Today I’m going to show you how to grill turkey pastrami. For a long time it never occurred to me that I could make pastrami at home. I had it every so often, and it made such a great sandwich. The fact is, you can make it at home, and it isn’t really hard to do. Pastrami is basically a curing and smoking process, and we are going to use a turkey breast to make it instead of the traditional beef brisket.
So, let’s get on to preparing and grilling your turkey pastrami. Basically you are going to need a bone-in turkey breast and some spices for the rub. Here is what you will need:
1 bone-in turkey breast, 4 to 5 pounds
3 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp cracked black peppercorns
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 brown sugar
1 tbsp ground ginger
Rinse the turkey breast under cold water and blot it dry with a paper towel. If you turkey is bone-in, which most are, flip it over and use a poultry shears to cut off the ribs. Here are the poultry shears I use, the work great for cutting chicken and turkey. Once you have the turkey breast ready, we are going to prepare the rub.
To make the rub the first thing we need to do is coarsely crush the coriander seeds. There are a few ways to do it, you can use a mortar with a pestle, wrap them in a dish towel and crush them with a pan or hammer, or use a coffee grinder. I use a coffee grinder for my spices most of the time, here is one like I use.
Once the coriander seeds are crushed mix those with the remaining rub ingredients. Place the turkey breast in a baking dish. Take the rub and sprinkle about 1/3 of it on the underside of the turkey breast. Flip it over and sprinkle on the remaining rub. Try to get some under the skin as well. Cover the turkey breast with plastic wrap or put it into a large resealable storage bag. At this point you are going to put it in the refrigerator and let it cure for 24 hours.
After the turkey breast is done curing, set up your gas or charcoal grill for indirect grilling over medium-low heat. If you are using a charcoal grill place a drip pan in the center and pile the coals evenly on both sides. With a gas grill place the turkey opposite of the heat source. You are going to need wood chips as well to add some smoke to the turkey pastrami. You will need about 2 cups of your favorite wood chips. You can use apple, hickory, or whatever you’d like to try. If you have a gas grill, no worries, you can smoke on that too, using a smoker box.
Once the grill is ready, place about a cup of chips on the coals or in your smoker box. Place the turkey breast in the center of the grill away from the heat. Grill for about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Add another cup of wood chips and more coals if needed after about 1 hour. I will be done once it reads 170F with an instant read thermometer. Once it is done transfer it to a plate and let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate it until it is cold. To serve it, slice it thinly across the grain and put it on rye bread with some good deli mustard.
That is how to grill turkey pastrami. It is really good; you will want to give this recipe a try. Also I should mention you can make this one a smoker if you have one. Just heat it to 225 to 250F and smoke for about 3 to 4 hours. You will need to add coals and wood chips every hour. Test for doneness using an instant read thermometer and you are set.
image courtesy of Mike_Fleming/flickr