So, I had kind of an annoying morning and needed comfort food. Laura
had been craving pastrami for a while, so we bundled up and headed out to get a sandwich. The place we wanted to try was closed, which was sort of fine anyway. See, nobody in Pittsburgh seems to really get how a hot pastrami sandwich is supposed to work.
Sure, you can throw a couple slices of pastrami between bread with some cheese and mustard and then toast the whole thing, but why bother? You might as well have made a ham and cheese sandwich -- it's just boring.
What you should do is take a pan with about a quarter inch of boiling water in it over medium heat, drop in your pastrami slices, and steam them for two minutes or so until they're nice and curled up and they smell so good you may die of longing.
Then you whisk out the pastrami, drop it onto a nice heavy split roll, top with a slice or two of swiss, and pop it into a broiler for a bit to melt the cheese.
While the cheese is melting, crank the heat under the pan up to high and boil down the water until it's a thicker sauce of meat drippings and spice, because you don't want to let all of that wonderful flavor go to waste.
When your cheese is melted and the drippings have thickened up, spoon the drippings over the meat half of the sandwich until it's nice and juicy.
Then all that's left is to spread the thing with mustard and eat it.
This is how I grew up eating pastrami, but not once in Pittsburgh has anybody served me anything like this. For a long time I kept ordering hot pastrami sandwiches at restaurants and delis hoping I'd get a nice steamed pastrami, but every time I'd get this sad little thing from a toaster.
Fight boring sandwiches. Steam some pastrami today.