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Making a great pastrami sandwich

I have some Niman Ranch naval pastrami (it is not my intention to have a discussion about the perfect pastrami; let me know how to make the best sandwich with what I have).

How should I prep the pastrami? What are the preferred breads, toppings and sides? Any suggestions welcome.

Tom Hall

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  1. Rye bread and mustard and a dill pickle next to it. Maybe some cole slaw as a side, but don't get carried away. Keep it simple!

    2 Replies
    1. re: The Librarian

      Definitely on board with this... Rye bread, pastrami warmed and stacked high, throw on some kraut and a little bit of whole grain mustard and serve with a whole pickle, sliced into four wedges and some Salt and Vinegar chips.

      My Blog: http://www.epicureforum.com

      1. I have pretty simple tastes. I like to split a hoagie roll, slather on a layer of dijon and mayo. Next layer your salami and some nice swiss cheese. Microwave or broil openfaced to whatever your preference is. This was how the deli I used to work at made them...they also added sliced tomato after the heating was done, but I don't like tomato so to *me* the inclusion of them is not how to make a great pastrami sandwich. :D

        11 Replies
        1. re: mariannas

          I like rye bread and mustard, with a big slice of a salty dill pickle. I like a slice of pepper jack cheese on top of the meat. and about a cup of grilled onions on top of the cheese.

          1. re: bigjimbray

            No No No. No mayo and no cheese on pastrami.

            Steam the pastrami to warm it up. If its whole, slice across the grain about 1/2 inch thick. Then put on top of seedless rye bread with mustard if you desire. Keep the pickles on the side.

            1. re: ESNY

              I agree with steaming the pastrami..Any fat will melt away making for a very delish sandwich. Frying makes it tough and salty.

              1. re: ESNY

                I agree with the no mayo, but put some provolone or maybe muenster, and it's heaven!

                1. re: ESNY

                  Agree with no mayo, but thickness is a personal choice. Some deli's hand carve because they say the slicer shreads the meat. Others use a slicer, but I'm sure the slices are probably thicker. Overall agree with other posters, tho. Oh...one more thing...Dr. Brown's soda with it. I like the Diet Black Cherry.

                1. re: travlnmike

                  Yannow, I used to say that too. But then my friend Joe Hacker (olev ha'sholem) pointed out that pastrami -- as good as it is on rye with mustard and pickle -- is, after all, a delicious kind of SMOKED MEAT. In that regard, he noted, it is in the same ballpark as bacon, and of course mayo is wonderful with bacon on a BLT. Joe would therefore make a sandwich of thin-sliced steamed pastrami, on toasted sourdough, with mayo, lettuce and tomato. This is a wonderful sandwich, and even if you are a rye/mustard/pickle purist you should try it and see for yourself. It may not wean you away, but I think you will find it is a terrific change of pace.

                  Trust me on this -- would I lie to you?

                  1. re: travlnmike

                    some of the OLD jewish deli guys would through you out before they would give you a sandwich with mayo on it lol

                    but the traditon is slices of half sour pickles not dill with past or corned beef

                    1. re: foodperv

                      I agree. And BTW, I just looooove your handle! It's hysterical!!

                      1. re: foodperv

                        My brother who doesn't like fat was in front of me at Katz deli. He asked for lean corned beef. The guy at the counter asked him if he wanted it on white bread. hahahaha

                        1. re: scubadoo97

                          The other answer jfood has heard is "to the left or the right?"

                          Lean corn beef. Shanda

                  2. Rye bread is good but sometimes a plain old hoagie is best. Slather one side with what I would call deli mustard (I think spicy brown mustard) and top with slices of pickles. Adding pickles to the sandwich gives it that nice tartness and some crunch.

                    1. When I worked in my families deli, I made a great breakfast sandwich with pastrami. Pastrami, egg, swiss cheese and sauteed onions on pump/rye marbled bread. If I could find decent pastrami in CT I would love to make one of these again.

                      Of course, you can always just heat the pastrami and layer it on some of that marbled bread with swiss and mustard.

                      1. How about a reuben sandwich for a change of pace. Just add some thousand island dressing, sauercraut and a slice of swiss.

                        1. I just made one tonight. I spread out the pastrami in a baking pan and heated it in the oven -- briefly, just until warm, not dried out. While it heated, I mixed some fresh cole slaw (undressed) with some Russian dressing. Then I piled the warm pastrami on a bulkie, slathered it with kosher deli mustard and topped it with the cole slaw.

                          Mmm, tasty!

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: mmmpointy

                            By the way, great pastrami is simple to make at home - cure a brisket(recommend snake river) for a day or two then smoke. I recommend a weber smokey mountain or ranch grill. A book like Raichlen's How to Grill has a nice starter recipe. Biting into a sandwhich chock full of pastrami still warm off the grill/smoker adds tremendously to the flavor.

                            1. re: malabargold

                              That sounds wonderful -- but would not work for me. I'm an instant gratification kind of guy. When I want a pastrami sandwich, I want it NOW, not two days from now.

