Beef Cheek Pastrami

Beef Cheek Reuben

I’m pretty excited about this post because I think this is one of the best creations to date – motherflippin’ beef cheek pastrami.

I’m not entirely sure where I first stumbled across the idea but it popped in to my head after reading some article or another and having made pastrami before I figured I would use a similar process to that.

The process is laid out in the previous post but to reiterate, to make pastrami you need to:

1. Brine.
2. Soak in fresh water
3. Apply dry rub
4. Smoke
5. Steam

I used just over 3kg of beef cheeks for this recipe.


For the brine I used the following ingredients:
4 litres of water
300 grams of salt
5 tablespoons pickling spice (using the amazing ribs recipe)
4 teaspoons curing salt

The meat was brined for 4 days – as it’s a smaller cut than brisket I figured I could get away with a shorter brine time.

Soak in fresh water

This is crucial or the meat will be so salty it will be inedible.  They were in fresh water for around 8 hours.


Dry Rub

The rub consisted of:

4 tbsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp coriander powder
1 tbsp paprika

I actually ran out of ingredients on this as I was unprepared so a few went in to the smoker with some Tatonka Dust I had lying around.

The rub was applied about 36 hours prior to the cook – with the brisket I had the rub sit on there for a lot longer but was pressed for time – it didn’t seem to cause any noticeable problems.



Like a typical brisket pastrami these suckers can take as much smoke as you can throw at them so go all out.  I used the Hark Tri-Fire aka the Grillennium Falcon as I was also smoking the beef chuck for last week’s beef tacos.

These were smoked for 3 hours at 110 degrees celsius


For a brisket you would typically smoke it for a good 8+ hours, rest overnight then steam the next day.  The cheeks are a slightly different beast so after the smoke I put them in an oven tray, poured a little beer in there and covered with foil, put in the oven at 120 deg. c for a further 3 hours.  Cook until tender.

All the best cuts for slow cooking contain a lot of collagen – this is connective tissue that breaks down during the cook making meat succulent and juicy.


And man, oh man, these cheeks were juicy – these cheeks had more collagen than a Claremont soccer mum.  Those veins of collagen running through the meat, having been slow cooked for so long, were gooey pockets of flavour.

I’ve been eating beef cheek sandwiches for the past week and they are amazing.  I’ve also vacuum packed a few so that I can make the reuben pizza from Three Dogs BBQ when I eventually fire up the pizza oven.

Highly recommend giving this one a crack – let me know if you do.  I’ve also seen a recipe for beef tongue pastrami but I’m not so sure I’m quite up for that yet so will stick to brisket and beef cheeks.


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9 Responses to Beef Cheek Pastrami

  1. Bill says:

    Looks outstanding. Wish I could get beef cheeks. I need to look harder. I need to make some pastrami soon!

  2. Sugarcrush says:

    Beef cheeks….now that’s new to me. I’ll have to check with a local butcher about their availability. Nice blog…and thanks for your comment on mine!

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  5. Laura says:

    Is there a sub for curing salt? Can it be omitted? Can I use just 300gm kosher salt?

    • Hi Laura, there’s not really a straight sub for curing salt.
      However there are people out there that don’t like to use curing salt, so I would google nitrate free pastrami and see what comes of that

  6. Tammy says:

    Just curious, what is the final internal temperature you are looking for when you smoke them? Thanks.

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