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The Great Triangle (NC) Pastrami-off

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So, my lunch today was the house-cured, house-smoked pastrami that Jeff (Saxapahaw General Store) and Damon (ex-BBQ Joint) collaborated on. Ate it at home, heated up with Lusty Monk mustard (Asheville) on La Farm miche.

It blew my mind. I'm going to say I liked it more than Neal's (which I LOVE).

In another thread, some time ago, I suggested the Triangle had a critical mass of good pastrami, but now the field is even more crowded. Can someone talk to the organizers of one of the big foodie events like TerraVita or Farm to Fork and convince them to incorporate some sort of smoked meat competition into their festivities?

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  1. Is that being sold at Sax Gen store?

    1 Reply
    1. re: bbqme

      I bought it there yesterday. A sandwich of it was a brunch special but I bought a pound sliced. You'll probably want to call ahead. I don't know how much they made in this batch or the timetable for future offerings

    2. better than andy magowan's (piedmont, now geer street)?

      13 Replies
      1. re: cervisiam

        Well...I'm also interested in the pastrami served at that new deli in Raleigh. I have easy access to both Neal's Deli and The Pig.

        Perhaps this calls for a more formal investigation. Several of us could meet someplace central that would support that sort of thing - Fullsteam comes to mind immediately. We could have a meat meeting or a pastrami tasting

        If this sounds interesting, let's continue the discussion on the google group. nc-triangle-chowhounds@googlegroups.com

        1. re: Tom from Raleigh

          I'm game! I ran into Sam Suchoff, the owner of The Pig, at Cliff's the Saturday before last and lamented that his pastrami was missing the last two times I was there. He said it's back on the menu now. As for Andy's pastrami, I liked it better at Piedmont. The version I've had at Geer St. was a bit too fatty. Certainly is moist though-- much more moist than at Neal's or The Pig's. I guess fat and moisture is a tricky tradeoff. Lastly, it was said in the new North Raleigh deli thread that pastrami from Neal's or The Pig's wasn't NY Jewish deli style pastrami, but making your own versus just slicing something somebody else made scores points with me. I haven't had pastrami in NYC but I have had the pastrami sandwich at Zingerman's in Ann Arbor, which has a strong reputation of its own as a Jewish deli, and I thought Neal's and The Pig's pastrami comes pretty darn close.

          1. re: bbqme

            Having grown up on pastrami, I'll say Neals is close but lacks...I think the cure isn't spicy enough & good pastrami has to be fatty. And you need fragrant rye bread & deli mustard. It's all very hard; hmm I need to try The Pig, Making your own, I agree is definitely superior.

            1. re: Rory

              Was thinking of making my own, any suggestions on recipes

              1. re: chazzer

                NY Pastrami's cousin; Montreal Smoked Meat (MSM).
                To me MSM is a tastier, bolder version of pastrami. Some (pastrami die-hards)may argue Montreal smoked meat's "old fashioned spice blend" is too strong, but I disagree (of course I grew up on it, just like NYers on pastrami...).
                FWIW, I posted a pretty good recipe here.

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/794033

                1. re: porker

                  chazzer; more power to you, I'll see if I can find anything in my cookbooks

                  1. re: Rory

                    Chacuterie by Michael Ruhlman has a recipe. Looks like a good one. It's wet brined and smoked. Ruhlman says the cut to start with is the plate, a cut below the breast or shoulder, b/c it's fattier.

                    1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                      Sorry my go to is Mimi Sheraton, she has a recipe for corned beef but not pastrami, which makes sense as her recipes come from Poland. And jewish pastrami comes from Romanian Jews. This might interest you
                      http://www.exploringromania.com/pastr... One more try might be Claudia Roden. sorry I only have one Jewish cookbook:(

                      1. re: Rory

                        Thanks, I requested Ruhlman's book and will try his recipe, will keep everyone up to date on how it works out.

              2. re: Rory

                I just saw this board and it peaked my interested. Pastrami doesn't have to be fatty or they wouldn't give you the option at most delis (though to be fair it is probably to appeal to health nuts). The rye around here sucks at any of the places that serves sandwiches and to be fair if this is going to be a showdown sorta thing. You would want to eat it by itself since the other things are just compliments.

                1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                  You're right, pastrami doesn't have to be fatty. Matter of fact, plenty of pastrami is made from the very lean round or eye of round, something like this
                  http://www.rcprovision.com/wp-content...

