The Ultima Pastrami Burger

Recipe courtesy of Guerrilla Ultima, Philadelphia
Show: Eat St. Episode: Hunger in a Headlock
TOTAL TIME: 11 hr 40 min
Prep: 15 min
Inactive Prep: 8 hr
Cook: 3 hr 25 min
YIELD: 4 servings
LEVEL: Expert


  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons pink salt
  • 3 tablespoons pickling spice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 tightly-formed 5-ounce beef patties
  • 1/4 cup coriander, ground
  • 1/4 cup black pepper, ground
  • 8 tablespoons sauerkraut
  • 8 ounces baby Swiss cheese, sliced
  • 8 slices marble rye, toasted
  • 4 tablespoons Russian or Thousand Island dressing
recipe tools


Special equipment: a smoker

For the pastrami brine: Combine 2 quarts (8 cups) water with the salt, sugar, pink salt, pickling spice and honey in a pot and bring to a boil. Cool.

For the ultima pastrami burger: Place the beef patties in the cooled brine and allow to sit in the refrigerator overnight.

Remove the beef patties from the brine and discard the brine. Rinse and pat dry the patties. Mix together the coriander and black pepper and rub generously onto the patties.

Place the patties in a smoker filled with mesquite wood until an internal temperature of 115 degrees F is achieved, about 20 minutes.

Alternatively, position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 250 degrees F. Line the bottom of a heavy roasting pan with mesquite wood chips that have soaked overnight. Do not stack the wood chips. Pour just enough water to pool in the pan. Place a raised metal rack on top of the bed of chips, ensuring there is ample space between the chips and the rack. Place the patties on the rack. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, making a tent above the meat for smoke to circulate. Make sure all sides are sealed so smoke does not escape. Bake until the desired internal temperature (115 degrees F) is reached, about 3 hours. During cooking, periodically check to see if there is still water in the pan, adding more water as needed. (An absence of water will dry out the meat.)

Preheat a griddle over medium-high heat. Place the patties on the griddle and cook to desired doneness (medium-rare is preferable). Meanwhile, saute the sauerkraut and Swiss cheese together in a medium pan until the cheese melts. Place the patties and the sauerkraut-cheese mixture on the toasted marble rye slices. Top with the Russian or Thousand Island dressing and serve immediately.


This recipe was provided by a chef, restaurant or culinary professional and may have been scaled down from a bulk recipe. Cooking Channel has not tested it for home use and therefore cannot make any representation as to the results.



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