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First Time Curing Corned Beef / Pastrami

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

So I tried my hand at curing a brisket.  I followed the steps found here --> http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/115377/pastrami-from-scratch-lots-of-q-view.


Started with an 18 lb brisket purchased at Costco when they had the prime on sale for $2.79 / lb.


After trimming, I ended up with ~15 lbs. of meat.  I cut the point off and then cut the flat in two.  They were each ~5 lbs. each.



Mixed up the brine.  This is the same recipe found in the original post.  Credit to SmokinAl.


1 gal water

3 level Tbls cure#1

1/3 cu kosher salt

1/3 cu brown sugar

1/3 cu pickling spices

3 bay leaves

1 Tbls granulated garlic.



I have a large, deep, stainless steel steam table food tray, and I could have just left the meat brine mixture in the tray, but, I voted to use a large plastic bag.  I found these at the local hardware store.  They are Ziplock bags.  I called Johnson & Johnson to check if they are food safe because they are marketed as a storage bag with clothing pictured on the box.  Johnson & Johnson said they definitely food safe.



All sealed up and ready to go in the fridge for 10 days.


post #2 of 15
Watching this.
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

I got a little caught up with projects and work, so the brisket did not come out of the brine for 14 days.


Soaked two of the pieces in water for 2 hours, changing the water once.  The third piece went into the freezer for corned beef on Saint Patrick's Day.



These two are gonna be smoked for pastrami.



I put some mustard on just to help the pepper stick. 



All peppered up and ready to hit the smoke.  Unfortunately this is about 9 pm and I can't start the smoke tonight.  These beauties are going to have to wait until tomorrow.  Back in the fridge for the night, I'll start the smoker in the morning.


post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 

Started the smoker up this morning.  It's a little brisk here in Minnesota so I decided I better get a sweatshirt on.  Temp outside 7° F.  Wind Chill -8° F !!??



It takes about an hour to warm up the Jambo.  I thought it would take longer in this cold weather, but it was ready to go in just under an hour.  Had the wonderful TBS coming out the stack.



Time to get down to business.



These poor hunks of cow look so lonely in the big pit, all by themselves.  I wish I would have planned ahead and had some chicken or ribs to put on.  They would have been done just in time for lunch.  Oh well, I can always fire her up again tomorrow.


post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 

I put the corned beef on at 10 am.  Kept the pit at ~225° ±25°.  I smoked the corned beef until I got the color I wanted.  The IT of the meat was ~170°.  Then I wrapped with pink butcher paper.  At this point the meat had been on for ~7 hours.  I have not used the butcher paper in the past with any of my briskets, but I have read some good things about it, so I decided to give it a try.  I am going to do a side by side test on this, but that will have to be another thread.


I was really impressed with the paper wrap. In only 2 hours, my corned beef went from ~170° IT, to 203° IT.  Total cook time for the two 5 lb pieces, 9 hours to an IT of 203°


I pulled the (now) Pastrami off and placed into a cooler rest and finish.


One hour later and I think it's time to slice.  The point is on the right, and the half flat is on the left.



I'm so nervous.  It's like a first kiss.  Will it be amazing, or will it be a disaster?  I've got over 2 weeks of my life in this thing.  I almost wet myself as I carved into it.



WOW!  It actually worked, and it tastes amazing.  My kids are even enjoying it.  I hope there is enough left for sammys tomorrow.



For anyone considering trying your hand at curing, I say give 'er a go.  This process was so easy.  Read the original post, and follow along like I did.  I was amazed how great this tastes.  I have never had homemade pastrami, and I can tell you now, I have been missing out.  This is so much better than store bought. 


Big Thanks to SmokinAl for the original post giving me the courage to try.

post #6 of 15
Great looking pastrami! Nice smoke!

post #7 of 15

WOW man you really knocked that one out of the park!


First time making pastrami from scratch!




Also, anybody that smokes in that weather has to be hard core!


Points to you sir!!



post #8 of 15

Good lookin hunk o meat.  I'm going to have to give pastrami a go.

post #9 of 15

Nice looking pastrami.  I just did one of these too for the first time and will do many more for sure.  Good work!



post #10 of 15
That looks so good. I have been considering doing this. One thing I want to do is a rueben fatty with homemade sauerkraut and pastrami. Thanks for the post.
post #11 of 15
Great looking pastrami. Bet it tastes as good as it looks.

I've made pastrami from a corn beef, and made my own venison pastrami, but just put my first flat in the brine the other day.
Hopefully mine comes out as well as yours.

post #12 of 15

Concrats on the Pastrami, 


Looks Great

post #13 of 15

Let's see, it tastes great, it looks great, sounds like a great first pastrami.


Points for a great result on the first try!



post #14 of 15

What wood did you use for the smoke?

post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
I use red & white oak for all my smoking. I am lucky to have an abundant, cheap local supplier.
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