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Newbie - Making First Pastrami

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I was excited about my first attempt at making pastrami using a brine method.  I found some recipes on the net and picked different ingredients from each.  Then made it up and put it in the fridge yesterday.  All the recipes I have read called for pink salt (pragues powder #1) which I was not able to locate at any food store.  Instead, I found Morton's Tender Quick and used that.  I read the directions on the back and followed those but now I am doubting myself on whether it's correct or not.  So I could use some expert advice on whether the following recipe will turn out to be safe to eat.


5 - 7 pound brisket trimmed


1 gallon of water

1 cup of kosher salt

1 cup of Morton's Tender Quick

2 teapoon course ground pepper

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

8 cloves of garlic

1 cut red onion

6 bay leaves

1 teaspoon allspice


Heated water, dissolved ingredients, cooled water and placed in a 2 gallon ziploc bag with brisket.  I was going to leave it in the fridge for 12 - 13 days.


I know everyone will have a different opinion on the ingredients but my main concern is whether the amount of Tender Quick is too little or too much.  Based on my readings it appears that some say 1 tablespoon per pound and if that's the case then I have too much MTQ (1 cup = 16 tablespoons?) instead of 5 - 7 tablespoons.  Then reading the back of the MTQ package it states, for brining dissolve 1 cup in to 4 cups of water.  I just added the 1 cup but now not sure if it meant 1 cup for every 4 cups of water.  If so, then I have too little of MTQ in 1 gallon of water (16 cups).  


Oh so much to learn!!!  At this point any advice is greatly appreciated!!!

post #2 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thoughts anyone?
post #3 of 7
Wish I could help. I have only made pastrami's by taking a corned beef and de-salinating it.

Good luck with the cure
post #4 of 7

A TQ Brine uses 1C per Quart of water, NO addional Salt. That is a salty brine, you will need to soak the meat in fresh water for several hours, I would go 8 hours changing water every 2 hours. Test fry a piece of brisket every couple of hours until you reach the salt level you like. You are still early in the game. Dump the brine you have and start again with a properly made TQ Brine....JJ


BTW...Bring everything BUT the TQ to a simmer then cool to 100°F and add the TQ, mix untill disolved. It is thought that Cure can breakdown at high temps, though, opinions on this vary. I don't take chances...

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Chef JJ, Thanks for the info.


I had a thought, would it be safe if I could purchase some pink salt and add the needed amount into the existing brine?  Do you think that would work?

post #6 of 7
Originally Posted by crazyred View Post

Chef JJ, Thanks for the info.


I had a thought, would it be safe if I could purchase some pink salt and add the needed amount into the existing brine?  Do you think that would work?


The measurement of cure is critical, the biggest issue being adding too much. There is a pretty broad range of safe and effective amounts of Sodium Nitrite. In this case and this case ONLY!!!! You would be fine adding 1 level Tablespoon of Cure #1 (Pink Salt) to that gallon of brine. As I stated above, making a fresh brine would be the best choice...JJ

post #7 of 7
I'd say dump the brine and start over. The ingredients aren't expensive, so why not just make another brine with the correct amounts?
I personally am not a fan of TQ brine, but if that's all you have at least use the correct ratio. As JJ stated, TQ brine requires no additional salt.
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