I have some pastrami pics that I can share. I thought that for the sake of anyone who may not have tried this before, and maybe seek encouragement, I could also include the method I followed and what the experience was like.
Well, it was a mighty fun adventure, well worth the wait. If you haven't tried it, I'd like to encourage you. In fact, here is a short little article that should build your confidence, and offer some good info:
I began with about an 8 1/2 pound whole brisket. I would suggest buying one that is at least 3 weeks before its sell by date to allow for brining time. Of course you want to know what goes into a brine and why, so here is another link with recipe and explanation:
Just a few comments here about that... there is talk there about the optional use of saltpeter in the brine. I'm of the school "forget that." As I understand it, (check me if I am wrong), saltpeter is an ingredient for gunpowder. Do you really want an explosive in your stomach? You never know what might happen if you fart. Its kind of like, what do you get when you mix onions with beans?-- tear gas. Anyway, the point is if you want all those gnarly preservatives, perhaps it is best to just buy the processed pastrami. Secondly, some folk really like to make use of juniper berries. Well, those can be hard to find for some, and that flavor, though subtle, is mighty nice. So what I did was just toss a couple shots of gin (which is distilled from those berries) into my brine.
Before I placed my brisket in the brine, I prepped it by trimming as much of the visible fat off the top, lean side. You'll want as much meat as possible exposed for when you go to apply the rub.
Okay, how about a picture break:
Lookie!--oh, I wish I could adequately describe or relay the wonderfully intoxicating aroma of that brine with all those spices and such. Note that I used a turkey-sized oven bag set into a lasagna pan. That worked mighty fine for me and my resources, but you might have a more preferred way. The bag is nice as you can seal it up pretty much without any air in there to work on spoiling the meat. Okay, the recommended brining time is from one to three weeks. I went 9 days with this one, and that was just great. Something worth mentioning is that when you're done brining, it is good to "de-brine," if you will, to remove some of the potential over-saltiness of flavor when you go to smoke it. I used very cold water and changed it out a few times over the course of two days. Worked famously.
Now we are ready for the rub. You'll want the recipe for that, so here's a link:
I like this rub a lot, though I might suggest cutting down to some extent on the amount of coriander. The more coriander you use, the more it might resemble a corned beef kind of flavor, which is still not bad at all. One other neat little trick is that if you have a coffee bean grinder, a little whirl on that is a great way to mix the rub ingredients.
So, the brisket is now patted dry, and rub is at hand. Next step is to slather the top of that brisket with one thing or another. I sing the praises of the virtues of yellow mustard... and with pastrami, why not? I'm going to be globbing on a whole lot more when I go to eat this one. But a thin mustard slather is just so conducive to holding the rub on in place.
I say it's time for another picture break:
I should mention these are the morning after photos-- I applied the rub the day before, and let it settle in the fridge covered with plastic wrap overnight.
At last, off to the pit. As I have a CG w/SFB, I got that ol' firebox up to about 225 degrees. Then I fed it a dry foil pouch of hickory chips atop the cooking grate above the briquets. You might notice that I like to roast my brisket fat side down. I do this so as not to disturb the rub, and to allow that rub to develop a good bark. As for mopping, I wait a few hours before the first mop when it starts to look a little crusty. I use a spray bottle filled with apple cider for that purpose. Here are a few pics of the cook in progress:
This pastrami is done when the internal meat temp reaches 165. Because of the brining, there is no need to take it up any higher. I assure you, it is tender enough. As much as I wanted to dive right in to it, this meal was prepped ahead for the following day. So, I wrapped it up in foil, let it rest a bit, and fridged it. The following day, I placed it in a 350 degree oven, still foiled, and brought it back up to that 165 temp. I let it rest again for 1/2 hour, then sliced thin (between 1/8 to 1/4 inches).
It was a good day for some mighty pastrami subs. One loaf is French bread, and the other sourdough. I had a whole host of possible toppings and condiments. I built my part with globs of yellow mustard, sliced tomato, dill pickle. Happy pastrami to you all.