Serious Eats: Recipes

Barbecue: Pastrami

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.

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