Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced

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phlmaestro
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Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced - Mon, 05/4/09 2:16 PM
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Another new Jewish-style deli has opened up in Center City Philly. It's actually a second outlet of a place in Cherry Hill, NJ called The Kibitz Room.

I ate there for the first time Saturday night and found myself feeling a little disappointed with my corned beef sandwich. I think the problem for me may have been at least partially due to the way the meat was sliced. Since Hershel's in the Reading Terminal opened a year or two ago, I've been getting virtually all of my Jewish deli sandwiches from them. Hershel's hand slices their corned beef, pastrami and brisket, in the style of Katz's Deli in NYC. The corned beef I had Saturday at the new place was clearly sliced on a machine and it was sliced thin. I hadn't given that much thought to this before, but I think the thicker, hand-carved slices that I was used to at Hershel's make for a juicier sandwich. I'm not sure after one experience whether that was my entire problem or if it was also a flavor issue. I'll probably have to hit both places one of these upcoming weekends to do more of a comparison.

For those in the Philly area who are interested in this, it was also reported on philly.com last week that Famous Fourth Street deli will be opening a second location; this one close to Rittenhouse Square.

The difference between the Philly deli scene today comparied to a decade ago is like night and day. I'm loving these extra options!


Baah Ben
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Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced - Mon, 05/4/09 3:10 PM
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The Reading Terminal is fantastic!

My vote is for machine sliced pastrami

RC51Mike
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Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced - Tue, 05/5/09 7:34 AM
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I'd only ever been exposed to machine sliced and was quite skeptical when I went to Katz's but they made a hand sliced believer out of me.  I think what's important though is that the meat has to be tender and juicy to begin with.  Paper thin machine slices can somewhat hide a tough hunk of meat.  Both methods have to be cut across the grain.  I won't get in a dogfight over knife vs. machine but, if I trust the quality of the meat, I'll prefer hand sliced.  Anywhere else, machine sliced is a safer bet.

Baah Ben
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Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced - Tue, 05/5/09 7:47 AM
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I'd suggest the Carnegie before a final decision on Katz's.

douginvirginia
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Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced - Tue, 05/5/09 7:47 AM
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I think the difference between hand and machine sliced is minimal. What's more important is the amount of time between the slice and when the meat goes on the bread.

acer2x
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Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced - Tue, 05/5/09 8:38 AM
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Most Philly area delis have been doing thin machine sliced since I can remember. It wasn't until Russ Cowan started Pastrami'n'Things on 15th Street about 10 years ago that hand slicing came to Philly. Maybe the original Kibitz Room in Cherry Hill did it too but I've never been there. Cowan went on to buy Famous 4th Street and that really woke up the town. Of course, many deli fanciers, including myself, went to NY to experience Katz's,Carnegie and 2nd Ave. Then Harold's came along in Edison, NJ, a much easier trip for us.Now there's Hershel's in the city. There is no doubt in my mind that hand slicing produces a better sandwich. It's just easier to machine slice. The suburban delis near me- Pumpernick's, Jack's, Stein's Famous & Ben & Irvs- and the ones on the other side-Hymie's & Murray's- need to be educated and perhaps offer a hand cut alternative on the menu.

phlmaestro
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Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced - Tue, 05/5/09 9:48 AM
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acer2x
It's just easier to machine slice. The suburban delis near me- Pumpernick's, Jack's, Stein's Famous & Ben & Irvs- and the ones on the other side-Hymie's & Murray's- need to be educated and perhaps offer a hand cut alternative on the menu.


I grew up on that style of corned beef. The real thin slices, served cold. My grandfather owned a service station a block up from Jack's. I used to think that's what Jewish style deli was, until I started trying some of the famous NYC delis.



Tony Bad
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Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced - Tue, 05/5/09 10:30 AM
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Baah Ben


I'd suggest the Carnegie before a final decision on Katz's.


This is good advice! I can't pick a winner in this fight. They are both good. 

MiamiDon
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Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced - Tue, 05/5/09 11:09 AM
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Machine-sliced:



Hand-sliced from Katz's:



Foodosaurus
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Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced - Tue, 05/5/09 11:16 AM
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At least for me, Don's photos are the end of the argument.  Hand sliced from Katz's!

ann peeples
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Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced - Tue, 05/5/09 11:20 AM
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Hand sliced, absolutley....

phlmaestro
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Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced - Wed, 05/6/09 3:49 PM
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I just went back to Hershel's for a hand-sliced corned beef sandwich while the other sandwich from the Kibitz Room was still fairly fresh in my memory. There really is a big difference for me. I prefer the hand sliced. I also prefer the flavor of Hershel's corned beef, but that's not the entire difference. The thicker slices are much more appealing to me.

