If there’s one thing I know, it’s Jewish Delicatessen food (the reasons are pretty obvious). There’s nothing like some sour pickles, matzoh ball soup, a good frankfurter (that’s what we call them there) and a piping-hot knish.
And then, there’s the flagship item and true test of ANY Deli: PASTRAMI (the zesty brother of Corned Beef!)
So many places claim to have the best pastrami, and I’ve had my share (the roller coaster that is my waistline will tell you so). And so, I am confident to give you my 100% endorsement that NYC’s own Katz’s Delicatessen in the famed Lower East Side at Houston (House-ton) and Ludlow is, bar none, the GREATEST Pastrami on the face of this earth. Served tender, juicy, full of astounding mouth-watering flavor with every bite, the thing that also sets this pastrami apart from all the others is that it’s also served hot and thick-cut.
And guess what folks? You’re going to make a pastrami in your Instant Pot that is going to come as close to Katz’s as you’re gonna get WITHOUT the use of a smoker and doing such little work, it should be illegal. I guarantee you, you will be licking your fingers until they’re pruned.
Here’s How I Made It!:
Begin with a corned beef brisket (I used a point cut but a flat cut will work fine too). These are found pre-packaged in nearly any supermarket in the meat section.
Remove the brisket from the package and discard the spice packet if it came with one (or add it to your spice collection).
Rinse the corned beef brisket real good under cold water so all of that brine gets washed off from the surface.
See all of that fat with some strands woven into the meat? This is GOOD and we call it marbling! We WANT this for a top-notch tender, juicy and incredible pastrami. Leave it on!
And when you flip it over, you’ll likely see a nice fat pad. Again, LEAVE IT ON! I know it may seem unappealing to some, but this fat is CRITICAL to achieving that perfect pastrami!
If you want more of a smokey flavor while the brisket cooks, brush a little liquid smoke onto the brisket now (although this is totally optional and not a dealbreaker at all).
Go to the Instant Pot, add in the trivet with the handles up and some water…
…and place the brisket with the excess fat side-up on the trivet (we do this so the fat will course through the meat as it cooks, making the flavor wondrous). Secure the lid and cook at high pressure.
While the brisket’s cooking, mix together a bunch of very specific (but super easy to find) spices and lay on a plate. You probably already have all of them on hand.
Remove the brisket when done by using the trivet’s handles…
…and transfer to a plate, allowing it to cool for a few minutes (again, LEAVE THE FAT on it!)
Once cooled, take a paper towel and dab the brisket so any of the meat sweats are absorbed 😉
It’s time to take that corned beef brisket and transform it into a pastrami! Forget the smoker because it’s all about the seasonings!
Generously rub the entire brisket in the seasonings…
…so that it’s fully coated once done.
Securely wrap it in foil…
…and place in the fridge for at least 12 hours and up to 2 days. This is the metamorphosis of the corned beef becoming a pastrami!
When ready to serve, allow it to sit at room temperature while still wrapped in foil for 1 hour (this isn’t mandatory, but its strongly suggested as the meat should be less chilled when put in the oven for maximized tenderness results).
Pre-heat the oven to the low temperature of 275…
…making sure we arrange the oven racks so there’s one on the center where we’ll rest the pastrami and one of the bottom with a baking sheet under it to catch any unforeseen fat drippings or seasonings. This will be a huge help if it DOES drip so you don’t have to clean it off the bottom of the oven.
When ready to pop in the oven, open the foil so the top of the pastrami is exposed and the fatty side should be down against the foil. Create cradle/wall around the perimeter of the pastrami to prevent any drippings from falling while cooking in the oven.
Place the pastrami on the center rack and allow it to cook. It’s going to cook perfectly.
When done, remove from the oven, discard the foil and place on a cutting board and allow to cool for a few minutes.
Using a great knife (I love my Wüsthof Classic Ikon), slice the pastrami against the grain…
…into nice, thick slices…JUST like they do at Katz’s!
Just look at that thing of beauty! I’m telling you, this is going to be some of the most tender, flavorful, OUTRAGEOUS pastrami you ever tasted. (This is also why we kept the fat on – it cooks down into practically nothing and tastes like butter once done, adding the most incredible touch to the experience).
Now take some Rye/Pumpernickel swirl (or just Rye) bread and put on some amazing Russian dressing…
…add in that hot, thick-cut pastrami…
…take a bite…
…and have a moment. Yes, YOU just made something very, very special. A true slice of one of NYC’s “deli”cacies right in your own kitchen!
Observe that pastrami. So tender and bursting with juicy, seasoned flavor!
Lick the fingers. Kiss the chef.
