Pastrami! That delicious, salty, spicy flavour that tastes great on rye, coupled with a great big slice of deli kosher pickle. Who can deny the old world flavour? And the old world is exactly where this wonderful meat originated.
The name “pastrami” originates from the Romanian word “pastramă”. It also has Turkish roots with the word “Bastirma” which translates to “pressed meat”.
Also known as “wind-dried beef,” it was made in Anatolia and as far back as Byzantine Empire. Due to its ability to be preserved for a long shelf life as well as its delicious flavour and aroma, this traditional meat is still going strong today.
Pastrami Comes to North America
Pastrami was introduced to North America by the Romanians during a large influx in Jewish immigration to New York. It was here that the Romanians took advantage of the lower cost of beef, and instead of using the traditional, albeit more expensive goose-meat, began making pastrami with beef more often.
Different ways of serving pastrami was observed in places as far away as Utah (pastrami cheeseburger) and even Israel (pastrami pizza).
The Pastrami Sandwich was Born
The first pastrami sandwich has been said to have been made by a man from New York named Sussman Volk, in 1887. Volk was a kosher butcher, as well as an immigrant from Lithuania, living in New York.
He ran a successful deli, and eventually converted to a restaurant where he served pastrami sandwiches. Nowadays, New York City is well-known for its pastrami sandwiches. Another place famous for their pastrami is Montreal.
Old World Recipe for Great Pastrami
Now that you know the history of pastrami, do you wonder how it’s made? First, the raw meat (usually beef, but also sometimes turkey) is soaked in a salty brine mixture to cure it.
Then it is coated in a lovely mixture of spices, such as black pepper, coriander, garlic, paprika, allspice, mustard seed, and cloves. Afterwards, it is put into the smoker to give it that delicious smoky flavour.
After the smoking process is complete, the meat is put into a steamer to allow the meat to become tender. It is then ready to be sliced and enjoyed!
If you go back through the decades, Pastrami has been enjoyed by many cultures, in many different forms, using many different recipes, but one thing has remained constant: the great taste!
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