my homemade pastrami is tough

I made pastrami from a corned beef. Slow cooked 10 hrs then refrig for 6 hrs then oven for 30 min. Had it on rye bread for dinner and too tough to even eat.

  • Posted by: Lori
  • July 9, 2018


Lori T. July 10, 2018
Did you make the pastrami in a smoker, or do you mean you cooked it in a slow cooker? Pastrami really needs moisture, even while smoking, to help it stay tender. I generally put in an 9x12 pan of water beneath my cured brisket in the smoker, just to make sure there is enough moist steam during the smoking process. If you don't, the meat can dry out and be tough. But pastrami is a rather tough meat anyway, which is why it is always sliced really thin to eat. For your current cut, perhaps slicing it really thin and reheating it with steam may help. It might also be due to a shortcoming in your corned beef. Not all of them are great, and if you don't start with a good corned product, there's not much you can do to improve it. You want to get a cut with a nice fat cap to start with, as well. Not enough fat on the cut and it's going to be dry and tough pretty much no matter what you do. Also, when you cut and reheat, always do that with steam or at least water in the pan.
Lori July 10, 2018
I did it in the slow cooker. The meat is not dry at all just tough. I decided I have nothing to loose by putting it in the pressure cooker for a bit to see if it might improve it. I think it was a good cut as it had a good fat cap. From what I've been reading it needs to cook even longer than my 10 hrs. Thanks so much for your reply and the good info.
Lori T. July 10, 2018
Yes, if you did it in a slow cooker you would need a longer time. I've only done it in the crockpot twice, and wasn't too happy with it. My solution was to go the pressure cooker route afterward as well. In the smoker I usually go 12 hours or so at 225F, and I imagine that would be the same for a crockpot. But don't judge the corned beef just by the fat cap. I've found some brands just end up tough as regular corned beef, so they definitely wouldn't be good for pastrami. When I can, I generally make my own corned beef. It's not difficult, just takes waiting time while it cures. It is definitely worth the trouble though.
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