Denny O’s. Brisket into Pastrami
Denny O’s. Curing Brine for Corned Beef
1 gallon of pure clean quality water
1 cup non-iodized kosher or canning salt
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar (or 2 cups brown and omit the white sugar)
1/2 cup corned beef spices
2 tablespoons crushed juniper berries
1 tablespoon of Cure #1 (Prague powder, DQ curing salt or other, not Morton’s Quick Cure or Insta Cure)
Dissolve all and mix in food-safe container, stir until clear, then chill.
Denny O’s. Corned Beef Spice Mix
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons hot red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons allspice berries
1 tablespoon ground mace
2 small cinnamon sticks, crushed or broken into pieces
2 to 4 bay leaves, crumbled
2 tablespoons whole cloves
1 tablespoon ground ginger.
Combine peppercorns, mustard seeds and coriander seeds in a small dry pan. Place over medium heat and stir until fragrant, being careful not to burn them; keep lid handy in case seeds pop. Crack peppercorns and seeds in mortar and pestle or with the side of a knife on cutting board.
Combine with other spices, mix. Store in tightly sealed plastic or glass container.
Neatly trim a brisket flat removing the fats down leaving at most to 1/8" to at most 1/4" of fat from a 10 pound brisket. Submerge it in the above brine. Place a 1/2 filled gallon Ziploc bag on the top to keep the brisket submerged. Add meat. Do not add different species of meats, but you can add pieces of the same species in the same brine bucket.
Refrigerate 1 to 21 days, depending on thickness of meat. I usually do a 21 day brine.
When the meat is 1 to 2 inches thick, figure it will take a brine of 1-10 days in the brine bucket.
When it is 2 - 4 inches, 5 - 15 days, may require injecting to cure from the inside-out as well as from the outside-in.
When it is 4 inches and larger, 15 - 21 days and should require injecting.
Injecting - use a 4 oz manual injection pump with the broadcast needle or equivalent.
Brine can become frothy (ropy). It has both salt and sugar in it. It also is inputting curing ingredients into the meat and oozing out blood and plasma. Just dump the brine and make up fresh and continue curing should that happen. Make sure you keep it reasonably between 37° - 40° F.
Weigh down the meat into curing the brine with half-filled Ziploc bags of water on top.
Flip once every day, end for end and inside to outside to achieve a uniform penetration into the meat.
No further mixing or stirring of the brine is required let it cure until it is done. Meats will come out of the brine with a distinct normal grayish look.
Note: Cure #1 (Prague powder, DQ curing salt, Insta Cure#1 or other, not Morton’s Tender Quick)
Side note: It needs to have the sodium nitrite level at a maximum of 6.25%.
I use this as reference: Computing equivalency, for 100 gallons of curing brine, you add 24 lbs. of curing salt to 100 gallons of water and mix.
That is .24 lbs, or 3.84 oz. of curing salt to 1 gallon of water maximum.
My recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of curing salt to 1 gallon of water. A level tablespoon is .88 of an ounce. Heaping is approx. 1 ounce. Either is fine. Neither comes close to the maximum amount allowed, but just enough to do the job. Curing at Maximum, plus with injection, requires 48 hours of cure time maximum. This process uses less than one third the curing salts and a longer curing time to tenderize and flavor the meat.
You must cover the product until it floats off the bottom of the container, then weight it down to stay submersed in the brine, leaving no area to be exposed to air.
At minimum the cure takes ¼”/day plus a min of 2 more days (cure penetrates both sides), a 2” thick brisket takes 4 days plus 2 = 6day minimum cure time
When the curing time is completed Take out the beautifully cured “corned beef” (because that’s what it is at this point), and wash off all of the brine and spice. Then, put it in some clean water to soak for an hour to soak out any of the extra salt and rinse it once again. Lightly pat it with a paper towel, but not too dry. With the corned beef being damp proceed to the next step, the Pastrami rub.
Note: I will do a double batch of the brine in a 5 gallon food safe bucket with a lid for 2-10 pound ish brisket flats.
You will loose approxmately 40% of the weight during the smoking process depending on the cut of meat
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Denny O’s. Pastrami Rub
1/3 cup Butchers Course Ground Black Pepper
1/3 cup Juniper Berries (crushed)
1/4 cup Coriander Seed Course Ground
1/4 cup Mustard Seed (brown or yellow I use a combo) Course Ground
Coat the rub heavily all over the corned beef brisket at about 4 to 5 tablespoons per square foot in a large deep nonreactive pan and cover with plastic wrap. The rub may want to stick to the plastic wrap that is why I use it in a deep pan.
Smoking Corned Beef into Pastrami
Pull it out of the refrigerator on the day of the smoke an hour or more before putting it in the smoker.
When you have the smoker running a constant temp of 225 degrees F (I prefer cherry wood), lay the corned beef on the rack. Figure about 1.5 hours per pound of meat. This is no longer a brisket because it has been corned, so easy on the smoke but go to your liking. Spritz the corned beef every 45 minutes or so never allowing it to dry out on the surface. Insert the temperature probe in a couple of spots and smoke till reaching “the dreaded stall phase” @ about 150 to 155 degrees F.
This is when the steaming process begins. Remove it add an 1/8 to a 1/4 cup of surgery moisture like apple juice or your liking into a double wrap of foil and return it to the smoker or an oven. (The oven is fine to use at this time as there is no more smoke that will be adsorbed and the moisture is in the double foil wrap. Smoker/oven temp is still 225. Reinsert the temp probes and continue the low and slow temp of 225 and let the meat go to 203 degrees internal or it feels like cool peanut butter through most of it. Don’t Over Cook It!!
When in the ballpark of 203 degrees +/- you are done, remove it out of the smoker/oven leaving it foiled. Set it in a dry cooler wrapped in heavy bath towels and close the lid for 2 to 10 hours. After that time set in a pan, still in foil and refrigerate until it is well chilled. After it has chilled remove from foil and slice.
Slicing, Slicing is crucial to maximize the tenderness of your final product. Look at the meat and see which way the grain is running. Cut it into thin slices of a 1/16th" up to a 3/16" crossed grain and at an angle from the top to bottom of the slicing stroke if you can. Do not slice length wise!
Steam to reheat until just warmed. Layer the pastrami on grilled rye bread with Dijon mustard (if you need pronounced flavors) add provolone or Swiss cheese and homemade kraut if it will please you. Yum!!
Best of Luck!