Everything That You Should Know About Pastrami

Everything That You Should Know About Pastrami

Want to make exciting sandwiches? Try Pastrami on Rye, Hot Reuben Melts or Pastrami Burgers. There are also an array of dishes that can be made with pastrami which is only 147 calories per 100 grams.

Here are some fun facts about pastrami’s roots and its history that will make you want to try this amazing meat for your dinner tonight.

Cutted Pastrami

So, let’s jump right in and discover what makes pastrami such a popular choice.

What Is Pastrami?

Pastrami’s roots are first thought to have begun in Romania and it was called Pastramă. This spice and salt-rubbed cured meat, using the words a pastra which means to “preserve” or “keep” was originally made from mutton or lamb. In the past, this preserving method was used for all types of meats.

In the late 1800’s, Romanian Jews were emigrating to New York City and were settling in New York’s Lower East side in the neighborhood of Little Romania.

One theory is that Sussman Volk, a Lithuanian kosher butcher was recognized as producing the first pastrami sandwich in 1872. He began using goose breasts because they were inexpensive at the time. He served the sandwiches from his butcher shop which became so popular that he opened a restaurant.

Today, pastrami is made with multiple cuts of beef but the preferred choice is corned beef which is smoked and aged in cool temperatures and has become the preferred method in the process. Another popular cut of meat is beef navel or “plate” found at kosher meat markets. Other meats such as pork, mutton, and even turkey can be used.

How To Make Homemade Pastrami

The steps to making the most flavorful pastrami are not difficult to do. You just need to follow some simple safety advice from the experts so that you don’t have the problem of bacteria which can occur while the salt is penetrating the meat.

Different Methods Of Making Brisket Into Pastrami


One method of making pastrami is called “corning” or brining the brisket in water consisting of salt and seasonings such as black pepper, garlic, coriander and other pickling spices. Some people feel this method can cause excess saltiness which helps against spoilage.

The brisket is placed in a stainless steel or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid and remains in the brine from seven days to three weeks and stored in a dark, cold place. The meat must be checked on regularly and turned to prevent spoilage.

Dry Curing

Dry curing is faster and less messy and consists of coating the outside of the brisket with pink curing salt and letting it soak into the meat for several weeks. The meat is covered in plastic wrap and refrigerated for 24 hours.

How To Make Pastrami In A Smoker

You don’t have a smokehouse, you say. Well, don’t worry. Using a roasting pan filled with wood chips and aluminum foil makes a perfect makeshift smoker. Your oven will work perfectly to produce a tender and smokey-tasting pastrami so that no one will be able to tell the difference that your homemade pastrami wasn’t purchased at your local kosher store.

Texas Smoaky Pastrami


If you used the water method you need to be sure to rinse the meat well in fresh water to remove the salt. Once this is done the meat should be patted dry with paper towels. It is now ready to be smoked.

Making A Pastrami Rub

The rub can consist of seasonings such as ground peppercorns, coriander and mustard seeds which are then mixed into brown sugar, garlic and onion powders.

Make sure that both sides of the meat are coated with a thin layer of the rub, and be sure to get into any folds in the meat. The meat is then covered in plastic wrap and refrigerated for 24-48 hours.

Using Your Oven As A Smoker

Place long sheets of aluminum foil length-wise in the bottom of a roasting pan and add 2 more sheets width-wise. The foil pieces should extend efficiently beyond the edges of the pan which will enable them to be made into a tent, over the meat.

Wood chips are scattered evenly on top of the foil. Use a wire rack placed 1 ½ inches above the chips and place the brisket on the rack, fat side up.

Fold the edges of the foil pieces to form a tent, crimping the edges shut tightly. The pan is placed on the stove over two burners until steam forms. Place the pan in the oven until the temperature reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit for 5-6 hours.

Afterward, remove the pan from the oven and place the meat on a platter being sure not to burn yourself by the steam. Throw away the foil and chips. The meat is returned to the pan, fat side up and covered with foil. Set the oven to 325 F degrees and return the meat to the oven. It should be cooked for approximately 3 hours or until it is tender.

Cooking With A Smoker

Many people prefer to use apple or hickory chips in their smokers but any hardwood will do. The smoker should be set at 225 F. Place the fat side of the meat up in the smoker and cook around 45 minutes to one hour per pound.

Therefore, a 10-pound brisket can take as long as 10 hours. The internal temperature should be around 165-190 F when done. The outside of the meat will be almost black. The key is to have a thick outer smoked ring and a pink, tender interior.

Another alternative is to finish cooking the meat in the oven after it has been smoked for 3 hours. Set the oven to 325 F and finish cooking until the internal temperature reaches 180 F.


Remove the meat from the oven and let cool. Refrigerate for 1-2 days in plastic wrap. This allows the juices to distribute evenly. It will freeze beautifully in vacuum sealed bags.

Holding Beef In Vacuum Bag

Once you’re ready to eat the leftover pastrami, place the meat in a steamer basket in a large pot with water and steam for 1 ½ - 2 hours. The meat will be done when an inserted thermometer registers 203 F. Once cooled, use a sharp knife to make thin slices along the grain and serve in your favorite sandwich with a good smattering of mustard.

To reheat leftover pastrami, place the slices in a steamer over water and cook until hot or wrap in wet paper towels and reheat on a lower setting in the microwave until hot.


In conclusion, you don’t need to be a world-class cook to prepare delicious, low-calorie pastrami sandwiches and other dishes. Follow a set of guidelines and recipes to produce the most mouthwatering pastrami that you’ve ever had and wow your friends at your next dinner party.

Do you have any additional questions about pastrami?

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