Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Homemade Corned Beef & Pastrami

I did this as my first ever guest post over at The BBQ Smoker Site, and decided to put it up here as well - pop over to Kevin's site for a little visit.

I’ve made my own corned beef a few times but have yet to make one I liked any better than what I can by, but when I saw the recipe from Andrew over at Gastro Fun With Andrew, I knew I had to try it. As it happened, the local market had top round on sale which is what I wanted to use for the pastrami because it makes wider slices than brisket. I also bought a couple of chuck roasts to brine for making into something else later (stay tuned for this one).  So this is somewhat of a pastrami experiment.

Now back to the corned beef. I used Andrews recipe as written, except substituted a tablespoon of ground cayenne and 1/8 tsp of ground cinnamon as that’s what I had - I made a gallon of brine. I put the three pieces of meat on edge in the bucket and poured in the cold brine and put in the fridge, where the meat was turned every day.

Here it is after a week - I used a plate and jar of water to keep it under.

I removed it from the brine after 10 days, rinsed it well, and cooked a little piece to test the saltiness.

I decided it was too salty so back it went into the green bucket for a 4 hour soak in cold water, with one change of water.  Still to salty, so another 4 hour soak.

I timed it to be ready for my next BBQ day, so I rubbed it with my pastrami rub and put it in the smoker at 230* along with a pork butt and two brisket flats and went to bed - I just love my Stumps gravity charcoal feed smoker and DigiQ controller (works like a home thermostat to maintain temp).  Rubbed and ready to go.

Normally, brisket based pastrami is pulled at 175*, then steamed to finish cooking prior to serving, but since the top round is much leaner and will more likely get tougher with additional cooking, I pulled it at 156*.

I let it rest for about 15 minutes and gave it a try.

I really liked the flavor, but thought it might still too salty, but I waited to see how it is after steaming, before I made any another decisions about it.  I cut it into the two meal sized pieces and put one in the fridge and the other in the freezer.

I forgot what day it was (I'm reetired you know) and ended up pulling it from the brine one day early and as can be seen, it did not get corned completly through.

I don't know that on more day would do it so next time I'll go for 12 days.  Since it will be kept cold, it is still safe to eat, but it won't have the corned flavor in that center spot - I'll fix that when I stack it on a sandwich.

It was very good and after steaming the salt level was about right for me.  Sliced thin, it was plenty tender but, as might be expected, not as moist as brisket based pastrami would be, especially since it was sliced prior to steaming.  All-in all, it was a very good sandwich and I’m looking forward to the next one which will be slowly steamed as a chunk prior to slicing.  I hope you enjoyed my little experiment.

I bought most of the whole packer-cut top round and cut the other piece into two London broils, with the grain, and some thin steaks, cross grained, to pound for chicken fried steak.

The triangular piece touching the knife went into the beef and lobster stir fry.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.

One Year Ago: A Breakfast Dilemma & My Mailbox Walk



  1. I have never really thought about why corned beef is the color it is. It's kind of funny to see the little spot in the middle. I'm sure it's still delicious! Once Lent is over, I'll be happy to be a taster for your future corned beef and pastrami experimentation!

  2. Larry, You are really dedicated and persistent... Good results too! I just don't have the patience for all this food related work...but I do like eating the results! Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

  3. I always laugh when you forget what day it was. I suffer the same problem, not because I'm retired, but because I rarely leave the house!

  4. Hi Larry, That was neat getting to do a guest post on another blog. I'm sure their followers enjoyed your recipes as much as we do....

    The homemade Corned Beef and Pastrami looks fabulous.... Yum.

  5. I've never seen it made from anything except brisket, so I read this with great curiosity. Corning is time consuming, isn't it.


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