If you are looking forward to a trip to Montreal, then one thing you cannot exclude is taking the opportunity to try Montreal’s famous smoked meat. If you are a meat eater, then this may well be the culinary high point of your trip to this great city, and, if you fit it in early, you may find yourself trying out different smoked meat restaurants and delis to keep getting that delicious, smoky flavour again and again!
Photo by Adam Kudurshian
So, to make your experience complete, here we are going to talk about what Montreal smoked meat actually is – so you can appreciate the work that went into its preparation – and how to eat it like a local:
What Is Smoked Meat?
Montreal style smoked meat is a style of smoked beef in the Jewish deli tradition. It is not dissimilar to pastrami, however it is the differences in the cut of meat used, the preparation and the seasonings that make it unique and distinctive to Montreal. Made from beef brisket which has been wet cured in brine, marinated in a blend of spices, smoked for several days, and then steamed, it has a slightly different fat distribution and texture than pastrami (which is made from a fattier part of the cow called the navel), and many say a smokier flavour.
Where to Get It
In Montreal, you will find no shortage of places that will serve you smoked meat the way it is supposed to be served – warm. Outside of Montreal smoked meat can still be found in delis, but as they tend to sell less of it they don’t keep whole steamed briskets ready to carve you off a warm slice, and simply reheat a cold cut. This is nice, but doesn’t compare to a fresh, hot piece of smoked meat eaten in Montreal! Everyone who makes smoked meat has their own distinctive spice blends and preparation methods, so the best restaurants in Montreal will all argue that their meat is the best! The best thing to do is, of course, try as many as you can!
You can also buy smoked meat in delis that can be taken home and served later.
How Should It Be Served?
The classic way for smoked meat to be served is on rye bread, with very high quality mustard and sometimes things like pickles, coleslaw and French fries. Of course, if you happen to dislike rye or mustard, you can order your smoked meat in a different sort of bread or top it with a different sauce like Russian dressing, but if you want to eat it like a Montreal native, smoked meat on rye is the way to go!
It is also said by some smoked meat aficionados that the perfect accompaniment to a smoked meat sandwich is a Cherry Coke!
If you are in Montreal, sampling this local specialty meat is an experience not to miss, especially if you are already a fan of other deli meats like pastrami!