Sous Vide And Smoked East Coast Pastrami

Sous Vide And Smoked East Coast Pastrami: The Ultimate Guide to Flavorful Perfection

East Coast pastrami, particularly from New York City, is rooted in Jewish cuisine. Immigrants from Eastern Europe brought pastrami recipes to the U.S. in the late 19th century, where it evolved. Traditionally, pastrami is made from beef navel, cured with a blend of spices like coriander, garlic, mustard seed, and pepper. It’s then smoked and steamed, resulting in a tender, flavorful meat staple found in delis and restaurants across cities like New York. The smoking process imparts a unique taste that distinguishes East Coast pastrami from other cured or smoked meats.

The Sous Vide Technique in Modern Cuisines

Sous vide, a culinary technique that translates from French as “under vacuum,” involves sealing food in airtight bags and cooking it in a water bath at precise temperatures. This method ensures consistent results by allowing for precise temperature control, which is crucial for proteins. When preparing pastrami, sous vide cooking tenderizes the meat evenly, retaining its juices, flavors, and nutrients. After the sous vide process, smoking adds a rich flavor and a distinctive aroma. The combination of sous vide and smoking creates a consistently tender, juicy pastrami with a delicious smoky finish that elevates traditional recipes to new heights.

Ingredients and Preparation

Essential Ingredients for East Coast Pastrami

For crafting authentic East Coast pastrami, gather the following ingredients:

  • Beef Navel (2-3 lbs): This cut, integral to traditional pastrami, has the right amount of fat for flavor.
  • Kosher Salt (4 tbsp): Ensures even curing of the beef.
  • Brown Sugar (2 tbsp): Adds a hint of sweetness to balance the spices.
  • Pickling Spices (3 tbsp): Typically include mustard seed, coriander, bay leaves, and peppercorns.
  • Garlic Cloves (6, crushed): Imparts a robust, aromatic flavor.
  • Black Peppercorns (2 tbsp, crushed): Gives the pastrami its signature spiciness.
  • Coriander Seeds (2 tbsp, crushed): Adds depth and complexity to the spice blend.
  • Mustard Seeds (1 tbsp): Enhances flavor with a slight tang.
  • Onion Powder (1 tbsp): Contributes to the savory profile.
  • Paprika (1 tbsp): Adds a smoky and slightly sweet flavor.
  • Water (1 gallon): Mixed with ingredients to create the brine.
  • Pink Curing Salt #1 (1 tbsp): Ensures the meat is safe to eat after curing.

These ingredients form the foundation for authentic East Coast pastrami flavor.

  1. Prepare the Brine: Combine water, kosher salt, brown sugar, pickling spices, garlic cloves, and pink curing salt in a large pot. Stir until dissolved.
  2. Brine the Beef: Submerge the beef navel in the brine. Refrigerate for 5-7 days, ensuring the meat stays fully submerged.
  3. Rinse and Dry: Remove the beef from the brine, rinse thoroughly, and pat dry.
  4. Apply Spice Rub: Mix black peppercorns, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, onion powder, and paprika. Evenly coat the beef with the spice rub.
  5. Vacuum Seal: Place the seasoned beef in a vacuum-sealable bag. Remove air using a vacuum sealer.
  6. Sous Vide Cooking: Set the sous vide water bath to 145°F (63°C). Submerge the vacuum-sealed beef navel and cook for 48 hours.
  7. Prepare Smoker: Preheat your smoker to 225°F (107°C) using wood chips like hickory or applewood.
  8. Finish in Smoker: Remove beef from sous vide bag and transfer it to the smoker. Smoke for 2-3 hours, until a deep, flavorful bark forms.
  9. Slice and Serve: Let the brisket rest for 30 minutes. Slice thinly against

Smoking Process and Flavor Enhancement

Choosing the Right Wood for Smoking

Select the right wood to enhance the pastrami’s flavor. Hardwoods like oak, hickory, and cherry are excellent choices. Oak provides a balanced, strong flavor suitable for robust meats. Hickory offers a bold and smoky taste, ideal for an intense flavor profile. Cherry wood imparts a mild, sweet flavor and a rich color. Consider blending woods to achieve a complex taste. Avoid softwoods like pine, which produce resinous smoke that can ruin the meat’s flavor.

Tips for Achieving the Perfect Smoke

Maintain a consistent smoking temperature around 225°F for optimal results. Preheat your smoker to ensure it reaches the desired temperature before adding the meat. Use a digital thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the pastrami. Aim for an internal temperature of 190°F for perfectly smoked meat.

Control the smoke by adjusting the vents. Keep the vents partially open to allow a steady flow of smoke. Replenish wood chips or chunks as needed to maintain a consistent smoke level. Avoid thick, white smoke—it can make the pastrami taste bitter. Opt for thin, blue smoke for a cleaner flavor. Let the pastrami rest for 30 minutes after smoking to allow the juices to redistribute.

These techniques ensure your smoked East Coast pastrami combines tender texture from sous vide cooking with rich, smoky flavors from the perfect smoking process.

Serving and Pairing Suggestions

Creative Serving Ideas for Pastrami

Pastrami sandwiches often feature thinly sliced pastrami on rye bread. Add mustard and pickles for a classic twist. For a gourmet touch, use sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing on toasted rye to craft a Reuben sandwich. Another option is to create pastrami sliders using brioche buns, caramelized onions, and melted Gruyère cheese.

Pastrami salads elevate your meal while keeping it light. Combine mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, red onions, and pastrami slices, then drizzle with a balsamic vinaigrette. You can use pastrami in wraps for a quick lunch. Pair it with lettuce, tomatoes, and a tangy sauce inside a whole wheat tortilla.

Pastrami hash makes for a hearty breakfast. Mix diced pastrami with potatoes, bell peppers, and onions, and top with a sunny-side-up egg. Pastrami pizza is another innovative option. Use a thin crust topped with marinara sauce, mozzarella, pastrami slices, and arugula for a unique flavor profile.

Best Sides and Condiments

Dill pickles complement the smoky, tender flavors of pastrami. Sauerkraut provides acidity to balance the richness of the meat. Potato salad offers a creamy texture, while coleslaw adds crunch and freshness.

Mustard brings a sharp, tangy contrast to pastrami. Dijon or spicy brown mustard works best. Horseradish sauce adds heat and complexity. Russian dressing combines mayonnaise, ketchup, and relish for a slightly sweet accompaniment, ideal for Reuben sandwiches.

Rye bread is the traditional choice for pastrami sandwiches. Consider using potato rolls or brioche buns for a softer texture. Soft, warm pretzels serve as an excellent side, enhancing the smoky flavor of pastrami.

For a hearty, carbohydrate-rich side, try roasted potatoes with rosemary and garlic. Macaroni and cheese offers a comforting, creamy option. Finally, a simple green salad with a light vinaigrette provides balance to the robust flavors of pastrami.


Mastering the art of sous vide and smoked East Coast pastrami opens up a world of culinary possibilities. This fusion technique not only ensures tender, flavorful meat but also allows you to experiment with various serving styles and side dishes. By combining precise sous vide cooking with traditional smoking methods, you can create a pastrami experience that’s both authentic and innovative. Whether you’re crafting a classic sandwich or exploring creative dishes like pastrami pizza, the rich flavors and textures will undoubtedly impress. Dive into this delicious journey and elevate your culinary repertoire with this unique approach to pastrami.

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