This week on The Meat Show, host and professional carnivore Nick Solares — along with Texas Monthly’s barbecue editor, Daniel Vaughn — explores the history of pastrami, and its possible link to Texas barbecue.
The path pastrami took to become a Jewish deli staple in New York City is an uncertain one. Some meat historians believe it originated as the traditional Romanian dish goose pastrama, and that in traversing the Atlantic, passing through Ellis Island, and settling in the Lower East Side, beef usurped goose in the recipe, both for ease of procurement and cost reasons. Others, like Vaughn, think that pastrami arrived in New York via Texas instead: that Czech and German butchers brought their meat-preserving processes to Texas after immigrating to the United States, and then made their way to the East Coast. In any case, there is no denying the similarities between barbecue brisket and deli-style beef: the thick bark, smoke ring, and tender interior are present in both varieties.