If you are a fan of juicy, meaty sandwiches, then you have to, at some point in your life, try the traditional Montreal smoked meat sandwich. If you live in Quebec, of course, you can indulge in this delicious treat whenever you like, but if not, seek it out in your local specialist deli, or wait until you have a chance to visit Montreal and get the real thing!
Photo by Aram Kudurshian
What Is a Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich or Plate?
In Montreal, a smoked meat sandwich or plate features delicious cured and smoked beef brisket, along with the traditional accompaniments of mustard and rye bread. If you favour a different sort of bread or mustard isn’t the condiment for you, then you can of course have variations on the classic plate with smoked meat Montreal is famous for, because it is of course the brisket itself that is the important part!
How Is Montreal Smoked Beef Brisket Made?
The way the traditional smoked meat is prepared involves first salting and curing the meat. Most typically, the meat is air cured, though some people prefer to prepare it by brining it. A blend of spices is used to give it a distinctive flavour during this part of the process. It is then smoked-cooked, before finally being steamed. Typically, the curing and salting process can take around 12 hours. The meat is usually carved while it is still warm from the steaming part of its preparation, and the majority of delis offering the true Montreal smoked meat experience do this by hand. If you are taking it in a restaurant or as a sandwich to go (rather than to eat at home), you will therefore get thick, warm slices of tasty, freshly prepared smoked, cured, seasoned beef to enjoy. It is normally eaten for lunch, but is so delicious it can be enjoyed really for any meal!
What is the History of Montreal Smoked Meat
While smoking has been used as a means of preserving meat for a very long time, the Montreal smoked brisket is first thought to have appeared in Canada in the late 19th century, and was brought over by Jewish immigrants from Europe. It is perhaps not surprising then, that Montreal smoked meat shares a lot of similarities with New York’s famous pastrami, which was introduced at around the same time. Pastrami uses a different part of the brisket, and different spice blends, and is also usually wet cured whereas the Montreal approach favours dry curing (though not exclusively), but they are similar deli meats served and eaten in fairly similar ways (making it important to try both at some point in your life, so you can savour the differences!).
For Montreal’s carnivores, the smoked meat sandwich is one of life’s pleasures, and something the city is proud of just as much as Philadelphia is of its cheese steaks or New York is of its subs. If you ever get the opportunity, try out a smoked meat sandwich in Montreal – you will not regret it!