Baah Ben
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Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced - Wed, 05/6/09 5:21 PM
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MD did not show you machine sliced pastrami from the Carnegie or Harold's.  Perhaps if he did, you would not be choosing hand sliced so fast...We need to be fair about this..That looks like National pastrami that they haven't even warmed up. 

I have no idea whose pastrami that is...It is a pretender's machine sliced pastrami!!!!!! Hey, MD lives in pastrami deprived Florida like me..Who knows where he got that pic from.  Too Jay's?  It was not from The Carnegie or Harold's.  If Harold would see this, he'd plotz! 
 
Go to Jorugo's Trip Report to see some "legitimate" machine sliced pastrami.

Hey, I love them both...machine sliced and hand sliced so don't get me wrong.  But, let's be fair to Hobart, Globe, Berkel..Commercial meat slicers et al.  Ahh..the grease and fat sliding off the slicers onto the botton of the blades....Pure heaven.  Cleaning those babies is a pain in the ass though!
 
Philmastro - Cold pastrami and corned beef....Sounds terrific!  We have that here in Florida, too. 
It's sacreligious!
<message edited by Baah Ben on Wed, 05/6/09 5:31 PM>

Twinwillow
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Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced - Wed, 05/6/09 5:35 PM
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I love my pastrami to be hand sliced! As they do at Katz's. Yummy pics of hand sliced pastrami above.

MiamiDon
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Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced - Thu, 05/7/09 5:12 AM
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Baah Ben:  It's from the Epicure Market on Alton Road in South Beach.


BTW. I'm meeting up with some out-of-town friends on Monday at Moe's Deli in Aventura.

Baah Ben
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Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced - Thu, 05/7/09 9:44 AM
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MD - thanks..

How's the Epicure doing?  Great bakery..Is it still good?  
Use to have these quart jars of matzoh ball soup, etc.

I don't think I know Moe's.  Is it better than the Sage (excellent bagels..good lox, cream cheeses) in Hallendale?  Loved their vegetable and scallion cream cheeses, very good white fish and baked salmon spreads, good nova.  But forget the corned beef and pastrami..Standard out of town shipped in cryovac Hebrew National you can get anywhere. 

There's a decent Chinese place in the same little shopping center.

I'm interested in hearing about Moe's.  I'm guessing Aventura? Thanks

So are those your pics from Katz's?  Didn't you recently ask and have to make a decison on which pastrami place you were going to eat at when you went to NYC?  




MiamiDon
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Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced - Thu, 05/7/09 10:16 AM
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Moe's Bagels & Deli in one block east of Biscayne Blvd on NE 187th Street in Aventura.  I haven't been there yet.  I am meeting two friends who used to live near me, but have retired to Raleigh, NC.  They're staying in Coral Springs, and suggested it.  Someone else recommended it to me before, so I thought I'd give it a go.

The Katz's pastrami was overnighted to my home.

Yes, I am going to NY next week, and hope to stop at Katz's, Yonnah Schimmel's and The Pickle Guys one day in The City.

The Travelin Man
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Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced - Thu, 05/7/09 10:56 AM
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These photos were taken within the last week....



The "Woody Allen" from the Carnegie Deli.  Corned beef is on top, pastrami is on the bottom.  Admittedly, this machine-sliced meat is a little thicker than most, but it is my favorite of the machine-sliced joints - Harold's included.  The sandwich runs (I think) $17.95 and fed me for three days - and I actually ended up throwing some of it out (yeah....blaspheme). 



The corned beef sandwich from Katz's Delicatessen.

I don't usually get the chance to sample both of these places in such close time with one another, but this was a unique week.  I am actually sitting about 20 minutes from Harold's and am seriously considering making a run down there before my flight this afternoon.

I definitely prefer the hand-sliced meat versus the machine-sliced.  IMHO, the meat is significantly more flavorful.

MD - Mo's is good - for south Florida.  I went there a few years ago with wanderingjew - and it passed his smell-test, if I remember right.  It is not in the same league as anything one would find in the northeast.

This photo was taken a few years ago.



I believe that they do serve National brand corned beef, but they do give you a decent sandwich for a pretty fair price.  They do have some standout bakery items, though, including their crumb-topped coffee cake - for which I would make the three-hour drive south!

The Travelin Man
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Re:Corned Beef/Pastrami: Hand vs. Machine Sliced - Thu, 05/7/09 11:01 AM
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MiamiDon

Yes, I am going to NY next week, and hope to stop at Katz's, Yonnah Schimmel's and The Pickle Guys one day in The City.


