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Pastrami

PastramiPastrami is a popular deli meat made from (chiefly red) meat. The raw meat is salted (infused in a thick brine), then dried, seasoned with various herbs and spices (such as garlic, black pepper, marjoram, basil) and smoked. 

Aside from the pepper and smoking, it is similar in process and flavor to Corned beef. In the United Kingdom and the United States beef is used and the meat is boiled after the salting stage. Recently, turkey pastrami was produced in the United States.

The etymology is from Romanian pastramă, probably from the verb a păstra (to preserve, to keep), being brought to the English language via Yiddish. Early references spelled "pastrama", while its current form is associated with a Jewish store selling "pastrami" in New York City in 1887. 

It is likely that this spelling was introduced to sound related to the Italian salami. Another theory (as it is argued in this Ladino text asserts that it is a variant of Turkish pastirma, or basturma, which is a Middle Eastern dried meat, usually made with veal.

In the original Romanian tradition, sheep meat was used, but over time pork became the prevalent choice. Romanians distinguish between different kinds of pastrami, depending on the meat used. When not specified, pork is implied.

In the United States, however, beef pastrami is by far the most common form, made from the brisket.

It usually is served as a cold cut on a sandwich, but it can also be heated and served as a side dish. One such example is fried pastrami, with corn polenta and green onions.

"Traditional" New York pastrami was made from the navel end of the brisket, which contains considerably more fat than the chest area.  It was typically served hot in a rye bread sandwich, often with cole slaw and Russian dressing. In recent years, this version of pastrami has become much harder to find.

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