pastrami 3

Pastrami is Kosher barbecue, it is corned beef with chutzpah, and it is at its ballsiest at Katz’s Delicatessen in New York City. Katz’s is a timeless throwback, where Harry met Sally’s fake orgasm took place and they both met real pastrami. It is complex and smoky, but not in the way that other smoked meats are smoky. The smoke is not overt. Instructions for this version are based on those from our cookbook of the week, Food DIY by Tim Hayward. It’s a fairly simple process, and only takes five days to brine – and doesn’t require the use of any nitrates, either. To smoke your meat, you’ll need a kettle-style barbecue or something of the like, plus wood chips.

pastrami 2

± 2-3kg fatty brisket, trimmed into a tidy slab

2L  (8 cups) of water
200g coarse sea salt
100g sugar or honey
2 bay leaves
2 cloves of garlic
2T pickling spices, blend of mace, allspice, juniper, coriander, ginger, dried chillies, cloves, mustard seed, etc.

1T coriander seeds and 1T black pepper, crushed roughly in a mortar and pestle.


  1. Put all of the brine ingredients into a pot. Bring to a boil, and allow to cool completely.
  2. Place the meat in a double zip-lock bag.  Pour the brine into the bag, press out the air, and seal.
  3. Store in a bowl in a fridge for 5 days, turning daily.
  4. Drain brine and pat dry. Discard the brine.
  5. Press the crushed pepper and coriander seeds into the surface of both sides of the meat, for as much coverage as possible.
  6. Smoke the pastrami on a kettle barbecue for 2 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 70ºC . The important thing here is to keep the heat low and slowly bring it up to temperature, for a more tender meat. For instructions click here.
  7. Oven-steam – put a little rack into a a larger dish, and put 10cm of water in the bottom.  Set the beef on the rack, and cover tightly with foil.  Bake in the oven at 120ºC  for 3 hours.
  8. Enjoy thinly sliced, hot or cold.