Easy routing, for sure.  Katz's and Yonnah Schimmel are two blocks apart, with Russ and Daughters in between.

The Pickle Guys are also right near Doughnut Plant and Kossar's Bialys.  I am pretty sure that your routing would also take you right by Economy Candy and a little treat that I was shown last weekend by billyboy in the LES, Sugar Sweet Sunshine, which makes a fun cupcake.

In other words, you can't swing a dead cat in that area without hitting fabulous Roadfood.

MiamiDon
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NYC Roadfood - Thu, 05/7/09 3:57 PM
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Thanks for the tips, Travelin Man.  I'm actually going to be in NYC on at least two days, and had pencilled-in Doughnut Plant.  I'm trying to make one day a "carry-out/leftovers" day in which I'll bring an insulated backpack with some cold-packs.

BTW, if you took the above Moe's photo, it is making the rounds of the internet!
<message edited by MiamiDon on Thu, 05/7/09 3:59 PM>

The Travelin Man
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Re:NYC Roadfood - Thu, 05/7/09 7:35 PM
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I most certainly did take the above photo.  Where else did you see it?

ann peeples
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Re:NYC Roadfood - Thu, 05/7/09 8:09 PM
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I unfortunately have not had the pleasure of eating pastrami or corned beef on the east coast.But we have some good Jewish delis in Milwaukee.I love Jakes for corned beef( hand sliced), Benjis for their chopped liver, and a lesser known place called the Kosher Meat Club in central Milw. for their hand cut pastrami.

acer2x
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Re:NYC Roadfood - Thu, 05/7/09 8:19 PM
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Whoa! Those french fries at Mo's look sick. The corned beef looks like most of the delis in Philly- thin machine sliced.
 
Anyone see Flakowitz Deli in Boyton Beach on Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives?

Baah Ben
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Re:NYC Roadfood - Thu, 05/7/09 9:18 PM
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MD - Try to get to the Donut Plant before you do the pastrami, pickles, etc.  The yeast donut is the one to get like BillyBoy told me when we were there.

Normally, I love cake donuts.  But, their's are not the typical cake donut with that nice crispy thick exterior and the heavy inside..Then again, their yeast donuts are unlike anything I've ever had before.  Really good!  You'll love them.  Each day or each week they have a different menu. 

Hey, right down the block is a bialy place that I use to go to all the time back in the late 70's called Koscar's (sp).  Get up early so you can have breakfast (bialy and a donut) and then you'll have room for lunch.  Everything is within walking distance of you.

I use to love a fresh bialy with salted butter and baked salmon.  Fantastic.  Never put cream cheese on a bialy......

So, after seeing the Carnegie's machine sliced corned beef and pastrami, are you all still voting for hand sliced?  Not so easy a choice is it.....

Moe...Moe....Moe.....No ...No...No....
<message edited by Baah Ben on Fri, 05/8/09 11:37 AM>

ellen4641
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Re:NYC Roadfood - Thu, 05/7/09 10:39 PM
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Moe, Moe, Moe.....no , no , no...
not for their standard "National Brand" pastrami, anyway...
it's just another "slicer joint" as far as pastrami goes..

however ,  Moes is good for certain things, as I remember a real good bread basket..
(danish, etc)

looking forward to hearing your report from Moe's , Miami Don!

MiamiDon
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Re:NYC Roadfood - Fri, 05/8/09 7:40 AM
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TT:  I was wrong.  I looked again, and the three hits were all of your photo(s) on Flickr.

Acer2X, Baah Ben, Ellen4641:  I'm going to Moe's because my friends are going to be there, which is more important than the food.
 
By the way, I found this interesting tidbit in a New Times review:
 
Mo has recently introduced a new line of cold cuts, the same brand served at New York's renowned Carnegie Deli.
 
http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2002-10-17/dining/lox-stock-bagel
<message edited by MiamiDon on Fri, 05/8/09 4:35 PM>

carolina bob
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Re:NYC Roadfood - Fri, 05/8/09 10:07 AM
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Since I like sandwich meat shaved nice n' thin ( roast beef, corned beef, polish ham, whatever ), my vote is for machine-sliced.

The Travelin Man
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Re:NYC Roadfood - Fri, 05/8/09 11:19 AM
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MiamiDon

 
By the way, I found this interesgint tidbit in a New Times review:
 
Mo has recently introduced a new line of cold cuts, the same brand served at New York's renowned Carnegie Deli.
 
http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2002-10-17/dining/lox-stock-bagel


That article was written in 2002.  I was there more recently than that - it is possible that they have changed again - perhaps realizing that they could not make any money selling Carnegie pastrami at Miami prices?? 

