasn’t evaporated completely. Add more water as necessary, but make sure that it is preheated. Fill it with warm water. Never fill the pan with cold water. It will take longer to warm and stall out your cook.How To Reheat Pastrami: David and I have found the best way to reheat pastrami is in a skillet. Simply add slices of pastrami to a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat with any of the leftover au jus and a little splash of water. Allow it to steam until it is warmed through.How to Store Pastrami: Wrap any remaining unsliced pastrami back inside the foil with the nature au jus. Let it cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until needed. You can store the smoked pastrami in the refrigerator for up to 7 to 10 days.How To Freeze Pastrami: To further extend the life you can freeze the smoked pastrami for up to 3 months. Wrap it tightly in freezer paper or place it in a zip-top freezer bag, sealing as much air out as possible.
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