                  Nothing tecnically wrong with this, but many (myself included) feel that a quintessential pastrami (or Montreal Smoked Meat) sandwich SHOULD have some fat to it for flavor. It'll come from the fat cap and/or the intra-muscular fat from the whole brisket.
                  A sandwich made from this
                  http://lh5.ggpht.com/_p5PsAaN5d0Y/Sb7...
                  would be much tastier than the one made from the lean round pastrami.
                  Just my 2c

                  I like telling the story of sitting at the counter of Schwartz's Deli in Montreal. This old timer wearing a fedora and a long, London Fog overcoat. He must be pushing 80. He sits next to me and orders a plate of speck. The guy behind the counter serves him a plate of fat.
                  Thats it, just fat from the smoked meat brisket, sliced, and served hot. It must have been tasty as hell, but I just couldn't bring myself to order one!
                  The old guy digs in with a flourish, smacks his lips, pays and leaves.
                  I'm in awe.

                  1. re: porker

                    Hi folks,

                    Sorry about this, but we've removed some posts about delis in cities outside the Southeast region, as well as posts on travel tips for getting to them, as they were off topic for this board.

                    1. re: The Chowhound Team

                      Thank god. Bang up job, Chowhound Team.

        2. Just bumping up this thread ... best pastrami in Raleigh/ the Triangle?

          33 Replies
          1. re: Tehama

            The Pig in Chapel Hill, hands down. Call first to see if they have some on hand. Given the meat is locally sourced and it takes a week to cure, they don't always have it in stock.

            1. re: bbqme

              Thank you!

              1. re: bbqme

                Really I haven't had it but my go to is still Neal's

                1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                  How can it be your go-to if you haven't had it?

                  1. re: Naco

                    Say what?

                  2. re: burgeoningfoodie

                    I've had it at Neal's several times and I like it Manhattan style like they serve it, whereas at The Pig it's served with just mustard (but good mustard) and those yummy sweet pickles on the side (which I like to put into the sandwich). But based purely on the pastrami itself The Pig's is better IMO.

                    In Durham, Bull McCabe's makes their own pastrami and they are very generous with their portions. It's more moist that either Neal's or The Pig's but not nearly as smokey, and therefore not quite as good.

                    1. re: bbqme

                      What is Manhattan style?

                      1. re: chazzer

                        Basically, substitutes cole slaw for sauerkraut.

                        If y'all go to either place also give their hot dogs a try. Not sure if Matt Neal makes his own but Sam at The Pig does. Both are equally good. They both have that nice snap when you bite into them that you can never get from a store-bought packaged dogs-- at least none that I've tried.

                        1. re: bbqme

                          Wait manhattan style substitutes cole slaw for sauerkraut? That sounds more like southern style to me. Besides we aren't talking pastrami which shouldn't have anything with it outside of mustard and bread.

                          Neal's does make their own pastrami.

                          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                            That's what Neal's calls it, you'll have to ask them why.

                            "...pastrami which shouldn't have anything with it outside of mustard and bread."

                            Says who? According to Wiki, subbing pastrami for corned beef and cole slaw for sauerkraut is a variant of the Reuben called the Rachel. If one wants to nit pick The Pig's offering is closest to a Montreal smoked meat sandwich.

                            Yes, Neal's makes their own pastrami but I'm not sure they make their own hot dogs.

                            1. re: bbqme

                              Ohhhh on the hotdogs. Yes I know the Rachel and Reuben. Just saying for pure pastrami why muck it up :-p

                      2. re: bbqme

                        (Groans with longing)

                        I love love love their pickles.

                        Re: The Pig

                        1. re: meatn3

                          Neal's meh, my dad and I tried it and it's okay but no depth no fat like the old 2nd Ave Deli.The Pig has fabulous bacon but I find their smoked meats overpowering. And like bf says no true pastrami lover puts sauerkraut on it either, Reubens are for tourists; and the Rachel is just appalling.

                          1. re: Rory

                            Mmmm - was commenting on the pickles...

                            1. re: meatn3

                              what kind of pickles, sweet, kosher? it's been ages since I've been to the pig.

                              1. re: Rory

                                They are sweet and very crisp. Similar to 9 day pickles. Not the type you find in a restaurant. Nor the type you would expect to find with pastrami or BBQ.

                                1. re: Rory

                                  Unfortunately no one really does half sours.

