Pastrami cure

I'm searching for a reliable pastrami home cure. I tried a Ruhlman recipe which worked although not as well I would have liked. PLEASE don't Google it for me. I can do that myself. I'd like to hear from experience. I just bought a big a** deli slicer.

  • Posted by: pierino
  • January 25, 2013


James M. February 26, 2016
I love this line - I asked the fellow taking my order "Is it pastrami, or is it corned beef?" "It's meat," came the answer.
usuba D. January 30, 2013
At least once a year when I get the blues & am I in or near NYC, I make a pilgrimage to Katz deli for hot pastrami on rye with slaw & mustard . . possibly one of the best comfort foods in the world. NYC has the best pastrami available, but I do know the dirty little secret of all these famous delis . . they all get the pastrami from the same facility, but each deli has their tweak added to the basic pastrami made at this plant (sorry, but I am not allowed to tell). BUT the best pastrami I have ever had was in a deli I fell into while lost in the back streets of Copenhagen last year. It was a beef plate dry cured and smoked with seasoning (as best as I could dissect, since the owner refused to give me the recipe) that looked like coarse ground whole coriander seed, black pepper, dehydrated garlic, cinnamon, nutmeg, hot pimenton and maybe allspice or clove with a touch of sugar. Even though it was dry cured, since it was a plate, it was so moist and tender. Might be a direction to try. I get the feeling you will know what to do.
pierino January 31, 2013
Usuba Dashi, thank you (and everyone)for your helpful comments. I know you travel in the meat world so I take what you have to say seriously. At this point I think I have the cure and the spice rub down to my own satisfaction. The smoking part is tricky because it's a cold smoke, my first effort turned out a bit on the well done side. It's a two stage process. You first smoke the brisket and then you steam it. It's a challenge but one I love to take on.
bugbitten January 28, 2013
Pierino, at the risk of hogging up space on this server, I'm going to offer a few observations to keep up your morale as you experiment. To wit: I recently got to try the pastrami from a stand in the spice market in Istanbul; it was much more like spiced beef and was cut from a round roast, dry and disappointing. In Israel we were informed that deli was available, but we did not seek it out. My impression was that delicatessen was looked on like the Irish Irish look on corned beef and cabbage--a travesty of the real culture.
Years ago while staying with my petite amie ancien, I lined up at one of the popular Montreal "smoked meat" delis on St Laurent. I asked the fellow taking my order "Is it pastrami, or is it corned beef?" "It's meat," came the answer. The rye bread and mustard were familiar.
Almost finally, when in LA stop at Art's on Ventura, just west of Laurel Canyon. I was a regular there in the late 80's and they were pretty friendly after a while. You might get them to clue you in on their spice mix, or not.
Finally, you'll have to start woking up the mustard recipe. "it's part of the meat," I was once told by a deliman at Fine&Shapiro, which is the best deli in NYC IMHO. Open since 1929, they still offer corned beef and cabbage, chicken chow mein and meatballs and spaghetti, all kosher. It's a trip.

pierino January 31, 2013
Bugbitten I have not been to Art's but it has an excellent reptuation. And I have to see my tax man in Calabassas next week so I will try to swing by. Langer's on Alvarado in the McArthur Park area (kind of dodgy at night) is LA's best deli.
Maedl January 28, 2013
Did you come across this site in your research phase?
It's written by a Romanian, who talks about modern recipes, but he also has a link to traditional methods, which I thought was very interesting.
trampledbygeese January 28, 2013
That's a very interesting link. I always assumed pastrami was made with beef, but they use lamb/mutton as well as goose.

That gets me thinking...I've got a whole lamb arriving from a local farmer tomorrow...hmmm... yummy.
Maedl January 26, 2013
Have you checked Jennie Grossinger's The Art ofJewish Cookomg? Idon't have access to my copy, but I think she is the best reference for East European Jewish recipes.
pierino January 27, 2013
Maedl when I try to come up with a new recipe I do a lot of research, especially if it's something traditional with a history behind it. I have a number of reference books on Jewish cooking but the ones I own make no reference to pastrami including ashkinazi. Hell, I'm not even Jewish but I'm on the quest.
Bugbitten, the Ruhlman recipe also calls for coriander so I'm beginning to think it's an essential part of the "rub". I added a couple of secret ingredients of my own.
Tonight will be the test where I finally steam it up. When I slow smoked it I used oak which is pretty strong. But that's what I had on hand. I'm hoping to pick up a "sweeter" wood like cherry or hickory next week when I venture back into darkest LA.
pierino January 25, 2013
Thank you for your thoughtful answers. To put it in some perspective I've made perhaps one hundred paellas but only one pastrami. So I have some learning to do. What vexed me about Ruhlman's recipe (from his web site) was that it was so awkwardly written, when normally he is artculate and precise. But I did come cross this today Katz's Deli is the grail of pastrami for me so next time I'll aim for this. And yes, I do love a fatty piece of brisket.
bugbitten January 27, 2013
Sorry, pierino, without expertise I can only offer encouragement. I think you're on to the real thing at that Meathead site though, especially with the idea that pastrami is really a modified corned beef. That's my general understanding. The only thing stood out to me was his use of coriander seed, but by that point you're really just adjusting. My own personal grail is an open hot brisket sandwich with garlicky gravy over crispy potato pancakes. This was the signature dish of the Gitlitz Deli on the upper west side. That place closed after burning down twice in about '81. Best of adventures!
irinaleibo January 25, 2013
I use a mix I found on and it makes a great home pastrami. I find that I don't like it too lean so I leave the fat intact. Coriander, pepper, paprika, garlic powder etc. As authentic as I have been able to find outside of the city.
Good luck.
healthierkitchen January 25, 2013
I'm pretty sure I remember mrs. Wheelbarrow doing pastrami as part of Charcutelpalooza. I'm not remembering, however, if they only used Ruhlman's recipe or experimented a little. I'd search in the features database here on food52 and see if one of their posts was on pastrami. If not, try her blog, or even contact her.
trampledbygeese January 25, 2013
I wish I knew a good recipe, this is high up on my bucket list of foods I want to make.

I had this conversation with the people at the local 'artisan salumeria' (as they call themselves) who makes all sorts of yummy cured meats. They suggested the recipe in Ruhlman's book Charcuterie. I've tried to discover their own method for making it, but apparently it's a trade secret.

I have seen pastrami cure all ready mixed up (that is suppose to come with instructions) for sale at the same place I order my curing salts, but I don't know what it would be like or if you have this kind of product in the US. Besides, an already mixed cure takes some of the fun out of making it yourself.

If you do find a good recipe, please let me know. I would really like to try making some.
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