Smoked Turkey Pastrami
- 2 individual turkey breasts, or 1 whole unseparated breast on the bone (4-7lb)
- 3 tbsp coriander seeds
- 2 tbsp black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 tbsp Szechuan peppercorns
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp white sugar
This smoked turkey pastrami is packed with unique spices, incredibly moist, and the best part: Simple. It’s not cured, and you won’t miss it. Brad Prose from Chiles and Smoke rolled up his sleeves to tackle this turkey version of a smoked favorite. You can get his full recap here.
Here are Brad’s top three tips for Smoked Turkey Pastrami success:
Butterfly the turkey breast. You’ll have to use your judgement here, but I left the tenderloin attached and sliced it to about 0.25″ thick along the thickest part. The goal is to have a large, flat piece for the most surface area for spices.
Season the inside. Keep the skin on! Place the breast skin-side down, and season the inside first. Roll it back up with the skin on the outside, and truss the meat with some string. You want it to keep the rolled shape.
Dry-brine. Season the outside as well, and place on a wire rack in the fridge for a few hours, up to overnight. This will allow the seasonings to penetrate the turkey and dry out the skin. We want crispy.
Prepare the spice mix. Grind up the first four spices together, then mix the remaining ingredients.
Butterfly the turkey breasts. Slice these along the length, so it’s about 1/4″ thick. If the tenderloin is attached, leave it on. You want a flat, long piece of turkey for seasoning with the skin-side down. If you purchased a bone-in turkey breast, separate the breasts from the bone first, then butterfly.
Season the turkey on the exposed side first, then roll it up so the skin is on the outside. Tie with 3-4 small strings to keep it rolled tightly. Season the outside as well.
Place the rolls in the fridge on a wire rack, allowing them to rest uncovered for at least four hours, up to overnight.
Time to Cook:
Remove the turkey from the fridge 30 minutes before ready to cook.
Prepare the smoker, heating it up to 300°F. Smoke the turkey rolls until they reach an internal temperature of 140-145°F. Turn up the heat to 350-375°F and continue to cook the turkey. This higher temperature will help crisp up the skin, and you’ll cook until it registers 165°F internally.
Allow the turkey to rest for a few minutes before slicing.
Times will vary depending on the size of the turkey breasts. Estimated 50-70 minutes before the temperature will be ready to increase the heat for the finish. Do not put cold turkey on the smoker, make sure it has a chance to warm up slightly with room temperature air.
Looking for Szechuan peppercorns? You can find a number of options in stores or online, but Brad recommends trying these.