                              Up here north of Boston, there are no good Jewish delis around. So I buy Boar's Head pastrami from the supermarket and find it pretty good. I know others have complained it's too lean. But I'm middle-aged now and can't take as much of the fat and spice as I once did.

                              1. re: malabargold

                                Right from the smoker sounds great, but my experience in making homemade pastrami is that it's impossibly tough until it's steamed or simmered in water for quite a while. I used briskets. Perhaps you used a more tender cut of beef.

                                1. re: Anonimo

                                  actually, I think real pastrami is beef belly, not brisket.

                                  1. re: laepe

                                    Correct...and 'navel'is considered the best of the best.

                            2. I like to steam the pastrami along with baby swiss until the cheese melts. Then put it on rye bread that you’ve coated the inside with either Russian or Thousand Island dressing. Top with a layer of either cole slaw or sauerkraut. Now butter the outside and finish it like a grilled cheese sandwich or panini. Serve with a garlic dill pickle, a few chips and a good cold beer.

                              1. You totally inspired my Sunday lunch: rye bread with pastrami, cole slaw, dill pickles, and horseradish - all on the sandwich. Regular salted potato chips on the side, and a nice bubbly diet coke.

                                1. must have a half sour pickle on the side
                                  mayo no no no
                                  we had a deli here yrs ago run by an old jewish fellow and a guy i know asked for his sandwich w/mayo and american bread, and after a few choice hebrew wrds he thru him out

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: foodperv

                                    This reminds me of my daughter once when we went to Carnegie Deli in NY once. Wife and I ordered pastrami on Rye with mustard. Daughter ordered Corned Beef on white with Mayo ( she does not eat rye or mustard on anything) Waiter told her NO he would be fired if he placed that order into the kitchen (just joking) so daughter told him to forget it and she ordered Potatoe Pancakes instead.

                                    1. re: RJJR

                                      At the expense of being ridiculed by the Hounds, I will tell you about the pastrami sandwich I sold at the very non-Jewish deli I once owned. We mixed cream cheese with dillweed and just enough mayo to make it spreadable. This went on both pieces of very excellent rye bread with a stack of thin sliced pastrami in between. Pickle on the side. It was quite popular and nobody ever asked for pastrami without the cream cheese spread!

                                      1. re: MazDee

                                        MazDee - I thought I was the only one who liked it this way. I used to get this same thing from a little corner deli and it was fantastic! They would serve it to you on rye with cream cheese and pickle on the side and it was nice and warm. It makes my mouth water just thinking of it.

                                        1. re: boyzoma

                                          I just remembered: there was some horseradish in that spread, too. Try it some time.

                                          1. re: MazDee

                                            Oh yum! Horseradish is a favorite of mine. I don't recall it on my "memory sandwich" but will definitely try it. Never underestimate a good horseradish. If all else fails when you are stuffed up, take a nip of the "real thing".

                                  2. This is what I call the South Shore Massachusetts version of a Hot Pastrami Sandwich:

                                    In a small saucepan bring some water to a boil. Add a squirt of regular yellow mustard to the water (Not Dijon and Not Gulden's Spicy Brown).

                                    Add the pastrami and cook for seconds till hot. Remove pastrami with tongs and shake water off.

                                    Immediately put the hot pastrami on a sliced hard roll (we call them bulkie rolls). Serve with more yellow mustard to taste. And nothing else. Good salty potato chips, and a pickle on the side and you're good to go.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                      Thanks for passing that one along....
                                      I guess this helps explain the state of Chow on Cape Cod

                                    2. I guess Tom has made a few sandwiches by now, wonder how they turned out. All I have to say is don't skimp. Always funny that people go out and pay through the nose for a thick deli sandwich, then when they fix a sandwich at home they put two or three thin slices of meat between some mediocre bread and wonder why it just doesn't taste the same.

                                      1. A regular pastromi sandwich for me would include a bulkie roll- lots of yellow mustard and a nice garlic pickle on the side...

                                        My favorite Rueben is ALWAYS made with pastromi and not corn beef.... loaded with kraut and dressing and swiss....

                                        1. pastrami sauteed lightly in a little balsamic,layered with,sauerkraut,swiss cheese and thin sliced garlic pickles. ground dark mustard spread on buttered dark rye than pressed in a iron skillet till cheese melts.washed down with a few chilled Shipyard Summer Ales.... HEAVEN on EARTH

                                          1. I had a interesting and delicious variation (at least delicious to me)... It was turkey pastrami, swiss cheese, a little coleslaw, and thousand island dressing, done on cinnamon raisin bread, and grilled. The raisin bread added a lovely sweet taste that amazingly complimented the traditional flavors of a "Rachael" sandwich.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: Mellicita


                                              it should be illegal to call anything other than real pastrami, pastrami. call it smoked and colored turkey, but please leave pastrami as the great meat that it is served on rye with some mustard and a pickle.

                                              1. re: jfood

                                                Actually, the Boars Head version is quite good! Its a normal turkey breast rubbed with a pastrami seasoning - the color is a normal soft white and the texture is that of normal breast meat. Not what you are picturing as that odd glutenous, dyed red stuff thats something like turkey bacon! I agree with you on that junk!