For The Pastrami:
- 2.5 – 5 lb corned beef brisket (these can be found pre-packaged in the meat section. I used a point cut but a flat cut is fine too)
- 1-2 tbsp of liquid smoke (optional)
- 1-3 tbsp of black pepper (use less for it to be less zesty and more for very zesty)
- 2 tbsp of ground coriander
- 1 tbsp of paprika
- 1 tbsp of dark brown sugar
- 1/2 tbsp of garlic powder
- 1/2 tbsp of onion powder
- 1 tsp of rubbed sage
- 1/2 tsp of ground mustard powder
For The Sandwich:
- Rye/Pumpernickel Swirl Bread (or any bread of your choice, but I strongly suggest a Rye)
- Russian Dressing (I think Ken’s Steakhouse makes the best bottled Russian dressing)
For The Sides:
- Pickles of your choice (as a side, of course)
- Coleslaw (also as a side)
- Magical Macaroni Salad (as an even more awesome side)
- After removing the corned beef brisket from the package, rinse it off under cold water for 1 minute (we want all of the brining agents removed as they’re super salty). If it came with a spice packet, discard or save it for something else as we won’t be using it here. DO NOT cut any of the fat off the brisket. It is key to making a super tender, juicy and flavorful pastrami! If using the optional liquid smoke for that smokey flavor, brush it onto the brisket now (totally optional and not a dealbreaker) Note: If you wish to cure your own brisket, see the yellow “Jeffrey Sez” section of the recipe).
- Place the trivet (handles facing-up) and 1 cup of water in the Instant Pot. Rest the brisket on the trivet fat-side up (we do this so the fat courses through the meat, providing extra wonderful flavor)
- Secure the lid and hit “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” High Pressure for 60 minutes
- While the corned beef brisket is cooking, mix together all 8 of the dry spices in a bowl until well-blended and then transfer onto a large plate and spread it out
- When the pressure cooking is done, allow a 15 minute natural release (meaning you do nothing for 15 minutes) and then follow with a quick release. Use the handles of the trivet and transfer the brisket to a plate and let cool for 10 minutes. Dab the brisket with a paper towel to sop up excess liquid and LEAVE THE FAT ON IT!
- Transform that corned beef into a pastrami by rubbing it in all the spices on the plate so it’s completely covered and then securely wrap in foil and place in fridge for at least 12 hours and up to 2 days. This allows the corned beef to truly undergo a metamorphosis into a pastrami! (Even without smoking it)
- When ready to serve, remove from the pastrami from the fridge and, while still wrapped in foil, allow it to come to room temperature for 1 hour (this isn’t mandatory, but is strongly suggested as it will make for an even more tender pastrami)
- Pre-heat the oven to 275 degrees. Open the foil around the pastrami with the fatty side facing down (the top of the pastrami should be fully exposed and not covered with foil at this point), creating sort of a cradle/wall around the perimeter of it to keep any fat or seasonings from dripping while cooking.
- Once the oven is heated, place the foil-bottom pastrami directly on the middle oven rack (not resting on a baking sheet) and place a baking sheet on the bottom oven rack to catch any fat drippings or spices that may fall off the pastrami will cooking. Cook for 60 minutes and then place the pastrami on a cutting board, discard the foil and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes
- With a good knife, cut into thick slices (like how Katz’s does it) and serve on some Rye or Rye/Pumpernickel swirl bread with some Russian dressing or just eat on its own with some pickles, coleslaw and/or my Magical Macaroni Salad on the side OR use it for my Reuben Rotini!
Make it and use it in my amazing Reuben Rotini!
Make my Magical Macaroni Salad as a great side to go with it!
Trust me, while others may disagree, you totally don’t need to smoke this to make it a pastrami. The corned beef brisket serves as the perfect base and it’s really all about the seasonings and letting it sit in the fridge for at least 12 hours and up to 2 days dressed in the seasoning and hugged in foil before cooking in the oven and serving.
To the above point, if you want a more smokey flavor, add 1-2 tbsp of liquid smoke and brush it onto the brisket once it’s rinsed just before you add it to the Instant Pot. OR if you want a lighter smoked flavor, simply just add the liquid smoke to the water in the pot instead of brushing directly onto the brisket.
Due to the two-phase cooking process, the cook times remain the same whether you use a 2.5 lb or 5 lb corned beef brisket.
To reheat any leftovers, simply place the slices on a plate, cover with a paper towel and pop in the microwave for 30-45 seconds OR add the trivet and 1/2 cup of water to the Instant Pot, place the meat on the trivet, secure the lid and hit “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” for 0 (yes, zero) minutes and quick release when done.
Other ideas for leftovers are to make pastrami egg scramble/omelettes and/or pastrami hash – all wonderful!
If you wish to cure your own pastrami, get a brisket between 2 – 5 lbs and rub the following generously on both sides:
- Morton Tender Quick Salt (make sure the entire brisket is totally coated in this first)
- 2 tbsp of dark brown sugar
- 2 tbsp of black pepper
- 1 tbsp of garlic powder
- 1 tbsp of ground coriander
Place the rubbed brisket in a Ziploc bag large enough to hold it, get the air out, and place in fridge for 6-7 days, turning the brisket over each day.
After 6-7 days of curing (and flipping) have passed, take the brisket out of the bag and rinse off the curing rub thoroughly under cold water as it will be unpleasantly salty if you do not. Fill a large container with cold water and soak the brisket, completely submerged for 4 hours. The water must be changed every 30-45 minutes.
Once above process is complete, dry thoroughly with a paper towel by dabbing and proceed to Step 2 of the recipe’s instructions.
For a more traditional, smoker way to make a Pastrami, check out this recipe from BBQSmarts.com here!