I did not have their pastrami, but their corned beef is not something that I would ever link with the famed NYC delis.
<message edited by The Travelin Man on Fri, 05/8/09 11:20 AM>

Baah Ben
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Re:NYC Roadfood - Fri, 05/8/09 11:42 AM
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MD - Take them to Steve's..JUST KIDDING. 

Hey, seriously I went to a pretty good French style bakery-Sandwich place on Biscayne in the 130's.  In a new Publix shopping center.

The Sage does have outdoor seating, if you decided to go elsewhere.  Have a great time.

ellen4641
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Re:NYC Roadfood - Fri, 05/8/09 12:46 PM
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good points, Travelin' Man....
(that perhaps they tried the Carnegie brand in 2002, but did'nt stick with it, due to pricing)..................cause that 2002 article confused me a bit, as well........ as I was pretty sure they told me they used National brand when I called up last year.... then I even grabbed a menu  at that time from Mo's  short-lived 2nd location in the Adventura food court..
I believe it had said "National brand" right on their menu...
I'll check when I get home from dealing poker, and take a pic and post it (assuming I can find it.... ....... I rarely seem to throw stuff out)

MiamiDon
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Re:NYC Roadfood - Fri, 05/8/09 4:41 PM
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The Travelin Man


MiamiDon


By the way, I found this interesgint tidbit in a New Times review:

Mo has recently introduced a new line of cold cuts, the same brand served at New York's renowned Carnegie Deli.

http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2002-10-17/dining/lox-stock-bagel


That article was written in 2002.  I was there more recently than that - it is possible that they have changed again - perhaps realizing that they could not make any money selling Carnegie pastrami at Miami prices?? 

I did not have their pastrami, but their corned beef is not something that I would ever link with the famed NYC delis.



TT:  Sure, I can believe that.  I think that I remember a thread or story somewhere about an on-again, off-again Carnegie export.  Maybe it was there.  I figured that you guys would tell me "no way."
 
ellen4641:  What should I order?
 
It's funny, but I heard an ad for Moe's on the radio for the first time today.  Some guy was having a conversation with a friend and mentioned "the wonderful scrambled eggs and salami" or something like that.

ellen4641
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Re:NYC Roadfood - Sat, 05/9/09 4:43 PM
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hi Miami Don,
most likely their brisket and turkey are made right there...
you may want to do up a combo sandwich...
or an open faced hot sandwich with gravy...

Hey, can you ask the Moe's food server and/or deli manage just what brand pastrami they are using nowadays?
I'm betting they say National .....

often times though,  places will try to skirt around the question by saying "We do our own",  and when I further ask "Do you actually make it homemade right here; do you spice it and CURE it right here?",  THEN I get more to the truth of the matter...

maybe you'll go for that "scrambled eggs and salami"...., Don....
see what you're in the mood for...
I just would'nt personally get a straight pastrami or corned beef there, but you may want to get it along with other meats in a combo sandwich...

ellen4641
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Re:NYC Roadfood - Sat, 05/9/09 9:18 PM
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UPDATE : I just called Moe's, and the gal on the phone said  they use "National Brand" deli  for their pastrami.

MiamiDon
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Re:NYC Roadfood - Sun, 05/10/09 7:12 AM
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Is that the brand that Carnegie uses? 

ellen4641
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Re:NYC Roadfood - Sun, 05/10/09 10:05 AM
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MiamiDon


Is that the brand that Carnegie uses? 

 
I went on the Carnegie deli website just now (www.carnegiedeli.com)
"we bake, smoke, cure our own ", etc...
They make it at their plant in Carlstadt, NJ, just across the river...
(so it's homemade, and trucked over the Hudson River)
So it would'nt be National Brand; I guess "homemade" means no brand..
 
And I even just called up the legendary Carnegie to ask "Do you use National Brand pastrami, or do you make your own?".... she said "We make our own"



mhill95
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Re:NYC Roadfood - Sun, 05/10/09 10:40 AM
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Maybe this has already been covered:
The Starkman Family of Miami's Epicure Markets also own National Deli Brands among their other Deli Ventures. TooJay's, a Florida Deli Giant also use the National Brand at all their Deli's.

Mike
<message edited by mhill95 on Sun, 05/10/09 10:43 AM>

GB944
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Re:NYC Roadfood - Sun, 05/10/09 6:57 PM
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The New York State National Brand, made in Albany, NY, is said to be the brand that Katz Deli uses.
<message edited by GB944 on Mon, 05/11/09 7:35 AM>

Baah Ben
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Re:NYC Roadfood - Sun, 05/10/09 11:46 PM
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The Carnegie actually use to corn their own briskets upstairs at their restaurant.  That's when Harold was their General Manager. 