                                                1. re: Mellicita

                                                  jfood agrees that the BH stuff ain't bad, but his point was to give it a different name. It's like calling a low end car a Bentlee. Real Pastrami should not have derivative uses of it's name for the sake of a sale.

                                                2. re: jfood

                                                  jfood, while I agree that beef does make tasty pastrami it is not the 'real pastrami'(I'm pretty sure it started with sheep). Pastrami is a method, and can be applied to any meat.

                                              2. Bread, with mustard, pastrami, a melty cheese and... sauerkraut. Put it in a panini press or a george foreman grill (my ghetto-version of a panini press) and melt together. Not authentic, but I really like it.

                                                1. Two slices of good rye bread,
                                                  A quarter of a cup of good spicey deli mustard,
                                                  16 ounces of pastrami, warmed.

                                                  Assemble and eat with a nice fat Kosher dill (heavy on the garlic if you can get it).

                                                  Did I forget anything?

                                                  1. The perfect pastrami sandwich rye bread swiss cheese and spicy brown mustard with pickles, with some nice cole slaw on the side

                                                    1. I love pastrami, eat it weekly. I first cut a hogie roll 3/4 off the way down the side. On the top side put spicy mustard. Then add a good amount of pastrami in it. I crumble up lime flavored chips on it, then cut 2 slices of tomato, and chop some onion and add. Thats it my favorate sandwich

                                                      1. Great to be able to look up random topics on this site and get info.
                                                        I just made me a sandwich with steamed pastrami on toasted whole grain with
                                                        stone ground mustard, mayo, and cornichons. It was pretty good.

                                                        1. I hate Russian and 1000 Island dressing. Quickest way to ruin great pastrami is to make a ruben.

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                            Old thread - but for the record, a classic Reuben sandwich is made with corned beef, not pastrami. I'm not saying it isn't done, but it's like making a martini using vodka instead of gin. To be honest you have to call that a pastrami Reuben (or a vodka martini).

                                                            There is also a variation called a Rachel that substitutes pastrami and cole slaw for the corned beef and sauerkraut.

                                                            1. re: BobB

                                                              You're located much closer to the corned beef/pastrami belt than I, so I'm not about to quibble with you on the definition of a Reuben. My main point, and I grant that it is intensely subjective, is that I detest 1000 Island and/or Rooskii dressing. Wouldn't defile a salad with that stuff, let alone a nice pallet of corned beef or pastrami.

                                                              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                I'm with you on that. In fact I'll take it a step further - I detest pretty much all bottled salad dressings. Between the massive slug of HFCS and the pile of emulsifiers and preservatives - fuggedaboudit! Give me a simple honest vinaigrette any day (did you know that Dijon mustard is a natural emulsifier?)

                                                                The only "creamy" dressing I really like is blue cheese, preferably when made with fresh Greek yogurt or sour cream and lots of good-quality blue.

                                                                1. re: BobB

                                                                  Agreed. But if we can derail the thread just a bit further (; the one bottled salad dressing I absolutely swear by is La Martinique Blue Cheese Vinaigrette. It's a bit hard to find (in fact, I now must order it online), but more than worth the hunt. And, hell, it might even pair well with pastrami, although I've never tried it.

                                                                  (an idea is born)

                                                          2. Growing up in New Haven we had this great non-Kosher deli called Al's. The house sandwich was a Pastrami Special which remains my favorite way of making it myself at home. Take a pile of thinly sliced pastrami and throw it on the grill (flattop). Grill to heat through. When it gets crisp on the bottom, turn over and continue cooking and put a couple of slices of Swiss on top and cook until the cheese melts. Put all on rye toast with sliced onion and tomato. Add mustard ad lib. Buckets of half dills were always on the table.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: junescook

                                                              Thank you for your message. Here I am looking for a recipe that would duplicate the sandwiches I used to get on Whalley Ave at Al's. abd wishing I could get some of those pickles thay served there. This was back in WW2 days. I went by there a few months ago with my daughter looking for it onthe way to sally's.

                                                            2. You guys inspired me! Here's my modified sandwich. I bought the pastrami and the other stuff was on hand.
                                                              1/4 pound pastrami, steamed. A slice of provolone melted on the pastrami when it's almost done steaming.
                                                              Toasted an everything Bagel Thin, slathered with coarse deli mustard.
                                                              Pile pastrami on Bagel Thin and top with a handful of broccoli slaw (tossed with a little Miracle Whip, milk and balsamic vinegar) Dill pickle on the side.

                                                              1. Dress the inside of pita bread halves with hummus or tahini. Add sliced pastrami, then salad of lettuce and cucumber and sliced onions. A little yogurt sauce might be nice too. Enjoy!

                                                                This is best with lebanese style pastrami but works with any kind you have lying around. I would skip cheese, mayo, or other things that mask the pastrami's flavor.

                                                                Garnish with side of olives and have a middle-eastern sandwich combo!