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Making a great pastrami sandwich

Tom Hall Oct 16, 2007 07:37 PM

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. The Librarian RE: Tom Hall Oct 16, 2007 08:23 PM

    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
      sirregular RE: The Librarian Jan 13, 2008 12:15 AM

      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. re: The Librarian
        mattstolz RE: The Librarian Apr 18, 2012 12:06 PM


      2. m
        mariannas RE: Tom Hall Oct 16, 2007 08:59 PM

        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
          bigjimbray RE: mariannas Oct 16, 2007 10:36 PM

          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
            ESNY RE: bigjimbray Oct 17, 2007 08:23 AM

            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
              tunapet RE: ESNY Oct 19, 2007 01:32 PM

              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
                laepe RE: ESNY Feb 25, 2010 07:54 AM

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

                1. re: ESNY
                  njmarshall55 RE: ESNY Apr 18, 2012 03:16 PM

                  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.

              2. re: mariannas
                travlnmike RE: mariannas Oct 17, 2007 03:54 AM

                mayo with pastrami?Sacrilege!

                1. re: travlnmike
                  ozhead RE: travlnmike Oct 19, 2007 03:22 PM

                  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
                    foodperv RE: travlnmike Feb 18, 2008 10:58 AM

                    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
                      HungryRubia RE: foodperv Feb 18, 2008 12:36 PM

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

                      1. re: foodperv
                        scubadoo97 RE: foodperv May 18, 2009 04:48 AM

                        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
                          jfood RE: scubadoo97 May 18, 2009 10:06 AM

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

                          Lean corn beef. Shanda

                  2. digkv RE: Tom Hall Oct 17, 2007 01:53 AM

                    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. n
                      NE_Elaine RE: Tom Hall Oct 17, 2007 04:34 AM

                      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. g
                        gperls RE: Tom Hall Oct 20, 2007 03:01 AM

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

                        1. m
                          mmmpointy RE: Tom Hall Jan 12, 2008 11:37 PM

                          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
                            malabargold RE: mmmpointy Jan 13, 2008 12:04 AM

                            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
                              mmmpointy RE: malabargold Jan 13, 2008 09:55 PM

                              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
                                Anonimo RE: malabargold Jun 16, 2008 11:26 AM

                                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
                                  laepe RE: Anonimo Feb 25, 2010 07:59 AM

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

                                  1. re: laepe
                                    kitchenhag RE: laepe Feb 26, 2010 11:07 AM

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

                            2. t
                              TomDel RE: Tom Hall Jan 13, 2008 12:42 AM

                              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. saraeanderson RE: Tom Hall Jan 13, 2008 12:10 PM

                                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. f
                                  foodperv RE: Tom Hall Jan 13, 2008 03:22 PM

                                  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
                                    RJJR RE: foodperv Jan 14, 2008 08:23 AM

                                    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
                                      MazDee RE: RJJR Jun 16, 2008 05:18 PM

                                      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
                                        boyzoma RE: MazDee Feb 26, 2010 07:55 AM

                                        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
                                          MazDee RE: boyzoma May 16, 2010 03:19 PM

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

                                          1. re: MazDee
                                            boyzoma RE: MazDee May 16, 2010 03:53 PM

                                            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. TrishUntrapped RE: Tom Hall Jan 13, 2008 05:29 PM

                                    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
                                      neil RE: TrishUntrapped Feb 18, 2008 05:29 PM

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

                                    2. KaimukiMan RE: Tom Hall Feb 18, 2008 10:20 PM

                                      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. MeffaBabe RE: Tom Hall Feb 19, 2008 05:36 AM

                                        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. c
                                          cook 4u RE: Tom Hall Jun 15, 2008 02:37 PM

                                          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. m
                                            Mellicita RE: Tom Hall Jun 15, 2008 08:59 PM

                                            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
                                              jfood RE: Mellicita Jun 16, 2008 10:55 AM


                                              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
                                                Mellicita RE: jfood Jun 17, 2008 06:30 AM

                                                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 RE: Mellicita Jun 17, 2008 08:09 AM

                                                  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
                                                  tebert2458 RE: jfood Jan 21, 2009 04:22 PM

                                                  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. o
                                                oryza RE: Tom Hall Jun 16, 2008 06:37 PM

                                                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. bkhuna RE: Tom Hall Jun 16, 2008 08:29 PM

                                                  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. a
                                                    armand RE: Tom Hall Sep 23, 2008 04:54 PM

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

                                                    1. b
                                                      brunogeezy RE: Tom Hall May 18, 2009 03:02 AM

                                                      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. ChrisG.PersonalChef RE: Tom Hall Jul 4, 2009 01:05 AM

                                                        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. Perilagu Khan RE: Tom Hall Feb 25, 2010 08:56 AM

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

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan
                                                            BobB RE: Perilagu Khan Feb 26, 2010 06:57 AM

                                                            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
                                                              Perilagu Khan RE: BobB Feb 26, 2010 10:02 AM

                                                              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
                                                                BobB RE: Perilagu Khan Feb 26, 2010 10:12 AM

                                                                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
                                                                  Perilagu Khan RE: BobB Feb 26, 2010 11:18 AM

                                                                  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. junescook RE: Tom Hall Feb 26, 2010 08:12 AM

                                                            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
                                                              spooncarver RE: junescook Apr 18, 2012 09:01 AM

                                                              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. Tharnpheffa RE: Tom Hall May 16, 2010 06:30 AM

                                                              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. t
                                                                tonmeister RE: Tom Hall May 30, 2011 11:49 AM

                                                                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!

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