Beef Pastrami

Total Time:
511 hr 15 min
15 min
507 hr
4 hr

4 pounds

  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 6 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 2 teaspoons whole cloves
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons whole juniper berries, plus 1/3 cup crushed juniper berries
  • 16 cups (or 4 quarts) water
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1 (4 to 5 pound) beef brisket
  • 2/3 cup coarsely ground black pepper

In a small mixing bowl, combine the peppercorns, thyme, bay leaves, cloves, garlic, and whole juniper berries. In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine the water, brown sugar and salt. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar and salt. Remove from the heat and add dry spice mixture and steep for 1 hour. Place the brisket in a glass or plastic container. Pour the seasoned brine to cover the brisket completely. Cover and refrigerate for 3 weeks, turning the brisket every couple of days.

Preheat the smoker according to the manufacturer's directions.

Remove the brisket from the marinade, and pat dry. Discard the marinade. Combine the remaining 1/3 cup crushed juniper berries and ground black pepper in a small bowl. Using the palm and heel of your hand, press 2/3 of the berry and pepper mixture into the brisket. Press the remaining mixture into the other side. Place the brisket in the smoker and smoke for about 4 hours. Remove from the smoker and cool for 30 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely. Slice into thin slices and serve.

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    This is not like the pastrami I used to eat and love in Austin but it has a taste all it's own. Now that I've had a couple of Reuben paninis, I think it might even be better. This is beyond tender.
    I have not finished this dish but I have two thoughts on preventing the slimy meat or off odor. First of all, this recipe fails to describe two problems boiling the water cures and that is bacteria in the water and preventing possible botulism from the fresh garlic. Immediately add the dry ingredients/garlic after the water boils and the salt/sugar dissolves. It is ok that it is taken off the heat a allowed to steep. The second is preparation of the curing container, it should be washed in soapy water with 1/4 tsp of bleach added, rinsed well, and air dried. I wished a had just picked up the extra big ziplock bag to eliminate this step. Food grade (throwaway gloves should be used if you are turning by hand. I'll let you know how this turns out.
    My husband loves pastrami and decided to try this recipe, it's still in the smoker as we speak. Although, I am worried because when I pulled the meat out of the brine (3 weeks later it was rather "slimy". I went ahead and put it in the smoker anyway. I checked it a few minutes ago and cut a tiny piece from the end tip and the meat was slightly sour to my taste. Does this mean it went bad in the fridge? Was that the cause of the sliminess? I have yet to boil it stove top for another 30 minutes, hopefully that washes/ boils away the sour-like taste. Fingers crossed, but overall it's looking good and the house smells like pastrami already... 3.5 hours in!
    i haven't try this recipe yet, but for sure i would truly love it. the best is, NO HARMFUL PRESERVATIVES.
    my understanding is that this should be brined and smoked, not cooked? Isn't an internal temp of 165-175 too much??
    You need coriander seeds with the black peppercorns to get the true pastrami flavor.
    This recipe is exactly like the Beef Pastrami recipe of Emeril's that is down further on the list except that it doesn't include the step after smoking where you boil the pastrami for two hours on the stove. I'm not surprised that some of the reviewers said that the pastrami was dry! If you follow the other recipe with the boiling after the smoking, you will get a nice tender juicy piece of meat! It's wonderful!!
    I followed this recipe to the letter!, and Pastrami it is NOT! ! ! It tastes like cooked beef with a pastrami FLAVOR from the seasonings, NOT at ALL like the pastrami you get from the Deli! IT IS HORRIBLE ! ! !
    I followed this recipe perfectly. We started with a 4 lb first cut with a nice layer of fat on top. But the end product was hardly edible - very, very salty.

    We had to guess whether to cold smoke or hot smoke -- ended up keeping the heat between 180 and 200 degrees -- until internal temperature of the meat reached 165 degrees. We also guessed about type of wood to use, and decided on hickory chunks.

    We live in Tucson now and was salivating over our very missed NY pastrami. What a disappointment. Wonder what others did that rated this 4 and 5 stars?
    Is the brine suppose to get thick and slimy?
    This smells great, but frankly it looks like a camel sneezed in my refrigerator.

    If I'm brewing something we shouldn't consume, I'd like to know about it.

    It only turned soupy in the last couple of days.

    Thanks in advance.
    i followed this recipe almost exactly except i checked my meat's internal temperature after three hours in the smoker. it was 175 degrees F. perfect and DONE.

    here are photos and step by step notes of me following this recipe:

    Sounds great! But haven't made it yet. What kind of wood chips should be used???
    Emeril, thank you for sharing the most fabulous pastrami recipe I have ever tried. The flavor was perfect and it was a huge hit with the fam! It will definately make an encore performance at my next party! Thanks again!
    I made this with a big 5 lb., whole trimmed brisket cut into thirds and brined in a big baggie over the last 3 weeks. I smoked 2/3 of it in our Brinkman smoker with hickory wood. The other third I just slow-cooked (275?)in the oven for 5 hours.
    Both are very good, but somewhat different.
    Neither style is the bright red you'd get in a traditional deli- but a roast beef brown color. Both have a somewhat different taste than the deli's. The taste of the unsmoked version is a lot like corned beef.
    The smoked version, which I actually smoked for an hour and slow cooked in the oven for 3 hours, tastes like a cross between pastrami and Texas style hickory-smoked barbeque brisket. I don't know which I like better, but since we have so much, it's good to have both.
    This is an excellent, though not authentically N.Y. deli style pastrami that's very good sliced thin, warmed and stacked on rye bread. Close you eyes to the color and it's very close...and at $1.49 a pound on sale, a whole lot cheaper!
    An "Unwrapped" program last week featured deli pastrami and showed the brisket being seasoned with crushed coriander instead of the juniper this recipe calls for, then cold smoked, and then baked. I would be very interested to know what this version would taste like.
    the only thing I found difficult were finding juniper berries
    An awesome recipe for pastrami. I used all Emerils ingredients except the salt, as I used a corned silverside rather than brisket, and substituted Manuka Honey for the brown sugar. The silverside was mainated for 5 days then slow cooked in the mixture for an hour, then smoked on a low heat using manuka woodchips and green leaves for 2 hours. I now have orders from all my family! Top recipe, Emeril!


    Cincinnati is really lacking a good New York style deli. It's great to be able to make it myself!
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    Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse