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What Goes Best With A Pastrami Sandwich?

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Pastrami can be used in a number of ways. However, the most popular way of using pastrami slices is making delicious sandwiches.

But what goes best inside a pastrami sandwich? There are a lot of foods that pair well with pastrami as either sides or sandwich ingredients, including coleslaw, sauerkraut, and pickles. Condiments include mustard, Russian or thousand island dressing, horseradish sauce, and even mayonnaise. Cheeses like swiss are also a good option.

This article is all about pastrami sandwiches and what makes them better. You will find it all here – from condiments to side dishes and drinks. 

What Is Pastrami?

Beef undergoes lots of smoking and weeks of preparation before it becomes pastrami. The meat is brined for days or weeks, seasoned with all kinds of spices and herbs, and smoked.

Sometimes pastrami is also steamed, which makes this flavorful deli meat even tastier. So, what goes well with pastrami and how do you pair its unique taste with other ingredients in a sandwich?

Pastrami has a very distinctive taste. It may vary depending on what spices are used to coat the meat. Generally, pastrami is spicy, as black pepper is used in large amounts in the spice rub. 

As pastrami is smoked for hours before it is eaten, many people describe the flavor of pastrami as roast beef but with added smoke. Good pastrami, however, should not be overpoweringly smokey

Another key note in pastrami is provided by coriander used in the spice rub. It gives the smokey slices of meat a deeper flavor due to its refreshing citrusy notes

Other spices and herbs, including mustard seeds and garlic powder, are also used in the pastrami spice rub. All these additional spices add different layers of flavor to pastrami making it richer and deeper.

As there are so many flavors packed in just a slice of pastrami, it may seem hard to pair it with other ingredients in a sandwich. 

With so much effort and time spent on homemade pastrami and so much money spent on high-quality store-bought brands, you certainly want your delicious pastrami to be the star in any sandwich. 

The key to choosing sides to pastrami sandwiches or ingredients in the sandwich itself is trying to balance the sweet and sour flavors as well as adding some crunch and bite to make everything complete. 

Pairings For Traditional Pastrami Sandwiches

Pastrami on rye bread is the ultimate classic pastrami sandwich. It is composed of a few simple ingredients that only accentuate the taste of pastrami.

This traditional sandwich consists of two pieces of rye bread, slices of pastrami, and spicy mustard

Many variations of pastrami sandwiches have been based on this simple yet delicious sandwich.

Sides for Pastrami Sandwiches

You can make an easy and simple pastrami sandwich and serve it with sides that will nicely complement it. You can also use some of these options in the sandwich itself to get everything with just a bite. 

  • Pickles – With their salty yet sour taste, pickles are one of the best sides served with pastrami. They can also be crunchy and refreshing eaten alongside a juicy pastrami sandwich. 
  • Coleslaw – Another popular side dish for pastrami sandwiches. This tangy salad made of shredded cabbage will add the right amount of crunch and lightness to the sandwich. If there are condiments in your sandwich, we recommend you don’t use a mayonnaise dressing on your coleslaw in order to keep it light and fresh. 
  • Sauerkraut – Sauerkraut, finely shredded lacto-fermented cabbage, is widely used in pastrami sandwiches. It can also be served as a side dish. Sauerkraut is different from plain pickled cabbage. It is not as salty and doesn’t have a crunch. This fermented cabbage is much softer in texture and has a slightly acidic flavor that balances out the meat nicely. 
  • Potatoes – Who doesn’t love a side of potatoes for a sandwich? You can pair pastrami sandwiches with potatoes made in different ways. Fried or roasted potatoes or potato chips are a great option. If you don’t want something fried and prefer potatoes made in a healthier way, an easy potato salad will also work well. 
  • Cream Soups – For people with a bigger appetite, pastrami sandwiches can be accompanied by soups. Cream soups go well with pastrami sandwiches. You can make them with vegetables of your choice. You can make a cream of potato soup as another variation of a potato side dish or use other vegetables, such as broccoli or mushrooms. 
  • A Green Salad – You can never go wrong with a green salad. It is light and fresh and will work well for you if you consider pastrami sandwiches rather filling. Green salads are especially good with Reuben pastrami sandwiches, as they are composed of more ingredients and certainly call for a lighter side dish. 

