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Notable Nosh: The Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich

Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich

A hefty Montreal-style Smoked Meat Sandwich is something of a classic Canadian culinary experience (at least in the eastern half of the country, that is). For those unfamiliar with the product, the smoked meat in question is a Kosher beef cut that is brined or dry-rubbed with various spices, especially coriander, and then slow-smoked before being piled high on sandwich bread (usually rye) and slathered with mustard to make a thick, filling sandwich. Montreal Smoked Meat is very much like the more familiar Pastrami, except that is generally made from the brisket as opposed to other (arguably lesser) cuts and is a bit less heavy on the sugar during preparation. A sandwich made from it is, therefore, very much a close cousin to the famous New-York deli favorite known as a ‘Pastrami on Rye’…

The spiritual home for the Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich is Schwart’s, a shotgun-narrow Hebrew Delicatessen in Montreal whose signature dish is the famous sandwich traditionally served with (in addition to the usual pickle, coleslaw and fries) a Cherry Coke. Luckily, I have had the pleasure of sampling this specialty at the national shrine thereto, and, as such, I have thus joined the company of a countless herd of celebrities who have made this culinary pilgrimage over the last several decades.

The sandwich you see above is not a Schwartz production, but was rather made at the somewhat lesser known Dunn’s Famous Deli, in Ottawa. Sadly, the meat at Dunn’s does not, at least in my recent experience, stack up to the Schwartz tradition… The meal I had was gargantuan, and generally great in all other respects, but the meat  was bland an uninteresting. It was clear that a genuine Montreal-style smoked meat was being sampled but, sadly, the flavor just wasn’t there. I suspect, after tasting it, that it had been kept over-warm for too long and, if so, the restaurant would probably be advised to slice the cut only as needed and then re-heat just before service.

Anyway, I would be curious to hear from my non-Canadian readers and learn which of you have actually sampled a Montreal Smoke Meat Sandwich, and which of you have never heard of the unique specialty…





8 Comments Post a comment
  1. I’ve been to Schwartz’s! It was ages ago, but I remember it being delicious.

    December 8, 2013
    • I’m hoping to go in January. It changed hands in the last couple of years. I wonder how that will affect it?

      December 8, 2013
  2. No, but that’s one amazing looking sandwich! I still don’t really understand the differences between corned beef and pastrami…

    December 8, 2013
    • Keith #

      Pastrami is corned beef that has been smoked and steamed. Brisket is usually used for corned beef and navel for pastrami, but it’s the process and not the cut that defines then

      December 8, 2013
      • The seasonings are a bit different I gather but I would say you can pretty much use the two interchangeably 🙂

        December 8, 2013
  3. Keith #

    I’ve had Katz’s pastrami, which is amazing, and I’ve made my own, and since I used brisket, I guess that means I made Montreal smoked meat. Maybe. It was very good, albeit not as good as Katz’s

    December 8, 2013
    • I tried to do a Pastrami one time but it was so long ago I can’t remember how well it turned out. I’ll have to do it again sometime.

      December 8, 2013
      • Keith #

        I used the recipe on to great effect

        December 8, 2013

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