Short Cut Pastrami


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
I've heard of people taking this as a shortcut, but it doesn't strike me as the same thing.

From a quick search it seems they were both storage efforts prior to refrigeration but corned beef is more of a salt cure, and while pastrami is salted/brined, it gets a drying period and a smoke for completing the preservation. I think the seasonings diverge as well as the traditional cooking of the finished product.
Joined Jan 4, 2011
Pastrami and corned beef are different cuts of meat: Today’s corned beef and pastrami are both made from beef, albeit different parts of the animal. Corned beef is made from brisket, which comes from the lower chest of the cow; pastrami is either made from a cut called the deckle, a lean, wide, firm shoulder cut, or the navel, a smaller and juicier section right below the ribs. These days, you may also see pastrami made from brisket.

Pastrami and corned beef do have the same brine: Pastrami and corned beef are brined before they’re cooked; they’re either rubbed with or submerged in a solution of salt and spices to infuse the meat with more moisture and flavor. Both are brined in a mixture of salt, sugar, black pepper, cloves, coriander, bay leaves, juniper berries, and dill, as well as the preservatives sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite.

Pastrami and corned beef have different spice mixes: Here’s when things really start to differ. After brining, pastrami gets coated in a mixture of black pepper, coriander, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, and sometimes fresh garlic; that spice coating is what gives it its blackened appearance. Corned beef is… naked. No spice mix to speak of.

Pastrami and corned beef have different cooking methods: Pastrami is smoked over hardwood, oftentimes with a pan of water nearby, which helps create steam and keep the meat moist. It’s then cooled and then steamed before serving. Corned beef is… boiled. Sometimes with cabbage and other accoutrements in the mix, too.

"We work in kitchens ... It ain'te rocket surgery.".
Joined Feb 8, 2009
Sure could, soak the corned beef in a bucket of water in the fridge for a few days. Take it out and pack it with a Pastrami seasoning. Smoke it at 225 until it gets to around 160 or the stall. You can then wrap it. Many places will take the smoked pastrami and steam it after smoking. This will help tenderize the brisket. This is the way Katzs does it in NYC and it works for them......I have a friend that owned a BBQ place that does it this way too....They sell the pastrami seasoning in some meat markets that smoke their own meats.


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
OK so basically yes I can do it, but the cut is different.
Joined Feb 8, 2009
OK so basically yes I can do it, but the cut is different.

Kuan, take a look at this process. I have a friend that owns a BBQ restaurant. I sent him an e-mail to get his process. I know he starts with the corned beef so I'll get back with that info. I don't think he steams his, I would. I've had Katzs Pastrami and I think the steaming at the end makes for a more tender pastrami.....for now look at this, I would follow what they did.......
Joined Feb 8, 2009
Kuan, The BBQ guy got back to me.
He gets it brined not cooked, smoke it at 225 for 14 hrs approx. 195-200 internal. No steam but he throws it on the Flat Top with a squirt of water under a lid for maybe 30-45 seconds. this is a restaurant operation.....
Joined Nov 5, 2007
Last time I made pastrami was not that long ago. First step was bringing a hunk of brisket.


A zillion recipes for it on line, mine was pretty basic with salt, some cure #1, black pepper, mustard seeds and bay leaf. Soaked for about 3 weeks.

Yes, I used brisket, some of the big operations use cuts from the round, which is just not the same, hardly any fat at all.

Took the slab out of the brine, set in in a pan on a rack, let it dry in the fridge for a day, get a bit of pellicle on it.

My plan was to smoke it, the allotted day saw temps in Salt Lake City breaking a 140+ year record for cold. I opted for the oven. Rubbed with a black pepper, ground coriander mix with some smoked paprika added, hoping to get some sort of smoke flavor into it.


Went 4 hours at 275F, on a rack over some water, covered in foil. Let it cool for a while, then cut into it.


This picture doesn't really show the true color of the meat, it did have that distinctive pastrami color, Juicy and tasty, but it just wasn't the same as some low and slow smoked 'strami. Sure, it wasn't even close to the heavenly stuff Beltex Meats here in Salt Lake produces, but it was better than Boar's Head. I enjoyed a few sandwiches while it lasted.

And @Iceman's definition of 'deckle' seems to be open to interpretation as I've heard the term used to describe the point of the brisket, as well as the outer portion of the rib eye.

Joined Jan 4, 2011

Here's a vegan pastrami for you all ...
"This seitan pastrami is mouthwateringly delicious and tastes just like it has been sliced fresh and served up hot from the deli counter. This salty, savory deli-casy will make you the sandwich of your dreams or you can just eat it as is – it's that good."

Seitan ‘Pastrami’ [Vegan]


For the Seitan:

  • 2 cups vital wheat gluten flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup tightly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup vegan beef-flavored vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons mild flavored vegetable oil
  • Vegan red food coloring, optional

For the Dry Rub:

  • 1/4 cup tightly packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried coriander

For the Simmering Broth:

  • 2 cups vegan beef-flavored vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • 1/4 cup tightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 bay leaf


To Make the Seitan:

  1. In a mixing bowl, add the vital wheat gluten, flour, brown sugar, garlic, pepper, mustard seed, and salt. Stir them to combine.
  2. Create a well in the center and slowly add the broth and oil.
  3. Using your hands work the liquid into the flour mixture until a sticky wet dough is formed.
  4. Knead the dough for five solid minutes. You can do this right in the bowl. If you want that marbled effect, add a few drops of red food color, and knead some more to marble the dough.
  5. Add as much or as little as you like to get the desired effect.
  6. Allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Have ready a rimmed baking sheet and a large piece of foil.

To Make the Spice Mix:

  1. Mix together all the ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Lay the piece of foil flat on the counter.
  3. Transfer the dough to the center of the foil and form it into a rectangle-ish slab about 6-inches wide, 8-inches long, and 3-inches thick. This does not need to be exact.
  4. Coat the entire surface with the spice rub, flip it over and coat the bottom with the rub.
  5. Roll the slab up in the foil as tightly as possible. If you need a second piece of foil, use it. You need to wrap it as tight as possible so the seitan does not expand while baking. You want it to remain trapped in the foil so it remains dense, not bready.
  6. Place it on the baking sheet and bake, wrapped, for 45 minutes.
  7. After 45 minutes, carefully remove it from the oven. Allow it to cook for a few minutes before carefully unwrapping.
  8. Place the partially baked slab in the center of the pan (you can line with parchment or anther piece of foil to help with clean-up if you choose) and bake it for an additional 30 minutes uncovered.
  9. It should be blackened and hard to the touch when it's ready.

To Make the Simmering Broth:

  1. Add all broth ingredients to a pot and bring them to a boil.
  2. Boil them for 5 minutes to make sure all the salt and sugar has dissolved, then reduce the heat to a medium-low simmer.
  3. Remove the blackened Pastrami slab from the oven and allow it to cool to the touch.
  4. Using a sharp serrated knife and cut the pastrami into thin slices (the thinner the better).
  5. Place the slices into the simmering broth to reheat.
  6. Serve the pastrami straight from the broth.


If you are planning to serve it later, make sure to store the pastrami in the broth to keep it moist and juicy.

THANK YOU: Joni Marie Newman
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