I have no idea where Harold gets his pastrami.  He may have a deal with the Carnegie, but I felt his pastrami was not exactly the same as the one I've had at the Carnegie..Both terrific, incidently. 


Is it possible that the plant in Carlstadt only provides pastrami and corned beef for itself?  I'd love to see that plant..Smoking navels, corning briskets...Terrific stuff.  Anyone ever even seen the plant from the outside?

Katz says they do their pastrami on site.   

GB944
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Re:NYC Roadfood - Mon, 05/11/09 7:32 AM
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Baah Ben
-
Katz says they do their pastrami on site.   


Hi, Ben,

I don't want to seem argumentative, but I am curious as to the source of that statement. Their website makes no mention, and I am sure that they would be the first to make that claim.
<message edited by GB944 on Mon, 05/11/09 7:34 AM>

Baah Ben
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Re:NYC Roadfood - Mon, 05/11/09 4:02 PM
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I asked the manager when I saw them taking a big pan of pastramis out from the back of the kitchen the last time I was there.  It caught my eye and so I asked.

GB - You are not being argumentative.  I am just reporting what I was told by the manager.  A guy whose picture appeared in one of the Katz photos a while back.

To get the real story from any of these guys is not the easiest thing in the world.  They all keep their sources pretty quiet.  The Carlstadt plant for Carnegie is well known, but I've never seen it.  I'd love to.  

The Carnegie corning their briskets upstairs was something my partner personally saw when Harold was the GM there back in the 80's.  I have no idea if they still are doing that.  Maybe they do that in Carlstadt, too?

I reported what I was told by the Manager at Katz.
No different than when you ask some of them who makes their hot dogs and they say they are made special for them.  

I called up Irving's in Livingston six months ago and asked them if they roasted their own turkeys on the premises because I was considering going there with my wife.  Instead I went to Harold's.  

My wife only eats turkey in a deli and the good ones roast their own.  The woman said that their turkey was "made especially for them?" Thank you very much.

Incidently, I'd love to watch the process of making pastrami.  I know a lot of cracked black pepper is applied to the surface of what is called the navel cut of meat.  So how do they get their hands on that much cracked black pepper?  Do they grind it themselves?  Can you get bags of coarse ground black pepper?  I have no idea. 

I'd think a lot of kosher salt is also used.  Perhaps the navels are brined first, then the cracked black pepper is applied and then smoked?  I'll see if Katz or someone else has revealed the process.....
<message edited by Baah Ben on Mon, 05/11/09 4:05 PM>

ann peeples
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Re:NYC Roadfood - Mon, 05/11/09 5:03 PM
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Baah Ben- I know food services sell bulk spices-so i would assume cracked pepper and kosher salt are available that way.In my deli, I could make homemade turkey( yes, a whole turkey) and on St.Pats day, homemade corned beef and cabbage.So I am sure( and I agree with you) that is entirely possible that some of these places cook their own pastrami and corned beef...

ellen4641
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Re:NYC Roadfood - Mon, 05/11/09 5:51 PM
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More chances of finding homemade corned beef, compared to homemade pastrami....   (due to all the extra curing , pickling, smoking that is involved with the pastrami)

Unfortunately , due to time and labor costs, at most delis in this country NEITHER one is homemade...
but yet I keep searching for these homemade pastrami " joints !
not easy to find , but it sure is rewarding to come across one!  I consider it a DELIcacy !

One will find much more often that the brisket and turkey is homemade, however....
due to easier prep. involved

acer2x
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Re:NYC Roadfood - Wed, 05/20/09 10:13 PM
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I was in Cherry Hill, NJ today and stopped in the original Kibitz Room. I ordered some hot pastrami to go and asked if they hand sliced or machine sliced. The counterman said machine so I asked if he could slice it  thick and he said no problem. It turned out looking like the pastrami from Carnegie as pictured above. When I got home, it was still warm and I made a sandwich using their rye bread- very good by the way- and A&H Deli mustard. The pastrami was very good- a little spicy and perhaps a little sweet too. The thicker slice definitely adds to the taste IMO as opposed to the usual thin machine sliced stuff in the Philly area.
<message edited by acer2x on Thu, 05/21/09 11:59 PM>

Freddies Mommy
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Re:NYC Roadfood - Tue, 05/26/09 2:28 PM
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My vote is for Handsliced.  I like the texture that you have to bite into it as opposed to the meat becoming britle and thick.