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Take the corned beef out of it’s packaging and rinse with cold water. Place in a large stock pot and cover with cold water. Keep refrigerated overnight or 4 hours minimum to remove the excess salt. This is the desalinating process. I like the corned beef flavorings so use this kind (go to Step 3), but feel free to use a beef brisket of same weight (see Step 2).
If starting with a beef brisket, see my recipe on How to Make Corned Beef first, then go straight to applying the dry rub.
In a small bowl whisk together the dry rub ingredients. Rinse corned beef in water and allow excess to drip off and apply dry rub mixture evenly over all sides. Place on a platter and refrigerate over night or 8 hours. No need to cover with plastic wrap because when you remove it most of the dry rub sticks to the wrap and is wasted. Air cured is fine overnight, but feel free to go right to the smoker. I have found overnight adds more flavor then straight to the smoker. Use your own discretion.
I use a The Masterbuilt 30" Digital Electric Smoker, but follow your smoker instructions. Add an inch of water to the water tray, and using cherry wood chips, smoke the brisket for approximately 6 hours at 225°F. We will want an internal temperature of 180°F for that tender meat.
Allow meat to cool and refrigerate overnight, or at least 8 hours covered with a loose fitting piece of aluminum foil (We don’t want the dry rub to come off), if not steaming right away. Otherwise take directly to the steamer. (See below instructions).
If refrigerated, remove from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature, then steam for 2 hours. I use a bamboo steamer with the meat resting on a bit of aluminum foil (See Note 3). In a large pot over medium low heat pour enough water in pot that there is an inch gap between steamer rack and water and steam for 2 hours. Check occasionally to make sure water does not evaporate and refill as needed. We want an internal temperature of 204°F. Just before it hits that I turn off the heat because the meat will continue to cook. (See picture, it rose all the away to 207°F while resting.)
If you don't have a steamer, you could use an Instant Pot. Use the Instant Pot with the strainer made to fit the IP size. Put the smoked, refrigerated pastrami in the steamer basket, added 1 cup water and set it on STEAM and LOW for 2 hours.
Feel free to discard whatever fat cap is still there and not rendered down completely. With a sharp knife be sure to slice across the grain into about 1/8" and serve! Slicing across the grain will ensure a tender, fall apart piece of pastrami.