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Corned beef vs pastrami

I love good corned beef but I have never had pastrami. I have yet to have any great corned beef in Dallas. Could someone explain the difference in the two meats?

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    1. In case you didn't or don't wish to go to the other link, pastrami is smoked and corned beef is not. Both are made from the brisket.

      2 Replies
      1. re: John E.

        actually, both can be made from brisket, but aren't always. The best (IMHO) pastrami is made from navel. I've never tasted it, but corned beef from the round is always in the deli cae at my local supermarket

        1. re: bagelman01

          You are correct of course. However I did not say they were ONLY made from brisket. It depends on what the price point or desired profit margin of the final product. (I suppose the fat content could also be a contributing factor, but I don't know why).

      2. This place would seem like a good place for either deli meat...


        ....and deckle cut makes better corned beef or pastrami......rather than brisket or navel plate.....with that said, navel pastrami is preferred over any other cut of meat, be it brisker or rounds.....for corned beef, the point cut of a whole packer brisket is preferred over the flat.

        1. Love corned beef. Make it at home on occasion. In fact, have a hunk in freezer... was significantly on sale around St. Patty's Day... go figure!?! Usually, just plunk in a big pot of water and simmer away until it's tender... a few hours, but no baby-sitting necessary.

          IMO, even better brands at supermarket deli counter just don't have that corned beef flavor?? Ya need to find a REAL "Jewish" deli to get the genuine article.

          Is pastrami smoked the whole time or just toward the end? Think I did a variation on pastrami after finding a stove-top smoker at a yard sale. When corned beef was almost tender... let it cool a bit and put a rub on it. Then into stove-top smoker for an hour or so. Came out pretty darn good.

          "Scuse me... gonna go get that hunka corned beef outta freezer!

          1. You will find pretty good corned beef and pastrami at the Deli-News on Preston Rd. near Campbell.

            1. There are also regional differences that lead to textural differences. The great Kosher deli meccas in New York steam their meats and (some) hand-slice them thicker than a typical machine slice. The steaming enhances the flavor in my opinion and creates a texture that nearly falls apart without any chewing. In other parts of the country the meats are machine sliced straight from the case with no steaming. It leads to a chewier product. The thickness of the slice also alters the experience, too thick and it's just a chewy mess.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ferret

                Check out the latest episode of The Best Sandwich and you will see that Katz's actually simmers their Pastrami while holding it....they do not steam. I was very surprised to see it, as I always thought and assumed they steamed to keep the meat hot.

              2. From Wikipedia:

                "(Pastrami) is cured in brine, coated with a mix of spices such as garlic, coriander, black pepper, paprika, cloves, allspice, and mustard seed,[7][8] and then smoked. Finally, the meat is steamed until the connective tissues within the meat break down into gelatin."

                Are we assuming the OP is aware of the flavor differences the spices give Pastrami? Pastrami also seems to be fatter much of the time (which is why my wife prefers corned beef).

                7 Replies
                1. re: Midlife

                  Would I ask if I were aware of the differences?

                  1. re: randyjl

                    For a fun experiment, go to Deli-News and get a sandwich with pastrami on one side, corned beef on the other, on jewish rye with toppings of your choice - mustard, cheese, slaw, chopped liver (my favorite with pastrami). I'm sure they would accomodate you. Don't let others describe the differences - GO DO IT!!!!

                    1. re: Veggo

                      That sounds awesome. Never thought one could order a sandwich like that!

                      1. re: Veggo

                        Agreed. Altho the OP is about the meat, the bread contributes alot to the overall experience. From an earlier post, some places allow you to order "First Cut" C/B...supposedly leaner than regular C/B, but that can vary. Also, in some deli's, the term "Fresser" is used to order a FULL, over filled sandwich. Once you've got your tastebuds calibrated, THEN I'd go for the toppings...a Reuben or a Rachel. Enjoy!

                        1. re: Veggo

                          Minus the cole slaw and cheese...... add Tongue.....and you'll have my favorite.......

                        2. re: randyjl

                          Both corned beef and pastrami start as brisket or navel that is brined in a curing mixture that is essentially a salt/potassium nitrate solution and pickling spices. After about a week, corned beef is then cooked and it's done. Pastrami is coated in primarily a mix of black pepper and ground coriander, then smoked to about 160 degrees. It is cooked at this point, but not tender. It is then steamed to about 200 degrees, until tender.

                          1. re: randyjl

                            Ummm.............. I posted that because none of the earlier posts I read even mentioned that difference. If I offended you I certainly didn't think my post would do that when I wrote it. Enjoy! ;o]

                        3. Hate corned beef but love pastrami. My husband doesn't think they are all that different.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: escondido123

                            Hated pastrami as I first had it at a now famous sandwich place in Pittsburgh in the 60s and 70s. Slightly smoked fat with chewy stuff in between. Thankfully, a girl friend forced some on me while eating at a Jewish deli in Miami Beach. Good pastrami came back on the menu!

                          2. You can make something at home that is somewhere between the two and insanely delicious for a sandwich on rye bread. 1) Simmer corned beef with a couple of tablespoons of mixed pickling spice, for about 2 hours. 2) Fish out the meat, wipe it off, lay it on a baking dish, and stud it with whole cloves just as you would a ham. 3) Mix brown sugar with just enough mustard to moisten it and pack this on top of the corned beef. 4) Bake it for about half an hour to glaze. As it cools, spoon some of the goo over it every time you walk past. 5) Chill this to make it easier to slice thin. Make sandwiches on rye bread with good mustard. This is arguably the best sandwich on earth.