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Home Made pastrami

I am going to make my own Pastrami. Have read a lot all over the internet and several brine recipes called for Morton's Tender Quick. I am in New York City (Manhattan); does anyone know where I might find this in a store? Need to start brine on Tuesday for my timing to work so ordering on line will be very expensive with overnight shipping...so trying to avoid if possible.

Any other Pastrami making tips would be appreciated as well.


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  1. Have you tried asking on the NYC board?

    2 Replies
    1. re: rasputina

      Funny you should ask...
      I posted there and someone suggested I try here
      So I have both bases covered


      1. re: Gold D

        ok, I just figured they would be more likely to know what stores would carry it. Good luck.

    2. Tender Quick is just a 2: salt:sugar mixture with sodium nitrate/nitrite.

      1. I can never find it here in Fla. I've been told that the ingredients can be use to make explosives so it's one reason why you don't see it sold everywhere. On line is my only easy source.

        2 Replies
        1. re: scubadoo97

          Sodium nitrate (saltpeter) is also used in gunpowder manufacture, but there are many more efficient ways to get it other than in Tender Quick (which really wouldn't work anyhow given the huge proportion of salt/sugar),

        2. I've made a dozen or so, though I use pink salt rather than tender quick. As noted, Tender Qujck just has a few extra ingredients. I buy online via Allied-Kenco. Very tough to find locally. Try some local "A&S Pork Store" type places. They make their own sausages, so might have it.

          I buy a whole packer brisket, usually between 12-18 lbs, but I separate the point and flat when trimming. Otherwise, you have about 1-2 inches or more of fat in between. This fat actually inhibits smoke penetration. I try to leave 1/8 to 1/4 inch of fat all around.

          I buy those jumbo size ziploc bags (2-3 gallons) and brine mine in them. Much easier as far as space saving than having to deal with a bucket. If your recipe calls for 7 days of brining, you may find it too salty. There is definitely an art to knowing when to pull it, and it's tricky. Too litlle brining, it will be grey in the middle, not red. Too much, and it can be very salty. What I do is go the full distance, but then soak it for an extra 12 hours in fresh water, changing the water a few times. This way, you can be sure it's cured, but it won't be overly salty.

          I smoke till it reaches 180 degrees internal. Most recipes tell you to take it off at a lower temp, but it never seems tender enough that way (you don't want it fall apart tender, but not chewy either).

          Finally, after smoking, wrap tightly in foil till it cools down. When ready to serve, steam it for 2 hours or so.

            1. Here is an old thread on pink salt in NYC. Shops that carry pink salt might also carry tender quick.


              If you can only find pink salt you can use the brine from Charcuterie by Ruhlman and Polcynn:

              1 gal or 4 liters water
              350 grams salt
              225 grams sugar
              90 grams dark sugar
              42 grams (1.5 oz) pink salt
              plus whatever spices and garlic you like

              1 Reply
              1. re: Zeldog

                Virtually all of the posts on that thread were referring to pink colored salt, not the curing agent. PS: I use the Rulhman recipe for my pastramis. It think the spices are a few tablespoons of pickling spices.

              2. PS - I've been disappointed by the results of my two attempts to make pastrami and I think it's because of the quality of the brisket. I remember the pastrami from the delis on the lower east side back in my youth and it was a very fatty cut with lots of marbling. Nowdays the meat is extremely lean apart from the fat cap, and after brining and smoking, very dry. If you're not cooking for an occasion you might use supermarket brisket first time out just in case you screw up. Otherwise I suggest you shop around for a high quality brisket if you don't have one already.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Zeldog

                  You need to find a brisket point if you are looking for that fatty pastrami of your youth.

                  1. re: Zeldog

                    I buy "Strub Farm American Wagyu" brisket from D'Artagnan. Not ridiculously expensive, and it is ridiculously well marbled.

                  2. I suggest you use the Deckle or Navel for moist and tender Pastrami. Here is a thread that should be very informative and helpful.....it contains three other threads on making Pastrami.


                    1. Thanks to all for the help and links.

                      I am short on time so have selected several recipes with short brine times because we are doing this for a Father's Day Party.

                      Already have one Flat Brining for experiment #1.

                      For Number 2 we are trying a dry rub only recipe that uses the Morton's Tender Quick (I think that one is from Virtualweberbullet.com)

                      I am going to the butcher today to order the 2nd and third pieces of meat. Third recipe uses a short brine with Prague powder, etc. and then dry rub. Will probably go with smaller cuts (or at least smaller pieces) but butcher seems to know what he is talking about so will put my faith in his recommendation and find out by cooking. Would like to do a navel but my understanding is that does require a longer brine so will probably have to skip this time around.

                      Once again...thanks. Appreciate all the help.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Gold D

                        I would head over to Greenpoint Brooklyn. Tons of places that make sausage so I'm sure they would sell you some.

                      2. I'm not in NY, but I've found Tender Quick in the salt aisle of my local supermarket. Right next to the "specialty" salts like kosher, rock, pickling... etc.

                        I've make corned beef from the Morton recipe. I half expected the meat to turn out like a salt lick, but surpisingly that was the best corned beef I've ever made or had. Better than Ruhlman's Charcuterie recipe.