What Cheese Goes With Pastrami?

If you are making a grilled pastrami sandwich, make sure you choose a cheese variety that will easily melt once you assemble your sandwich and heat it using a sandwich press or simply putting it on a hot pan for a couple of minutes. 

Here are a few cheese options you can use in grilled pastrami sandwiches: 

  • Swiss cheese
  • Cheddar
  • Jarlsberg
  • Havarti 
  • Provolone 

What Condiments Are Good on a Pastrami Sandwich?

There are a few popular condiments that go well with pastrami sandwiches. Without these condiments, your sandwich will most likely be dry and lack some additional flavors that will only make the smoked slices of meat pop. 

  • Mustard – Mustard is a ‘must’ in pastrami sandwiches. Even if you are making a simple sandwich with rye bread, some spicy brown mustard will add a needed kick to it. If you are not a fan of spicy mustard, you can choose other varieties of this condiment, like stone-ground, as its flavors range from sweet to spicy depending on the variety. 
  • Russian Dressing – Russian dressing is widely used in a popular pastrami sandwich variation called a Reuben. This condiment has a piquant flavor and is made using mayonnaise, ketchup or chili sauce, horseradish, chives, peppers, and many other spices. 
  • Horseradish Sauce – Horseradish may have a strong and pungent taste on its own. But the harshness of its taste is toned down in horseradish sauce, which is a popular condiment for pastrami sandwiches. Horseradish mixed with some sour cream, mayonnaise, and a few other ingredients is perfect for these sandwiches. 
  • Thousand Island Dressing – Yet another mayonnaise-based dressing that pairs well with pastrami sandwiches. Thousand Island dressing is often compared to Russian dressing. The difference between these two condiments is that Thousand Island dressing is made with pickles. This gives the sauce sweet notes of flavor and some texture. 

Can You Put Mayo on Pastrami?

Mayonnaise is one of the most used condiments in pastrami sandwiches. It may be spread on the slices of bread to bring an additional layer of taste as well as to hold the fillings of the sandwich together. 

When putting mayonnaise in your pastrami sandwich, keep in mind that it can make the bread soggy. To avoid this problem, you can toast the bread a little bit before coating it with mayonnaise. 

When putting mayonnaise on pastrami, make sure it is not a store-bought condiment that will deteriorate the quality of the sandwich and make it taste ‘cheap’. Buy either a good-quality mayonnaise or make some yourself. 

Homemade mayonnaise is easy to make, tastes better and fresher, and is free of any unwanted ingredients. 

What Toppings Go into a Pastrami Sandwich?

If you are not serving coleslaw, pickles, or sauerkraut as a side for your pastrami sandwich, you can easily use them as toppings for your sandwich. 

Other ingredients you can add to your pastrami sandwich are sliced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and caramelized onions. 

Related Questions

So now that we’ve covered the best food pairings for pastrami sandwiches, we’ve also gathered a few extra questions below that you may be wondering about.

What Drinks Go Well with Pastrami Sandwiches?

Pastrami sandwiches incorporate some bold flavors and definitely call for a drink to compliment them. 

Paired with the right drink, you can turn a well-balanced pastrami sandwich into a wholesome dinner. 

Beer and wine go perfectly with pastrami sandwiches. When choosing a wine to play well with the smoked meat sandwich, opt for medium-bodied red wines with fruity notes.

Can You Eat Pastrami Cold?

Pastrami is deli meat that can be eaten both cold and hot. 

As you can eat pastrami cold, it is a perfect sandwich meat to have at home at all times. You can put together a good sandwich in no time. You can even freeze it for later use.

If you still prefer eating pastrami hot, there are a few ways to reheat it. 

The easiest way to have a hot pastrami sandwich is to put the whole thing together and reheat it in the oven, pan, or sandwich press. This method is great when there is cheese in your sandwich to melt. 

If you want to reheat the slices separately, you can steam pastrami. Baking pastrami covered in aluminum foil is also an option. 

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