Homemade Pastrami
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Make delicious pastrami at home! It's definitely worth the effort.
Serves: 8-10
  • 3½ tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 3½ tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon whole cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon caraway seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 bay leaf, crushed
  • ¼ cinnamon stick, crushed
  • 1¼ cup kosher salt
  • 2⅔ tablespoons pink salt (sodium nitrite - this can be dangerous in large quantities so play it cool!)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • One 5-pound brisket from the fatty end (point), untrimmed (I used a more lean piece that was about 3.5 pounds)
  • 1½ tablespoon fennel seeds
  • ½ cup shiro dashi (this is an essential ingredient - don't skip it!)
  1. In a small skillet, toast ½ teaspoon of the peppercorns, ½ teaspoon of the coriander, and ½ teaspoon of the mustard seeds over medium heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Grind in a spice mill or use a mortar and pestle to grind as finely as possible. Put the ground spices in a large pot and add the pepper flakes, cloves, caraway seeds, ginger, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, kosher salt, pink salt (sodium nitrite), granulated sugar, brown sugar, honey, garlic, and 4 quarts water. Bring the brine to a simmer, stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature - you can put the brine in the fridge to speed up the process.
  2. Transfer the brine to a vessel large enough to hold it and the meat—which will be added later— and refrigerate until chilled. I used a Dutch oven. Put the brisket in the brine and weight it down (I used a heavy pestle from my mortar and pestle, but plates or jars will work, too) to keep it completely submerged. Cover and refrigerate for 5 days. FIVE DAYS! I just want to make sure everyone reads that.
  3. Remove the brisket from the brine, rinse it, dry it, and put it on a large platter. Discard the brine. In a spice mill, process the remaining peppercorns, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, and the fennel seeds. Transfer the spices to a small bowl and mix well. Coat the brisket with the spice mixture and sprinkle the shiro dashi over it. Cover the platter and refrigerate for about 12 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 250°F. Put the brisket on a rack in a roasting pan. Add a cup of water to the pan and tightly cover the pan with aluminum foil. Cook the brisket until it reaches 165°F on a meat thermometer, 3 to 4 hours. (If you don’t have a thermometer, the brisket is ready when it is very tender). Let the meat rest for at least 2 hours at room temperature, or cover and refrigerate overnight.
  5. To serve, transfer the pastrami to a cutting board and cut against the grain into thin slices (I cut mine as thin as possible but I do not have the skills that Michael Antony obviously does - you can also cut it into thick cubes to put over eggs or in salads). The pastrami will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Recipe by The Crepes of Wrath at http://www.thecrepesofwrath.com/2013/12/16/pastrami/