Q:

What is the difference between pastrami and corned beef?

A:

Quick Answer

The difference between pastrami and corned beef is that pastrami is corned beef that's been smoked. Both corned beef and pastrami developed as ways to preserve meat in the days before refrigeration.

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What is the difference between pastrami and corned beef?
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Full Answer

Pastrami and corned beef are the same type of meat; the difference between them is that pastrami is smoked. Both corned beef and pastrami developed as ways to preserve meat in the days before refrigeration.

Corning is an old fashioned word for salting, and corned beef is brisket prepared by placing it in a bath of saltwater and spices. It is the foundation of a New England boiled dinner and corned beef hash.

Making corned beef is easy but takes time. One recipe calls for a 5-pound brisket, fine sea salt, pink curing salt, brown sugar and garlic. It also calls for pickling spice, carrots, celery and onion. To make corned beef, boil and cool the brining liquid, set the brisket in the liquid, and keep the brisket in the refrigerator for as long as three weeks. To prepare the brisket after brining, cook it with vegetables for about four hours.

After the brisket is trimmed and placed in a smoker, it is possible to make pastrami. Though many people find that cold-smoking the meat makes it more pastrami-like, this technique requires a smokehouse. Hot smoking the brisket for about an hour per pound is more efficient for most people. The pastrami is ready when the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit when checked with a thermometer. This temperature kills most bacteria and retards spoilage.

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