I had always wanted to make pastrami but I thought, oh you know, it’s just too much work. Let me tell you, it is worth it! This rivals the pastrami I’ve had at the Carnegie deli, no lie.
So what is pastrami? It’s corned beef that’s smoked, then cooked until tender. And what is corned beef? It’s beef brisket that’s been “corned” or cured in a wet brine. In order to do this you need pink curing salt (aka sodium nitrite, Prague Powder #1, or “Insta-cure”). This is critical for food safety, and is very different than Pink Himalayan sea salt. For this application, I did 2 different pieces, one of the “point” and one of the “flat” to see if we preferred one over the other. I also used the cheapest brisket I could get (I mean cheap). It didn’t seem to make a bit of difference.
Combine all of your brine ingredients with a gallon of water and bring to a boil, then allow to cool.
Add the brine and meat to a large cambro. I put a plate on top to make sure the meat was submerged.
I then kept in the refrigerator for a week. Some websites say 10 days, some say a week. I had no issues getting the brine through all of the meat in a week, but my pieces of beef weren’t really super thick, either.
After a week, rub with spices and smoke. Here is where I diverged again from Kevin is cooking. I do not believe I have ever had pastrami that was rubbed with anything other than black pepper, and I was pretty confident based on the brine aroma that there was already some flavor complexity going on in the meat. I just rubbed them with black pepper.
We then smoked in our Masterbuilt smoker for 4 hours at 225 using hickory chips. I personally do NOT leave the vent closed, I think there is a risk for some acridity (is that a word?) if you do that. I leave the vent halfway open.
After smoking the meat is pretty stiff, and still needs to be cooked. I cooked in my Instant Pot Max for 40 minutes with a beer in the bottom and was rewarded with some amazing, tender meat…
You can see the point and the flat have a slightly different texture. I have to be honest and say…I thought both were amazing.
And then of course we made sandwiches. For this I used my amazing deli marbled rye bread
They were so incredible. I mean very gooey, but very very delicious.
This recipe was adapted from Kevin is Cooking.
Instant Pot Pastrami
- Instant Pot
- 4 quarts water 1 gallon
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons pickling spices
- 2 tsp pink curing salt
- 4 garlic cloves smashed
- 2 tablespoons or as needed black pepper
- Combine brine ingredients and bring to a boil. Allow to cool to room temperature. Add to a large cambro with 5 pounds beef brisket. Refrigerate for 1 week to 10 days depending on how thick the cut of your meat is. Remove from brine, pat dry, and rub with black pepper. Smoke in smoker at 225 degrees Fahrenheit for 4 hours. Add beer to bottom of Instant Pot and place pastrami on rack in Instant Pot. Cook at max pressure for 40 minutes or high pressure for 45. Quick release and check to see if the meat is tender. If not, add time. Slice across the grain and enjoy the amazingness!!