Slow Cooker Pastrami, Sort Of

How to make corned beef reminiscent of pastrami—and really tasty—in a slow cooker

This probably doesn’t compare to the pastrami at your favorite deli, but I was looking for something different to do with a corned beef brisket flat. The whole boiled dinner with cabbage and potatoes doesn’t do it for me, even though I am significantly Irish in my ancestry. Options for what else to do with corned beef are slim on the web. Surprisingly, a lot of people try to make it into pastrami, most with drawn out processes of wrapping in multiple layers of foil and slow cooking in the oven, refrigerating, and then broiling for browning—way more work than I had in mind—and that doesn’t even include smoking, which is a necessary step for authentic pastrami. But it’s December. It’s snowy and overcast. I just want to use the slow cooker.

So, I would say that what I made is reminiscent of pastrami. I ground up the spice packet that came with the corned beef and added those spices (whatever they are) to others that are common to most pastrami recipes—smoked paprika, garlic, lots and lots of black pepper, white pepper, ground mustard, and chipotle powder (for a little more smoke). Mixed with olive oil, the resulting wet rub is brushed over all sides of the corned beef, and then the whole thing is cooked on high in the slow cooker (probably around 250°) for 6 hours. I did that early enough to be able to refrigerate it for a while before trying to slice it.

We did eat it in sandwiches, but I’m not going to say how we ate it, because I don’t want to offend you finicky purists who would banish me to deli hell for not using rye bread and mustard. Why would I try to please some mythical deli owner instead of our own palates, anyway? I would eat the traditional sandwich, but my husband would never touch rye bread nor mustard if he were starving. I consider it a great success that I trained him to eat sauerkraut on New Year’s Day and like it.

Fabulous change of pace for the old corned beef brisket. Tomorrow, I think I’m going to eat some in flat bread with roasted peppers.

Slow Cooker Pastrami, Sort Of

  • Servings: makes 4 lbs
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 4 lbs corned beef brisket flat with spice packet (I guess you could use the point as well)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic or garlic paste
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 4 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper (really)
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely ground white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle
  1. Rinse corned beef and pat dry. Place in slow cooker.
  2. Grind contents of spice packet that came with the corned beef in a spice grinder or blender. Surprisingly, the contents of that packet were not listed on the package. Here are some ideas of what could be in the packet.
  3. Add the ground spice packet to the rest of the ingredients. Brush or rub the wet rub all over the corned beef in the slow cooker. Make sure the fat side is up when you are done.
  4. Close the cooker and cook on high for 6 hours. Remove the meat to a platter and cool for at least an hour in the refrigerator.
  5. Slice thinly or however you prefer.

Even if it’s not authentic pastrami, the flavor is there and it’s a nice change from corned beef.


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