Making Pastrami from Corned Beef


Chris Allingham

Staff member
Originally posted by Stogie in the Beginner's Forum on 9/2/03


Here is a favorite recipe from RandyQ...


2 tablespoon(s) Peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon Coriander seeds
1/2 tablespoon Onion powder
1 teaspoon Thyme, dried
1 teaspoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Garlic powder

Soak corned brisket for 2 hours changing water twice.
Grind peppercorns and coriander seeds. Add remaining ingredients.
Rub this on the corned beef brisket.
Wrap and let sit overnight.
Slow cook brisket at 275*F (uncovered) for about 1-1/2 hours/lb.
Meat temps need to be near 185*F or above.


Having smoked any number of corned beefs from the cured, but uncooked stage, I would beg to differ on the soaking time outlined in RandyQ's recipe.

The type (point/flat/whole packer) of corned beef cut is not specified, but even if he is referring to a small flat a two hour soak prior to smoking is not enough time to leach out the salt and the meat will be quite salty.

My experience has been with whole packer cut corned beefs in the 12-14 lb range and I soak them for a minimum of 48-hours with 3-4 water changes. I find this amount of time necessary to leach out enough salt to make the smoked corned beef edible after smoking as the salt flavor is concentrated as the corned beef cooks.

I would also suggest that 1.5-hours per lb is on the high side as corned beef will never be as tender as brisket due to the curing process. Since I am on the subject, I also use a higher ratio of coriander to fresh cracked black pepper and a wee bit of hot pepper for color and spice, than Randy, but that is a matter of personal preference.

I should add that while I beg to differ with a few specifics in the recipe, smoked corned beef is quite delicious and one of my favorites. I should also point out that I have met and have a high degree of respect for Stogie, who posted RandyQ's recipe, I just don't see how a 2-hour soak will leach out enough salt to make the smoked corned beef acceptable for anything but
a component in Corned Beef Hash.

Stogie, do you have an additional secret or two or do you simply have a much higher tolerance for salt than me?


Smoking in Chicago,
Hi Gary!

I use very small flats...usually in the 3 lb. range. Also, I change the water every 20 minutes or so.

I have made my pastrami like this for several years and the meat is never salty. However, I think changing the water is a big factor. You will also notice I add no salt with my spices.....I rely on the remaining salt in the meat.

It's funny, Gary. I have spoken with lots of folks who never soak the thing!! And they claim the meat is just right..not too salty!

For tenderness, I always cook to 190-195*F. I have never been happy with the results when only 160*F...much too chewy..even if sliced thin.

Now, if you notice, my temp is rather high! The instructions I gave are for cooking in the oven! LOL! With my recipe site, I always have to convert the smoker recipes to oven recipes. Most times the temps need to be oven's lowest setting is 250*F!

So, you are correct, if you are making in the smoker and your temps are a bit lower than 275*F, it will take longer.
My recipe pretty much parallels Chris' on the website-- a 3 day cure followed by two 30-minute freshwater soaks prior to cooking, and a final temp between 160 and 165*. Just pulled one off about 30 minutes ago, and it's fabulous. I like to use choice flats from Sam's.