No Mexican food this time, but I got a packaged corned beef brisket (in a brine) at the market. I didn’t know what to do with this piece of meat, so I went online to see what I can do. Lo and behold, I was searching and came across a few corned beef brisket recipes. I found that Tom, Scott and Greg have cooked up a corned beef for a St. Patty’s Day trifecta earlier this year. As I went through all the recipes, Scott had the most traditional recipe. For me, the traditional recipe is something I always want to try for any first attempt. In the recipe, Scott mentioned that corned beef brisket is not typically smoked and that smoking it is actually pastrami. I got very excited because pastrami is one of my favorite lunch meats. Scott went on to do a modified corned beef. However, I intend to go all the way with the pastrami.

***Editor’s Note ~ Arthur has started his own blog and I’m more than happy to promote him on mine.  His new site is called***

Inside the package, the brisket had a brine solution and a seasoning pack. This was great because most of the work was already done for me. I tossed away the seasoning, who knows what that stuff tastes like.

Notice this isn’t the whole brisket, this is just the point half of it. The other part of the brisket is the flat.  Any of these cuts or the whole brisket can be used in this recipe. As you can see, it has quite a bit of fat on one side, and generally, the other side is well trimmed:

The first task was to use Scott’s method of soaking the brisket.  To leach the salt out submerse it in water.  Change the water one time for every pound of meat plus one change of the water.

Again, you can see how grey the beef looks when it is done soaking:

The second task is to make the pastrami rub. This rub is almost basic.  I say almost because all you really need is black pepper and ground coriander. I found this rub recipe on a website and I simplified it further:

4 Tbsp coarse ground black pepper
2 Tbsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp granulated garlic
1 Tsp paprika
1 Tsp onion powder
½ Tsp thyme

Mix all the ingredients together and rub it on the brisket:

While the corned beef sits at room temperature, I fire up the grill manufacturer that shall not be named. I fill my smoker accessory with water, charcoal and two types of wood – pecan and cherry:

After about 10 minutes the temperature is in the range I like:

The corned beef brisket is put on the grill and it’s ready to absorb a lot of smoke:

I want to point out that I forgot to put a drip pan underneath the brisket. I didn’t notice this until it was almost done. It was quite messy and the most critical thing was that my bottom air vents were getting clogged. This made air control a little more difficult.

After an hour in the smoke, the soon to be pastrami is cruising along at 230 degrees despite the semi clogged vents:

You can see some spots are starting to blacken a little bit:

At the 2 hour mark, I inserted the digital temp gauge in the pastrami. I want to get the internal temperature up to 160 degrees because I’m going put it in the fridge overnight and serve it for lunch the next day:

After a total time of 5.5 hours, the internal temp hit 160 degrees. The pastrami has a wonderfully exterior dark crust and it smells so good:

I put off temptation to start eating and sealed the pan with a foil sheet:

Into the fridge the pastrami went. My brother and my folks were coming over for a BBQ the next day.  They were getting here early enough for lunch. I was hoping they would get a kick out of having some homemade pastrami. We all love pastrami because we grew up eating pastrami sandwiches at a Southern California chain restaurant called “The Hat”. We’re a long ways from SoCal now, but I’m attempting to create some nostalgia on the grill.

***Editor’s note ~ For those not serving it the next day, let the pastrami rest for a good 15-20 minutes before slicing***

Finally, the next day arrives. One hour before lunch would be served, I fire up the tamale steam pot. About 5 minutes later, I place the pastrami in the steamer. By using the steam pot I am further breaking down the connective tissue in the meat and adding moisture to the cooking process. As a result, the pastrami will be very moist and juicy:

The same result can be achieved in the microwave if you wrap the pastrami in wet paper towels. In addition, this process is great for leftovers.

About 45 minutes in the steam pot on high heat is sufficient. At this point the steam is carrying the aroma throughout my house, it’s amazing!

I started to slice the pastrami into sandwich size portions:

The Hat serves their pastrami in thin slices. Unfortunately, I don’t have a meat slicer or a knife that can get the job done. Instead, I sliced thick chucks because my sandwiches must have lots of meat. In traditional Hat fashion, the sandwich is served on bread with mustard and pickles:

When I asked my Mom if my pastrami reminded her of “The Hat” she said, “Not really”. Oh well, *sigh*, she ate all of her pastrami sandwich…that has to say something:

In my successful attempt at pastrami, I will make a few changes next time:

1) Trim the fat cap to a very thin layer of fat. It didn’t quite melt away as much as I hoped.

2) Put a drip pan under the meat!

3) Try it without the steam (just curious)

4) Stop trying to get my parents approval.

If you have any questions or comments, simply leave a comment below or shoot me an e-mail and I’ll pass it along to Arthur.

Click here for other beef recipes on the grill.

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Arthur Aguirre
Major League Grilling’s founder, Arthur Aguirre, is a BBQ enthusiast with a passion to cook anything on the grill. Before reaching the level of pitmaster, Arthur spent years of hopelessly under cooking and overcooking various cuts of succulent meats. With the help of internet forums such as the BBQ Brethren, Char-Broil, and the experts from the GrillinFools, Arthur’s grilling exploits soon followed.
Arthur Aguirre
Arthur Aguirre
Arthur Aguirre

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I loves me some pastrami. I’ve been putting a montreal steak seasoning on mine as a rub rather than a pepper/corriander. I had been using a recipe where I did low and slot to about 160/170 then braised it in beer. The last couple I’ve been doing hot and fast up to 190 or so like a brisket then slicing it thin after resting it. Turns out great.


I will do this.Looks perfect. Can’t wait to go to store and buy a brisket.


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