Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Mighty Pastrami

I love delis and I often linger for a long time in front of the deli meat counter, adding way more time to my grocery runs than is actually required but I can’t help it.  I enjoy studying the different slabs of meat, admiring the different colours and textures and I’m not one to turn down a free sample of something spicy on a toothpick.  Growing up, I developed such a strong liking for basic black forest ham; it was pretty much the only meat I ever had on sandwiches.  Now, it’s all worn out to me but thankfully, there are so many other tasty meats to take its place.

Like pastrami!

A staple to some, but still relatively new to me, the Mighty Pastrami is a solidly filling, meaty-meal of a sandwich.  It can be served hot or cold, on toasted or fresh bread, paired with sauerkraut, onions, Swiss or Havarti cheese or plain dill pickles, or marinated in beef broth, etc. and I do plan to eventually try all these combinations to find what really hooks me.

Tonight though, I tried a straightforward, yet still quite mighty version by combining the following ingredients:

-Toasted rye bread – Dempster’s European Style Rye
-French’s Dijon Mustard with Chardonnay (Keen’s Mustard would also work nicely for some more kick)
-Sautéed beef pastrami, built up in layers on the bread
-Onions, sautéed with the beef over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes (at my husband’s insistence!)
-Bick’s Sandwich Savers Tangy Dill Pickles
-Saputo’s Havarti with Jalapeno cheese
-Spinach (a very generous handful since this sandwich is very meat-centric and I still wanted to get in a vegetable serving with this dinner)
-Black pepper

I loved the how the different flavours blended so well together and there was a lovely, smoky, spicy aftertaste of the meat, mustard and pickles.  Also, I didn’t expect to enjoy the onions but they were great!  Sautéing the onions with the meat made them take on some of its flavour and they added a nice crunchy texture to the whole sandwich.  

Some fun pastrami facts to chew on:

-Pastrami was developed as a way to preserve meat before refrigeration by brining, smoking and seasoning the meat (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pastrami).

-It is a close cousin of corned beef, as they are both cured meats but have different flavors and are seasoned in different ways; pastrami is basically smoked corned beef (http://recipes.howstuffworks.com).

-The first pastrami sandwich was served in New York in 1887 by a kosher butcher named Sussman Volk. (Moscow,Henry. "The Book of New York Firsts” Syracuse Univ Pr (Sd), February 1995. p. 123)

Quite mighty indeed!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Epic Sandwiches 101

One of the great things about sandwiches is how easy it is to create a great tasting sandwich with whatever's in the fridge at a given moment.  The standard combination of meat, cheese, vegetables and condiments is pretty hard to mess up and can be huge time-saver when it comes to making a quick snack or lunch on the fly.

But there is something to be said about making a sandwich with true care and deliberation.  The extra special planning that goes into selecting, purchasing and combining the ingredients is what can turn an ordinary sandwich into an Epic Sandwich.

There is nothing random about the creation of an Epic Sandwich.  Consideration must be taken when assembling the following components:

1- Bread
2- Vegetables
3- Cheese
4- Meat
5- Condiments

When you mix and match, play and experiment with these elements, the results can be amazing.  The sandwich below is a lovely combination of  toasted Dempster's 100% Whole Wheat Bread (a basic grocery store bread), mixed greens (lettuce, baby spinach and arugula), tomato, red pepper, spicy banana peppers, smoked turkey breast and for something special, although not particularly healthy, some juicy bacon.  For condiments, I used classic mayo and some spicy Dijon mustard to give it some kick.  It may seem basic but I chose each item carefully and I was extremely satisfied with the result: a delicious Epic Sandwich.

I'll be exploring the elements of Epic Sandwiches, some of my favorite picks, and much, much more in later posts.

Inspired by a Childhood Classic

A good sandwich is a delightful blend of flavors, colors, and textures.  To me, a good sandwich truly is a work of art.

I have always loved sandwiches. What's not to love?  They can be as simple or as complex as you like, they can go anywhere, they can be eaten at anytime and they are always delicious.

In creating this blog, I was inspired by a classic childhood song:

Sandwiches are beautiful,Sandwiches are fine.I like sandwiches, I eat them all the time;I eat them for my supper and I eat them for my lunch;If I had a hundred sandwiches, I'd eat them all at once.

Truer words have rarely been sung.  I hope you enjoy the Fred Penner version of Bob King's classic song in this first post!

I'm excited to share what I know and love about all things sandwiches and to learn a few new things along the way.