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First go at pastrami

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I have had a 5 pound brisket flat in the freezer for quite awhile that has been marked for a pastrami project. I finally got around to curing it so I could have it in time for my birthday dinner last week. I followed the like-Katz’s recipe for the most part off the Amazing Ribs site. I trimmed as much of the fat off as I could down to 4 pounds total weight. I calculated my own wet cure at 156ppm nitrate and 2% total salt and it was close to their calculator but theirs doesn’t calculate salt content so I went with my numbers.  Curing length was 8.5 days which was a bit longer than necessary but needed to account for my schedule and ensure a full cure.  I did not desalinate it and glad I didn’t. I smoked it to 155° at 250° dome temp and then put it on a grate in a pan with about 1.5” of water and covered with foil to steam. (which is something I’ve never done before.) This was where things got weird. The temp rose steadily to 186°, and stalled. For a couple hours. And then started ticking down?   (I was aiming for 203-ish.) I finally got so frustrated and concerned I pulled it off at 178° after it lost 8°! My total cook length was going over 8 hours for a 4 pound flat which concerned me how the final result would turn out. I let it cool and I was so upset I ruined over a week’s worth of work. I sliced it thin on the slicer the next day on my birthday for pastrami sandwiches on rye with sauerkraut and Swiss cheese. Honestly it was the best pastrami sandwich I’ve had and it got rave reviews from family, crisis averted!

I still have no idea why I started losing temp, that has never happened to me on any cook, but it must have been a result of the steaming process? I checked it with a separate instant read thermo just to make sure it wasn’t my probe, which they both read similar. 

But anyways here are some pics! I will be trying this experiment again!






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