When we got engaged this summer, Evan's parents decided to throw us a party in Wisconsin. A few weeks before our visit, they called to ask what kind of food we wanted for the party. Evan had one thing to say:
"All I want is a big kosher pastrami sandwich on rye." His parents were on it.
After much discussion of what kind of pastrami, and which brand of rye, we quickly discovered that it's actually not so easy to find kosher pastrami in Mequon, Wisconsin. His parents called local grocery stores to no avail, and even contacted a synagogue, but no such luck. Eventually they decided to do what we all do when we can't find the thing we're looking for: order it online.
They landed on the website for Grow and Behold, a company committed to pasturered, kosher meats. Knowing their son's appetite for pastrami, they ordered enough to feed a small village.
When we arrived at their home, Evan made a beeline for the freezer to check out the goods. It was indeed pastrami, but it was also about 50% fat.
That beef fat, which is actually delicious on hot pastrami, where it gets a little melty and is very flavorful, wouldn't be very good on the cold sandwich Evan had been envisioning. It would be flaccid and rubbery.
The party was still wonderful (no fatty pastrami could keep that from happening), and when it was all over, his parents put us on a plane with the leftover pastrami (hopefully the people on our plane enjoyed the meaty aroma wafting from row 23). They also arranged for the company to send us a second, hopefully improved, shipment of the pastrami to make up for the first one they sent.
We received it.
It was also a bit too marbled for our taste.
But it got me thinking: the pastrami didn't look too different from raw bacon in that it was mostly fat. And with bacon, the idea is to render that fat until most of it melts away and you're left with crispy pieces of meat.
So I mixed up my trusty bacon spice mix of smoked paprika, brown sugar, pepper, and smoked salt.
And sprinkled it all over the pastrami slices.
I baked them for about 15 minutes, then flipped them, and baked them for another 7 or so. After draining them on paper towels, the results were, as i'd hoped, pretty much like pork bacon.
We ate it with scrambled eggs and garlicky spinach for breakfast.
And since we now have about 47 pounds of this pastrami left in the freezer, we know it won't be long before we can make it again.
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar Pantry
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika $1.50 for 1 ounce
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked salt (or regular salt) $2 for 3 ounces
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper Pantry
- 8 ounces thinly sliced pastrami, ideally with some fat $10
Recipe Serves 4
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Combine the brown sugar, paprika, smoked (or regular) salt, and black pepper in a small bowl. Stir well to combine.
- Arrange the sliced pastrami on top of the foil, making sure not to overlap them. If necessary, start a second pan.
- Sprinkle the spice mixture all over the top of the pastrami slices, coating evenly.
- Bake for 15 minutes, until the pastrami is mostly crisp.
- Use tongs to flip each piece of pastrami.
- Return to the oven, and bake for another 6-8 minutes, until very crisp.
- Drain the pastrami bacon on paper towels.
- Serve hot.