Friday, April 13, 2007

WFD? Smoked Meat Sandwich with Celery Root Remoulade

Montreal's famous smoked meat on rye with a remoulade of celery root and pecans

One cannot live in Montreal for very long without devouring a smoked meat sandwich, be it from the famous Schwartz’s, or at the corner casse croute. Thanks to contributions from the local Jewish community, we have the best smoked meat in North America. If you think you’ve never had smoked meat, it’s what Americans call corned beef or pastrami and the British call salt beef, so maybe you’re just had it under another guise.

We like to buy ours straight from the butchers rather than order it in a restaurant and we’re convinced that the best in Montreal can be found at …..ready?...a small, family run place in Point St-Charles called Quebec Smoked Meat (1889 Center St. (514) 935-5297) Don’t look for a website or anything like that, this place is so old school they don’t even have Interac and operate strictly on a cash basis. It seems like the two guys behind the counter have been there forever and nothing ever changes in the store.
Thank goodness for that, because their meat is something to write home about. It’s even something to pack in your carry-on and bring home with you for visits, which I have been known to do. Who cares if I smell like a traveling Ukrainian deli?

Quebec Smoked Meat has been around long enough that Danny remembers when he was a six-year-old living around the corner and going there with his mom. Ordering is simple: two pounds of sliced smoked meat, two loaves of Kimmel (caraway rye) bread and a jar of kosher pickles. (Incidentally, that was our purchase on the way home from the hospital with two-day-old Noah. A very wise one too, as we didn’t have to cook for a few days)

Most places heap up a pile of fries next to the smoked meat sandwich, but I prefer a salad and until we start getting some spring lettuce that actually tastes like a green, my choice is a creamy celery-root remoulade. Celery root (also called celeriac or ‘knob celery’ which I kinda like but would look silly on a menu) is a relative of the humble celery that is developed for its root rather than it’s stalks. It’s pretty popular here in Quebec and local chefs like to play around with it in soups and salads, passing it off as something gourmet, when really most cookbooks ignore it as if it’s some kind of cow fodder.

The truth? It’s delicious! A welcoming burst of flavor and a much-needed crunch to my palate which has grown tired of tasteless lettuce from California. I keep it simple: make a quick julienne, a dressing, toss a handful of nuts in, and voila, the perfect side to a Medium Fat Smoked Meat Sandwich.

All I need now is a cherry coke.

Celery Root Remoulade with Pecans:

1 small celery root, peeled and julienned fine, (about 2 cups)
¼ cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
¼ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix cream and Dijon together. Season with salt and pepper; toss with celery root and pecans. Check seasoning again and adjust if needed.
Serve immediately.

1 comment:

Zaak said...

Yesterday, I bought meat for the first time in Guatemala. Amber has bought meat, but I got some pastrami and I sorely miss Montreal smoked meat. You've got it good out there... though our fresh fruit and coffee on this end is quite délicieux.


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