Last week I received three items from the Muskoka based Cottage Chef, a package of pre-sliced pastrami, a brisket deckle, and a bottle of creamy homemade horseradish mustard.
My most successful preparation (seen in the picture above) was the result of hand-slicing the cold deckle before steaming the slices, loading the hot slices on light rye bread, scooping the mustard onto the meat, and finally topping the sandwich with a second rye slice.
It was difficult to convince my tasters to wait a moment before devouring the sandwich so that I had time to photograph the delicious snack. I found the meat tender, without smoke notes, but leaving a lingering warm, sweet, and spicy taste. The mustard complimented rather than overwhelmed the meat's spicing. I tried to identify the sweet savory aroma rising from the steaming meat and think that it may have been coriander.
Even those friends who would never choose a spicy tasting food had no problem with the flavor of the meat. Some did prefer a milder French's yellow mustard though and others thought the homemade horseradish mustard was a little too thin. I did notice that if the mustard was spread on the rye first it sank deeply into the bread and you lost the mouth feel that a more grainy textured mustard gives to each bite of a sandwich.
I cut the deckle in two.
The first half I steamed whole and then cut slices from it. I found this difficult to do because the hot meat was both soft, and slippery from the spicing. The taste results were fine though.
For the second steaming session, I cut the slices first from the cold deckle and then steamed the slices as we made sandwiches. This worked out much better. It was easier to cut nice evenly thin slices and they could be steamed in small sandwich size batches in a short time.
The machine pre-sliced pastrami was ok to eat cold, but was massively better after a quick steam, or even a few seconds in a microwave under a covered dish. I find the surface texture of machine cut slices to be too smooth for my preference.
Yet no matter which prep method was used nobody failed to finish their sandwiches, many going for seconds. Everyone enjoyed the pastrami and gave their approval. The only concern seemed to be a lack of agreement on the horseradish mustard. For those who liked it, they wanted a thicker, more grainy style.
So now I have three favourite pastrami and smoked meat sources, Cottage Chef, Stockyards, and Caplansky's (I have yet to try Goldin's), all different, all delicious.
Cottage Chef - Pricing and Ordering Information.