May 26, 2008
What to say… it’s rare a city gets to say it is the best at something, but when it can, its residents become an enviable demographic. Montreal gets two such honors – bagels and smoked meat. I was vegetarian for a long time – barely a flexetarian these days, but even in my most equanimous moments of lightest step, I knew I’d still grab a Schwartz’s or Reuben’s sandwich when presented with the opportunity. Just too good!
Now, sandwich aside, my favorite thing to do in bring a steaming heaping pound of this stuff home and – make pie (or poutine, remember poutine = pizza, but another post)! It all starts with a hop down the street to 3895 St-Laurent, where you’ll find Schwartz’s Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen. You’ll know you’re there when you see the lineup. There’s always a lineup – always.
But chin-up, most of the queue is filled with those who wish to be crammed into a small chair at a shared table in bright noisy diner. A great time, but not this day – this day I get to wait in the shorter & faster takeout line, and I mean wait… you know the Soup Nazi? This is close… stay small and quiet and say thank you! And tip!! Oddly, I’ve ask for a pound every time, but always get a little more. It ain’t free, but somehow, I still appreciate it.
This meat, in a medium fat, is unlike anything you’ve seen. Keep the bag closed! Run home! No nibbling! This pound of meat is not a bag of chips! Go home!
Pizza dough – not my thing, yet, so on my way home, I buy some dough from some bakery (cooked or uncooked, it’s $1.00, so it’s hard to argue).
1 pound/can tomatoes – crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ pound mushrooms
1 bud roasted garlic
1 bunch basil – fresh
2 – 3 anchovies
5 – 10 grates of Parmesan cheese
pinch salt & pepper & dried basil
Start the garlic roasting (tightly wrapped in foil and roast at 350C for 30 minutes). If using fresh tomatoes, blanch, peel, and crush your tomatoes. If using a canned tomatoes, just crush and look for peels or any hard bits. Peel and diced your onion, smaller the better; same with the mushrooms. In a hot pan, add your oil, onions, salt, pepper, and dry basil. Get a bit of color in the onion – golden hue – then add the mushrooms. When it’s ready add the garlic and toss; add the tomatoes. Let this cook for 30 – 45 minutes. You want a nice dry sauce. Tomato paste is often used to help achieve the right consistency. I like fresh or canned tomatoes. In the last 5 – 10 minutes add the remaining ingredients: julienned basil (save some basil for later); minced anchovies and a bit of anchovy oil; Parmesan.
Roll your dough or whatever has to happen and brush with olive oil, front and back, and pre-toast. All we have to do later is melt cheese, so it’s nice to get a crispy chewy head start on the dough. The oil starts to fry while baking the dough and that’s a good time. Pull the early golden dough out and add your sauce. I gotta say, this is good to eat just like this, so this next step in mind blowing: open the bag; add the meat, reserving the bestest slices for, um, garnish.
Grate the best mozzarella you can find and toss with the remaining julienned basil and some dried oregano. Place the cheese on you pizza and bake at 350C for 10 – 20 minutes. As stated before, we are melting cheese, so keep an eye on it. Let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing in – use a graceful hand; there’ s a lot of meat here. Add the, um, garnish, and…
To describe the taste: the fats are like a fleshy butter, bedded in sun-wind scarred fields; earthy; sweet and rich; rooted in sacrifice; blatant submissive independence. Uff… it is like a poem.
Schwartz’s Smoked Meat – Pizza – Part 2 – Breakfast
This pie – it takes 3 – 6 people to eat it, and leftovers are often a given, so… wake up, take your last slice(s) and heat in an oven at 250C for a short time (starting with a room temperature slice is better).
Fry eggs. Place eggs. Share. Go back to bed.