If you want to cooks something unique and outstanding, spend the time to do this recipe – I promise it will be a huge hit!
First off, you need a brisket to brine. The recipe follows our brisket smoking method with the exception of the brining process, which is what turns this into amazing Pastrami.
We suggest using a Prime brisket, but due to the time you cure the brisket, choice and select will work fine as well. We recommend a 8 - 12 pound brisket for Pastrami.
You can purchase a trimmed brisket to make life easier, just make sure there is enough fat (1/4 inch minimum). If you get a whole brisket that hasn't been trimmed, be sure to trim it up and leave at least a 1/4 inch fat on the top.
You want to brine the brisket for 3 - 4 WEEKS depending on how much time you have. You read this right, 21 days minimum and if you can do a month that's perfection!
Add 2 gallons of water to a pot and add the brine recipe ingredients. Bring the water to a boil and simmer until all the ingredients are dissolved (you won't be able to dissolve the pickling spices, but that's okay).
After the simmer, get the water to room temperature by cooling the pot in the refrigerator or adding ice. After the water is cool, insert the brisket into a food safe container or bucket and make sure it's fully submerged.
Cover the top of the container with a lid or foil and put in the refrigerator for 3 - 4 weeks. At this point, you just let it sit and no need to do anything.
Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl until it is completely blended. Smash any clumps with a spoon if necessary.
Remove the brisket from the container you have been brining it in and rinse well with water. You want to remove any spices from the brisket. Pat the brisket dry and put on a baking sheet or large pan.
Use an adhesive to rub all over the brisket so the rub can stick to the brisket. Options include Yellow Mustard, Olive Oil or Water. Don't worry, with the long cook there won't be any flavor impact to using mustard or olive oil.
Generously apply the rub with your hands all over the brisket evenly - the thicker you have the rub on the better the flavor and crust on the brisket.
Now start getting the smoker ready and let that brisket get to room temperature.
Heat the Ceramic Cooker or Smoker to 275 degrees.
As a rule of thumb, you will need to cook the brisket 45 minutes per pound at this temperature (example: a 12 pound brisket should take 9 hours). Keep in mind, the thickness of the brisket has a lot to do with the duration of the smoke process.
Smoke the meat with your favorite wood. Flaming Rooster recommends Oak for Pastrami.
Having a good thermometer that has 2 probes (one for the grill temperature and the other for the meat temperature) is critical to grilling and smoking meat.
Insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the brisket and close the lid.
Smoke the meat until the thickest part of the brisket reaches a minimum of 185 degrees. You will probably experience 'the stall' where your brisket gets stuck around 180 degrees. Be patient! After 185 degrees the fat of the brisket will melt, resulting in moist, tender and much better tasting brisket.
When the brisket gets to 185 degrees, remove it from the smoker and wrap it in BUTCHER PAPER. Do not substitute butcher paper with parchment paper - parchment paper contains wax.
Using the butcher paper, make sure the entire brisket is wrapped and then reinsert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the brisket.
At this point, smoke no longer matters so don't worry if you are generating any smoke at this point.
Once the brisket reaches at least 204 degrees, remove it from the smoker. Why 204 instead of 185? At 185, the brisket is fully cooked, but the fat isn't fully melted, which renders great flavor throughout the brisket. Keeping it on to 204 degrees will melt that fat - be patient and keep it on that last 15 degrees!
Resting the brisket is a critical part to the process that is often overlooking. Why is resting the brisket so important? If you take it right off the smoker, that beef has been gradually increasing in temperature for 8+ hours. The temperature and juices need time to settle. During the resting process all the juices (especially from that rendered fat) are staying inside that brisket, which will amplify the flavor.
If you are serving it right after taking it off the smoker, put it on a baking pan and leave it uncovered on the counter for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, slice and serve - it will still be plenty hot!
If you have some time (an hour or more) before you need to serve it: Keep it wrapped in the butcher paper and put it in a cooler. It will stay piping hot for many hours. Once you are ready to serve it, take it out, unwrap it and let it rest uncovered for 15 minutes.
This mouth watering pastrami will be devoured on it's on, but here are some ideas:
- Pastrami Sandwiches: Rye Bread, Spicy Brown Mustard and some kosher dill pickles with sliced Pastrami Meat
- Pastrami Plate: This is great for parties. It's basically a deconstructed Pastrami sandwich. On a plate, toast some rye bread and cut it in 1" x 1" pieces. Sliced Dill pickles, slices pickled onions, and spicy brown mustard.
If you happen to have any left, dice the remainder and make some homemade chili.