                                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                    Or pickled green tomatoes

                              2. re: Rory

                                If you like it fatty you will probably like Bull McCabe's version, it's fatty and moist. I enjoy the heavy smoke of The Pig's version. To me, pastrami is savory/tangy already, adding mustard on top of that makes the flavor too one dimensional. I like some sweet to contrast and balance with the savory pastrami. That's why I like to put the sweet pickles in the sandwich at the Pig. It's a lot less messy than cole slaw and doesn't overpower the pastrami. To each their own I guess.

                                1. re: bbqme

                                  oh then I wil try Bull McCabe, I'd really rather given up. Love fatty & moist, with a dab of mustard, that really is my childhood....Funny the only time I ever had cole slaw on a sandwich was in Ireland, they make salad sandwiches that way and I loved them...should make them here & beans on toast. Anyway my dad used to make fab kosher sours & half sours...but too much salt...

                                  1. re: Rory

                                    I thought you were vegetarian for some reason.

                                    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                      yes bfoodie I cook vegan and home and usually eat vegetarian out, but once or twice a year I have a meat craving and satisfy it. I gave up meat in my 30's due to a combination of cholesterol, ethics, and then my nascent IBS was cured by my new diet.... I've met lots of failed vegans and vegetarians, I think their purist attitude in not touching anything results in them collapsing.

                                2. re: Rory

                                  Isn't a Reuben with corned beef? How does your statement apply to this thread about pastrami?

                          2. re: bbqme

                            Love this thread! Drove over to The Pig today and tried their pastrami sandwich. I have to say I was disappointed. Everyone has different opinions about food, so I won't try to trumpet my view as some kind of absolute truth, but this was personally unsatisfying. The pastrami was stiff and crumbly instead of moist and floppy. It was overpoweringly salty, to the exclusion of almost all other flavor other than a pronounced smokiness. I didn't get pick up the nice peppery spices that I prefer.

                            Note that the pickles that accompany your sandwich are actually cucumber slices lightly pickled in a very sweet light vinegar with no tang.

                            Still looking. Guess I'll have to try Neal's next and see if their "Manhattan Style" is more of the NYC Jewish deli format I'm craving.

                            1. re: klmonline

                              I agree kimon that everyone has his/her preferences & that's just fine. If, you like me want a NYC Jewish deli pastrami, Neal's is better than the Pig but meh.... Next time I'm in Durham I'll take bbqme's suggestion and try Bull McCabes: for me it must be fatty & moist.

                              1. re: Rory

                                Great pastrami is magical, but I think to truly appreciate it, you must make it yourself at least once. Get yourself a nice brisket, I prefer a fatty one, and begin the curing process. I really think the home cook can produce a worthy example

                                1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                                  There is an oven variant pastrami recipe that I have somewhere. Still have to cure it for 3-5 days though. Its taking corned beef and adding a few steps.

                              2. re: klmonline

                                If you didn't like The Pig's version than I doubt you'll like Neal's as well. I think Bull McCabe's is closer to what you're looking for. I haven't had NY Jewish deli version so I have no frame of reference but based on your and Rory's description Bull McCabe's is a closer fit. Note: they serve it as a Rueben so you may want to ask them to skip the kraut and Russian dressing and just serve it with mustard.

                                One point of contention, however. I agree with your description of The Pig's pastrami except it has a lot of pepper and spices. Indeed, some may find it too be too much.

                                1. re: bbqme

                                  Finally made it over to Bull McCabe's yesterday for lunch. She had the Reuben, I had it as a straight pastrami sandwich with mustard.

                                  You were certainly correct that the preparation is much more "NY Jewish deli version" in that it was moist and shaved thinly with LOTS of fat. Unfortunately it was so over-salted as to create mouth burn. Every other flavor was masked by salt.

                                  Thanks for the recommendation, and if this particular batch was just a one-time seasoning mistake, I would go back. If it is the norm, I think it's more sodium than I should eat... in a lifetime.

                                  1. re: klmonline

                                    Good to know but I never associate NY style meat with being "shaved thinly". That to me conjures up images of your local subway or whatever slicing meat paper thing on a slicing machine. Just what my mind conjures up.

                                    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                      Not paper thin. But thin enough to pile up in wavy sheets rather than "brisket slicing" where each cut is a substantial slab in itself.

                                    2. re: klmonline

                                      I hope the salt-heavy flavor was out of the norm but I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't. Since I usually have it with cole slaw, it may mask some of the saltiness. But at least they are making their own, so few are. Hopefully they will nail it eventually.

                                  2. re: klmonline

                                    I really remembered the pickle preparation differently - guess the mind is slipping. I do remember loving them though!