Steven Raichlen's Barbecue! Bible


Turkey Pastrami

Adapted from How to Grill by Steven Raichlen (Workman, 2001)

  • Active Prep: 24 hours for curing the turkey

Heart-healthy Turkey Pastrami smoked and served on fresh rye bread with sauerkraut and homemade Russian dressing.


  • Yield: 8 to 12
  • Method: Smoking, then direct grilling
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For the rub

  • 3 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons cracked black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoons aniseed or ground anise
  • 1/4 cups sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoons ground mace
  • 8 to 10 cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons canola or other vegetable oil
  • 1 bone-in or boneless turkey breast (4 to 5 pounds)
  • 2 cups 2 cups wood chips, soaked for 1 hour in cold water to cover, then drained

Step 1: Make the rub: Coarsely crush the coriander seeds in a mortar with a pestle, in a spice mill or coffee grinder, or by wrapping them in a dish cloth and crushing them with the edge of a heavy skillet. Combine the crushed seeds and the remaining rub ingredients in a small bowl and mix well with your fingers

Step 2: Rinse the turkey breast under cold running water, then drain and blot dry with paper towels. Using poultry shears, cut off the ribs, if necessary, and discard or save them for stock. Sprinkle and pat the rub on the turkey. Cover the breast with plastic wrap or place in a large resealable plastic bat (you will need to turn the bag 2 or 3 times during the curing process) and let cure in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Step 3: Set up the smoker or the grill (for indirect grilling). Preheat to medium-low. If using a charcoal grill, place a large drip pan in the center between the piles of coals. If using a gas grill, place all the wood chips in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and preheat on high until you see smoke, then reduce the heat to medium-low.

Step 4: When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. If using charcoal, toss 1 cup of wood chips on the coals. Brush the excess rub off the turkey with a paper towel. Place the breast in the center of the hot grate over the drip pan, away from the heat; cover the grill. Grill the breast until tender, 1-1/2 to 2 hours (the cooking time will depend on the size of the breast and the heat of the smoker or grill). To test for doneness, use an instant-read meat thermometer. The internal temperature should be at least 165 degrees F. If using a charcoal grill, you’ll need to add 12 fresh coals and 1/2 cup wood chips per side after 1 hour.

Step 5: Transfer the turkey pastrami to a platter and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until cold. To serve, cut the pastrami into thin slices across the grain. Serve on rye bread slathered with mustard