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Turkey Pastrami recipe

Turkey Pastrami


Turkey is great served hot or cold. Perfect for SA’s warmer weather.

  • Serves: 6 |
    6 servings
  • Difficulty:

  • Prep Time : 24:0 hours |
  • Cook Time : 5 mins
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 C (1 l) water
200 ml salt
200 ml sugar
50 g bicarbonate of soda
2 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
40 g coriander seeds
2 tsp (10 ml) yellow mustard seeds
4 bay leaves
2 dried red chillies
2  large turkey breasts

Pastrami Spice
100 g coriander seeds
50 g black peppercorns whole
12 tsp (2.5 ml) red chilli flakes
50 g onion powder
50 g garlic powder
4 tsp (20 ml) ground cumin
2 tsp (10 ml) fine chilli powder
1 tsp (5 ml) cayenne pepper
2 tsp (10 ml) dried thyme
1 tsp (5 ml) dried parsley

For Smoking
1 medium size oven roasting tray
1 equally sized baking resting rack (which can fit on top of the oven roasting tray)
200 g cherry wood chips (your local butcher will be able to supply you with this)
tin foil
sweet tangy chutney, for serving
vegetable pickles, for serving
fresh bread, for serving


Bring all of the ingredients for the brine to a boil in a large saucepan. Boil rapidly for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool down completely. Refrigerate until ice cold.

When the brining liquid is cold, add the turkey breast to the brine and allow to brine for 20 hours. When the brining process is complete, remove the turkey from the brine and place onto a baking rack.

Pastrami Spice

In a frying pan, dry toast the black peppercorns, the coriander seeds and the chilli flakes to release the natural aromas. When lightly toasted, pulse in a food processor with the blade attachment until a coarse texture is achieved. Combine the coarse spices with the ground spices and mix well.

Rub the turkey breasts with the spice mixture, making sure that you add a good crust to the turkey. The spice mixture should stick easily to the turkey breasts due to the excess brine liquid that will remain on the breasts. Once the turkey breasts are well coated with the spice mixture leave in the fridge for 1 hour to allow the spice to form a firm crust.

For the Smoking

Preheat the oven to 180 °C.

Remove from the turkey breasts from the fridge and place into the smoker or lay the breasts on the baking rack (evenly spaced). Spread the cherry wood chips evenly over the base of the roasting tray.

Tear off two pieces of tin foil that will completely cover the roasting tray.

Place the roasting tray onto the stove top over a high heat. Leave it on the stove top until the wood chips begin to burn (gently move the wood chips around to create even burning).

When a lot of smoke begins to rise to the top, quickly place the baking rack with the turkey breasts on top of the roasting tray. Immediately cover with the foil trying not to allow any of the smoke to escape.

Smoke until the internal temperature of the breasts reaches 65 °C. Remove immediately from the smoker once the temperature has been reached. Allow to rest until completely cool.

Sprinkle a little more of the spice onto the breasts, as desired.

Vacuum seal and leave in the fridge for at least 24 hours before serving.

Thinly slice the turkey breasts and serve with sweet and tangy fruit chutneys, vegetable pickles and freshly baked bread.

Click here for the second recipe pictured – Turkey Roulade