“When those waiters ask me if I want some fresh ground pepper, I ask if they have any aged pepper.” Andy Rooney

Pastrami covered with ground peppercorns and coriander seeds…fabulous and another successful recipe from Charcuterie. I don’t think that I’ll ever buy pastrami again from a deli; I’ll just buy a larger brisket the next time.

When I purchased the brisket for the corned beef, I found a smaller piece (2 and 1/2 lbs maybe) to make the pastrami, just trying it for the first time so I didn’t want to ruin a big hunk o meat. I did smoke it for about 2 hours on very low heat, used what wood I had, a blend of oak, cherry and apple, no hickory.  After the smoking time I did as the recipe suggested and finished it in a 225°oven for at least 2-3 hours (tested for tenderness along the way) yum.

You can do what the recipe suggests in the oven method directions, but I found the time to be off even for the small piece that I was making. I actually covered it tightly with foil from the beginning of the cooking time. After I tasted it and found it to be a little on the tough side I put the pastrami in a foil like basket to hold all the juices in, set it on a rack, added water to the pan and tightly covered the pan with heavy-duty foil, this was again roasted for another 1 and ½ hours. I saved the juices and after refrigeration, removed the congealed fat on top of the pan juices. Steam the pastrami to reheat and pour warmed pan juices over.

Make the pickling spice first.

From the original recipe:

“So this is what I do when I want both smoke and long slow cooking. I smoke the meat for a couple hours. Then I transfer it to a 200 to 250 degree oven to finish. With this pastrami, I would cook it in the oven for 30 to 60 minutes to bake the smoke on, and then cover it with foil and 1/2 cup of water and cook it for another 2 to 4 hours till it’s tender (the water is to make sure there’s plenty of steam).

When the weather is good, smoke them in a kettle grill or or follow your gas smoker or grill instructions for smoking. For kettle grill, you need wood chips for coals, chips are by far the best, giving long steady smoke). Soak the chips well, build a medium fire on one side of the grill, put your sodden chips on the coals and put your brisket on the cool side of the grill. Cook it covered for a few hours, adding coals and chips as needed. Or finish it as above in a low oven, covered.”

Pickling Spice

  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons hot red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoon ground mace
  • 2 small cinnamon sticks, crushed or broken into pieces
  • 2 to 4 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  1. Combine peppercorns, mustard seeds and coriander seeds in a small dry pan. Place over medium heat and stir until fragrant, being careful not to burn them; keep lid handy in case seeds pop. Crack peppercorns and seeds in mortar and pestle or with the side of a knife on cutting board.
  2. Combine with other spices, mix. Store in tightly sealed plastic or glass container.

Home-Cured Beef Pastrami

6 ounces or 3/4 cups Morton’s kosher salt (or 200 grams if measuring water in liters)
3 ounces or ½ cup sugar (100 grams)
2 teaspoons pink salt (sodium nitrite), optional
5 cloves garlic, smashed with the flat side of a knife
4 tablespoons pickling spice
1 5-pound beef brisket, the more fat it has the better


  • 1 tablespoon peppercorn, toasted and ground (or as needed)
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seed, toasted and ground (or as needed)
  1. In pot large enough to hold brisket, combine 1 gallon/4 liters of water with kosher salt, sugar, sodium nitrite (if using), garlic and 2 tablespoons pickling spice. Bring to a simmer, stirring until salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled.
  2. Place brisket in brine, weighted with a plate to keep it submerged; cover. Refrigerate for 2 days if it’s thin, a third day if it’s thick.
  3. Remove brisket from brine and rinse thoroughly. Refrigerate it for another day uncovered (this is best, to let cure equalize, but if you can’t wait, that’s ok too).
  4. Combine the pepper and coriander and coat the brisket with it. Smoke and cook the brisket, till tender, as described above. Slice thinly to serve. This will keep for a week in the refrigerated. Steam it to reheat or reheat covered in a microwave

Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

So here’s lunch and while not piled on like a Carnegie deli sandwich, my sandwich was delicious.

Pastrami Sandwich