I’m not really a sandwich kinda girl, but I do hanker for the fabulous ‘Pastrami on Rye’ sandwiches that I indulged in every time I went to New York. That being several years ago now, I sat up very straight when James Martin explained that he was going to show us how to make Hot Paper Bag Sandwiches of Pastrami, Fontina (cheese) and Pickled Cucumber during his Home Comforts series. As ever, I’ve fiddled with the recipe, but the first words out of John’s mouth, were, “Oooh, this is New York on a plate!” And these sandwiches are pretty damned close to what I remember – that wonderful combination of hot pastrami mingling with the slightly sharp yet smooth bite of the mustard, the melted cheese and then the tart cucumber that was masquerading splendidly as gherkin. Wonderful, edgy and given the packaging, slightly rough around the edges – very New York to my mind!
What you need…
75ml cider vinegar or rice wine
25g caster sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
½ cucumber, thinly sliced
1 small bunch dill, leaves only, roughly chopped
6 thin slices sourdough bread (I know, not rye, but it works really well)
1 dessertspoon Dijon mustard
150g pastrami, thinly sliced
200g Jarlsberg/Manchego, sliced
What to do…
Preheat oven to 200°c / 400°f / gas 6.
To make the marinade that’s going to transpose your very British cucumbers into all-out New York-attitude gherkins, bring the cider vinegar to a simmer in a pan with the sugar, salt and mustard seeds, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Pop your cucumber slices into a bowl and pour over the hot vinegar marinade. Stir in the dill and set aside to infuse.
Meanwhile, toast the sourdough slices and spread with butter. For each of the two sandwiches that you are making, take one slice and spread with mustard, then top with pastrami, then cheese, then the cucumber. Top with another slice of toast and then repeat the layers: mustard, pastrami, cheese, cucumber and then finish off with another slice of toast, but this time, butter side down.
That’s one sandwich done; do the same for the other.
Wrap each sandwich in a large sheet of parchment paper and secure with string. Pop both of your sandwich parcels into the oven and bake for 15 minutes until they are piping hot – enjoy the fabulous aroma emanating from your oven!
Then, it’s present-opening time: snip the string with scissors and unwrap your Hot New York Deli Style Pastrami Sandwiches. OMG – just OMG – simply fab.
James Martin, Home Comforts
More than you would normally do just for a sandwich but then again….they’re so much more than just a sandwich! Very worth it!