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What Is Pastrami?

What is Pastrami? What Kind of Meat is Pastrami?

Pastrami is a deli meat or cold cut made of beef. It can be from different cuts of beef: the navel end of the beef brisket, known as the plate cut, is the most common, but pastrami can also be made from the round and short rib of a cow.

The raw meat is brined, rubbed with salt, garlic, sugar and spices, dry-cured, smoked, and finally cooked by either boiling or steaming.

Pastrami on Rye

Photo by Getty Images

What is the Difference between Corned Beef and Pastrami?

Both corned beef and pastrami are made of brisket, the difference lies in the cut of beef and the way the meat is processed. Pastrami is from the highly fatty navel end of the brisket. And while both corned beef and pastrami are cured in a salt brine, corned beef is only boiled afterwards whereas pastrami is also smoked.

What is Turkey Pastrami?

Turkey pastrami is made of turkey breast. If you want to avoid red meat, you might want to consider turkey pastrami. It has roughly the same number of calories as beef pastrami with 41 calories per 1-ounce serving.

Turkey pastrami has a slightly lower protein content as beef pastrami, 4.5 grams per ounce as opposed to 6 grams in beef pastrami.

While both pastrami types contain less than 2 grams of fat per 1 ounce, the big difference between them is in their saturated fat content. Most of the fat in beef pastrami is saturated fat so turkey pastrami is a better option to keep your cholesterol under control.

What is a Pastrami Sandwich?

As part of a sandwich, pastrami can be served hot or cold but usually the pastrami is heated.

The classic pastrami sandwich, also known as Pastrami on rye, was made famous by New York City delicatessens. It consists of rye bread, shaved pastrami and spicy brown mustard, and optionally cheese, mostly Swiss cheese. It is served with a kosher dill pickle on the side.

What is Red Pastrami vs. Black Pastrami?

Black pastrami, often called New York style pastrami, has a darker color because it has been rubbed with pepper and molasses and is fully cooked. Red pastrami, which is also referred to as New England style pastrami, is rubbed with pepper, coriander and paprika, which, in addition to the shorter cooking time, gives it its typical red color.

VIDEO: How to Make Homemade Pastrami

Did you know that you can make pastrami at home? See how to turn ordinary corned beef into homemade, deli-style pastrami. So quick and easy, this pastrami tastes better than what you find at the grocery store. "Great pastrami is not the easiest thing to find west of the Catskills," says Chef John. "So a few years ago I embarked on a mission to find a way to turn the common corned beef into something similar. My goal was to come up with a reasonable substitute that could be done in less than a day at home, without a smoker, or any other special equipment. Impossible? No!"

Some Favorite Recipes with Pastrami

Chef John's Shaved Asparagus Salad

"When you shave asparagus thin with a peeler and give it a quick curing/pickling in the mustard dressing, the harsh attributes mellow out substantially, and the sweet, grassy flavor comes through," says Chef John. "In fact, it was so delicious that I contemplated serving it without the fried meat. Happily, that passed."

Chef John's Shaved Asparagus Salad

Photo by Chef John

Sweet Potato and Pastrami Hash

"Hash is a perfect winter meal, great for those cold days in front of the fireplace," says rquill67. "You won't need a side dish with this meal -- it includes all of my favorite root veggies. Keep for up to 5 days in the fridge -- if it lasts that long!"

Sweet Potato and Pastrami Hash

Photo by rquill67

Reuben Sandwich I

"I make this Reuben for my husband...hope you will enjoy it," says Beverly Burton. "Serve with coleslaw or potato salad."

Reuben Sandwich I

Photo by LynnInHK

Reuben Pinwheels

"Delicious, pretty appetizer," says Laura Pitaniello. "Perfect for any party. They usually go very quickly too! Serve with Thousand Island dressing or a mustard dip."

Reuben Pinwheels

Photo by Happyschmoopies

Hot Pat

This pastrami sandwich is called the "Hot Pat" because of the healthy dose of spicy mustard in the filling and spread on the bread. It's loaded with warm mixture of pastrami, sauerkraut, and cabbage.

Hot Pat

Photo by James Fleming
Nadia Hassani

About Nadia Hassani

Passionate locavore cook and gardener who loves to make everything fresh and from scratch. Cookbook author and blogger. Can be found as nch on Allrecipes and on Instagram.