There are a lot of steps and time that go into making homemade pastrami, BUT it's absolutely worth it.
The best cut of meat to use for making homemade pastrami is beef brisket. The meat has a large enough surface area to absorb the spices, and the fat content helps to keep it moist during the long smoking and steaming process.
– 3 quarts ice water – 1 quart boiling water – 4 garlic cloves, crushed – ¼ cup pickling spices – 6 bay leaves – 1 ¼ cups coarse kosher salt – 1 cup brown sugar – 2 teaspoons Prague #1 curing salt
Combine all of the spices, salts, and sugar in a large bowl or saucepan. Boil 1 quart of the water and pour it over the contents, whisking to dissolve the sugars and salts. Combine with the ice water and allow it to cool. Use this to brine the brisket for 5 days, fully submerged.
After 5 days of curing, remove the pastrami from the brine. Discard the brine, and place the brisket in fresh water to soak overnight.
Grind up the spices for the rub and generously coat all sides of the brisket. It’s finally time to smoke this!
Warm up your smoker to 250°F. Carefully place the brisket in the smoker and allow it to cook for roughly 5 hours (about 165°F internal temperature).
Double wrap the pastrami in aluminum foil and increase the temperature of the smoker to 300°F. Place the wrapped pastrami back in the smoker and continue to cook until the meat is probe tender, roughly around 200-205°F.
Once the pastrami is probe tender, remove it from the smoker. Allow it to rest at room temperature for about 30-45 minutes before slicing in.