JayPo’s Penalty Boxed Lunch: The Hot Pastrami Sandwich

Grab a hot pastrami when not watching a hockey game in a train station!

Welcome to JayPo’s Penalty Boxed Lunch where we explore food from around the country! This week’s second official entry comes from the great state of New York, specifically New York City, in the form of the hot pastrami sandwich.

Food History!

While the sandwich was made popular by Jewish immigrants in cities like NYC, it actually originates back in Romania when folks were trying to preserve meat before refrigeration. As it emigrated to the states, it has become synonymous to Jewish deli’s such as Katz’s Deli in NYC or Langer’s in Los Angeles. How do you prepare a pastrami? I’m glad you asked!

Traditionally, it starts with brining a beef brisket in salt/sugar/spices/water for a good week. From there you apply your rub, which often includes coriander and peppercorns. Next you’ll smoke that baby until its done and let rest to at least room temperature (or cool in the fridge until you are ready). Finally, you’ll steam your smoked brisket to get it up to temp and make a nice gelatin of all that fatty connective tissue. Now you are ready to sandwich! Slice that as thin as you want (thinner the better IMO), top that on a nice rye bread and whatever condiment you like. (mustard is most traditional)

How I Made It!

I went fairly traditional with mine and followed a basic recipe. I brined in a water mixture of curing salt, sugar and peppercorns. After a week I took it out, rinsed and applied a rub that included: ground coriander, onion/garlic powder, paprika and peppercorns. Smoked the brisket until it reached temp and then covered to let cool before placing it in the fridge until the next day. From there I put it in an elevated roasting pan so it could steam. Gave it a nice slice before placing it on a pumpernickel/rye and modest application of thousand islands (I hate mustard, no regrets).

What Does a Local Think? (thanks to Joe from BlueShirtBanter)

Do you think the hot pastrami represents your state accurately?

I think it’s one of New York’s “quintessential” sandwiches so I will allow it

How do you make your sandwich?

Pretty much the same way you did, only substitute the thousand island for yellow (or spicy) mustard. And there needs to be a full sour pickle the size of your forearm aside the sandwich.

How did I do?

As a fellow meat smoker myself you look like you did an amazing job. The nine-day brine is perfect and that pastrami looked good enough to eat.

Where do you order your favorite hot pastrami?

Katz Deli is the “standard” answer here. I will say them only since they’re the most famous, but any good Jewish Deli will do the trick here.