After years of working on my barbecue—there is always more work to be done—I wanted to break out and let my smoker take me to new, meaty heights. So I split one of two briskets to barbecue into the flat and point, then cured the flat in preparation to turn it into pastrami.
Never curing anything before in my life, I was dubious whether my first shot at letting the salt and nitrates do their job would produce expected results, especially after the four-day cure the brisket emerged from the fridge a somewhat unsightly pale gray.
It's all part of the learning curve though, as once I applied the rub and slow-smoked the flat until it reached 165 degrees, it came out with the dark coating paired with the red meat that's ubiquitously pastrami.
The taste was even better than its good looks. The meat had the exact salty, spicy, smoky flavor you'd expect from a good pastrami, and eating it hot off the smoker was an incredible treat. (Now you understand why I was making that beer mustard earlier this week.)
I don't think I'll ever abandon barbecue as a first love, but this pastrami left me thinking all the other curing and smoking possibilities ahead.
About the author: Joshua Bousel brings you new, tasty condiment each Wednesday and a recipe for weekend grilling every Friday. He also writes about grilling and barbecue on his blog The Meatwave whenever he can be pulled away from his grill.
- Active time: 1 hour
- Total time:4 days, 8 hours
- For the Dry-Cure
- 5 tablespoons Morton Tender Quick
- 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground bay leaves
- 1 brisket flat, about 6-8 lbs, fat cap trimmed to 1/8-inch
- For the Rub
- 3 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons coarsely ground coriander
- 1 tablespoons granulated garlic
- 2-3 fist-size chunks of medium smoking wood, such as oak or hickory
- Type of fire: Indirect
- Grill heat: Low
To make the dry-cure, mix together Morton Tender Quick, dark brown sugar, black pepper, coriander, granulated garlic, allspice, and bay leaves in a small bowl. Coat entire brisket with the cure and place in a large resealable plastic bag. Place in the coldest part of the refrigerator and cure for 4 days, flipping brisket twice a day.
Remove brisket from bag and wash as much cure off as possible under cold running water. Place brisket in a large container and fill with water and let soak for 30 minutes. Remove from water and pat dry with paper towels.
To make the rub, mix together black pepper, coriander, and granulated garlic in a small bowl. Coat entire brisket with the rub.
Fire up smoker or grill to 225°F, adding chunks of smoking wood when at temperature. When the wood is ignited and producing smoke, place brisket in, fat side up, and smoke until an instant read thermometer registers 165 degrees when inserted into thickest part of the brisket, about 4 to 6 hours. Remove from smoker, wrap in heavy duty aluminum foil, and let rest for 1 to 2 hours. Slice and serve hot, or refrigerate and slice thinly when cold.