The best pastrami I have ever had was at Katz Deli in New York. I have blogged about Katz Deli. I often think of Katz Deli pastrami. The layer of meat, the layer of fat, the layer of spices along with hand slicing of the brisket makes Katz Deli the best pastrami I have ever had. The 2nd best pastrami happens at my house, albeit only once per year because of the labor and time required to make it. I really love the flavor of our homemade pastrami. It is different from Katz's flavor and texture, but just as satisfying. I rarely get pastrami out in Nashville anymore because there just isn't good pastrami anywhere (except for Goldies in Sylvan Park and at times Noshville on Broadway). I don't expect Nashville pastrami to be as good as our pastrami, nor as good as Katz Deli, but I just would like a passable pastrami, so we don't have to make it. In the meantime, I am savoring the last little piece of our pastrami. mmmm good.
How to make pastrami is to get a flat cut brisket with all the fat attached. Corn the brisket with a solution of water, salt, sugar, bay leaves, garlic, pickling spices and saltpeter in the fridge for a few weeks. If you don't want to corn beef, get a corned beef flat cut from the grocery story with the most fat on top. Trim fat layer to about 1/4 inch high. If you are using a store bought corned beef, take the corned beef, and soak it in water for 6 - 8 hrs in the fridge. Dry off the soaked corned beef. Pack a mixture of salt, half-sharp paprika, sugar, coarse ground coriander seed, coarse ground mustard seed, coarse ground pepper, and crushed garlic (or garlic powder) onto the corned beef. Let sit on a plate uncovered in the fridge for a day. Prepare smoker between 150-200 degrees F with hickory wood. Put spiced corned beef in a pan into the smoke chamber. Smoke for 6 - 8 hrs.