Pastrami is of Romanian origin and is usually made from beef brisket, but sometimes it is made from lamb or turkey. The raw meat is brined, partially dried, seasoned with herbs and spices, then smoked and steamed. We went with a more barbecue-style approach. We also skipped the first step and saved days of waiting and purchased a corned beef brisket. Instead of steaming the brisket at the end of the process, it was wrapped at 160 F with butcher paper and took all the way to 205 F.
5-pound corned beef brisket
4 tablespoons black pepper
2 tablespoons coriander powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
It took 3 hours for the beef brisket to reach 160 F (fat side down) with the smoker holding steady at 250 F.
The beef brisket was removed from the smoker and wrapped in butcher paper that was first sprayed with slightly diluted apple cider vinegar. When putting the brisket back in the smoker, it was put in fat side up, because as it got higher in temperature the juices from the fat would fall and soak into the meat.
After 2.5 more hours the brisket was pulled from the smoker at 205 F and set to rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Total cook time was 5.5 hours. After the rest period, you can eat the pastrami while it is still warm, but it tastes better cold the next day.
The best way to thinly slice the pastrami is after it has set in the fridge overnight and at a downward angle.