Easy home-cured pastrami

  • Serves 15
  • Takes 20 min to make, plus 24 hours chilling, 2½ hours smoking, and cooling
  • Easy
This recipe for pastrami uses a dry salt rub to ‘cure’ the beef before smoking to give the pastrami its unique flavour.

Nutritional info per serving

  • Calories293kcals
  • Fat8.9g (2.8g saturated)
  • Protein28g
  • Carbohydrates30.1g (2.1g sugars)
  • Salt3.6g

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  • 1.8kg beef brisket (ask your butcher to remove the ‘cap’ muscle)
  • 3 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp white peppercorns
  • 1 tsp juniper berries
  • 75g Maldon sea salt
  • 4 tbsp light muscovado sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp pink peppercorns, crushed
  • Crusty bread, English mustard and gherkins, to serve

For smoking

  • 200g rice
  • 1 tbsp juniper berries, lightly crushed
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs


  1. With a very sharp knife, trim away any sinew and excess fat from the brisket, leaving just a thin covering of fat. Crush the coriander, black and white peppercorns and juniper in a pestle and mortar, then mix in the salt, sugar and garlic. Firmly massage the spice mixture all over the brisket. Push the meat into an extra-large freezer bag, keeping it flat if possible. Squeeze all the air out of the bag and seal well. Chill for at least 24 hours (or up to 48 hours), turning it over and massaging the meat every 4-6 hours or so.
  2. Remove the meat from the bag, discarding any liquid. Shake off the excess spices. Scatter the pink peppercorns over a plate and press the meat into them to coat evenly.
  3. Line a large, deep roasting tin with 4 layers of foil. Top with the smoking ingredients, followed by a wire rack, then the beef. Cover the whole tin tightly with 4 layers of foil.
  4. Place your home-made smoker across 2 hobs over a very low heat. Allow to gently smoke for 2½ hours. The trick is to use a heavy-based roasting tin as this will happily smoke on the hob without catching. Remove from the heat but leave in the smoker until completely cooled.
  5. Slice the pastrami. Serve with some English mustard, sliced gherkins and good-quality bread.
  • The pastrami will keep, covered and chilled, for up to a week.
  • Pastrami is a New York deli classic, usually made with brisket soaked in brine for days, even weeks. Even for a slow-cook devotee this is too long, so this recipe uses a dry salt rub to ‘cure’ the beef before smoking to give the pastrami its unique flavour.

From March 2008

Main Ingredients:

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