It's been haunting me for weeks now. The memory of perfect pastrami, tucked between two slices of perfectly toasted rye, with sharp mustard that had a serious bite. I've sampled a number of different house-cured deli meats around Dallas, and many of them have been pretty good, but this sandwich, served at the bar at Charlie Palmer at The Joule downtown, was the first to hit every component of sandwichdom completely out of the park.
We played phone tag for a while, but I finally got to talk with Michael Sindoni, who's been running the kitchen at The Joule for the last year after moving to Dallas from DC. He knows he's onto something with this pastrami.
"I've been working for a few years," Sindoni told me, including a stint as chef at Againn, a recently closed gastro pub in the Mount Vernon neighborhood that helped kick off a pastrami trend in the nation's capital.
Here in Dallas, an absurdly long cure time is part of the reason Sindoni's pastrami is a cut above the rest. While the chef wouldn't divulge specifics on the record, I'll say it's much longer than the three days called for in the pastrami recipes in my cookbooks. The meat is then rubbed with coriander, black pepper and toasted mustard and then air dried for a day before it's smoked. The results are perfectly sliced and heaped on to rye bread from Empire Bakery for a well-pedigreed sandwich.
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Sindoni cited a love of fermentation as a catalyst for the sandwich development. He's currently working on other recipes for naturally fermented pickles, cabbage and other vegetables.
What a minute chef, did you say cabbage? Any chance there will be a Reuben sandwich on an upcoming menu at the restaurant?
"Oh, there will be shortly," Sindoni said. "There's a Cuban in the works, too."
I'll be ready.