How To Make Montreal Smoked Meat: 7 Simple Ways and Top 9 Places You Can Visit

Montreal Smoked Meat

Montreal smoked meat is very similar to New York pastrami sandwiches and can be considered a corned beef variation.

The difference is pastrami sandwich uses beef navel or beef plate while the Montreal meat sandwich uses beef brisket and is less sugary when compared to Pastrami.

Origin of Montreal Smoked Meat

  • Aaron Sanft, a Romanian Jewish immigrant, is credited for introducing the “smoked meat” that Montrealers are familiar with today.
  • In 1882, Aaron Sanft was the first person in Montreal who sold kosher meat.
  • He learned meat-smoking methods from the Ottoman Turk invaders.
  • This meal has several variations due to its diverse roots.
  • When it is strongly connected with Montreal, it is a distinctive Montreal deli meat often served as a sandwich.
  • They also mix Montreal meat with Montreal dishes like poutine.
  • Another claim is that a Lithuanian immigrant, Benjamin Kravitz, had introduced Montreal Smoked meat in 1908.
  • He is the founder of Bens De Luxe Delicatessen and Restaurant, a famous restaurant located near Sainte-Catherine Street.
  • They say that their restaurant made Montreal meat one of the popular dishes in Quebec.

What Makes Montreal Smoked Meat Different From Corned Beef and Pastrami

Corned beef, Pastrami, and Montreal Smoked meat are three different dishes that are used alternately.

  • Traditional Montreal meat sandwiches typically have only about a spoonful of sugar. However, its American versions, like Pastrami and corned beef, utilize two cups of sugar and half a cup of brown sugar, respectively.
Montreal Smoked Meat
By jeffreyw/Flickr. Copyright2022

Corned Beef:

Corned beef developed in Ireland and was brought to the United States in the 1800s as a result of Irish immigrants who migrated due to the potato famine. Brisket, which comes from a cow’s lower breast, is used to make corned beef.

The meat is first brined in a liquor containing sugar, salt, cloves, juniper berries, black pepper, dill, cloves, and ground bay leaf. After being brined, the meat is boiled, and the flavour of the finished corned beef is strongly reliant on the original seasoning.
On St. Patrick’s Day, corned beef is most typically served as part of a Reuben sandwich or with cabbage.


Pastrami originated either in Romania or Turkey. It is usually made from beef brisket, but they also use turkey and lamb sometimes. A lean, deckle, wide, firm shoulder cut, or the navel, juicier and smaller portion just below the ribs, are used to make pastrami. Because of the cutting style, smoked meat has a more centralized distribution of fat, you can acquire thin, medium, or fatty-style smoked meat.

Pastrami is a snob, usually only using sugar, black pepper, and coriander when it comes to seasonings. The pastrami-making process takes roughly a week in total: 1-2 days for brining, 3-4 days for seasoning, and 10 hours for smoking and steaming.

Montreal Smoked Meat
By Stuart Spivack/Flickr.Copyright2022

Montreal Smoked Meat:

Montreal meat is said to be originated in 1882 from a Romanian Jewish immigrant. While making Smoked meat takes a little longer time, which requires 8-10 days of curing and long hours for the steaming and smoking process.

After smoking the meat it is rubbed using salt and gets a dry cure. The salt dry rub enhances the meat flavour by condensing and synthesizing it. Mustard seeds, fennel seeds, ground black pepper, a teaspoon of garlic powder, onion powder, coriander seed, and a variety of other spicy ingredients are frequently used in Montreal meat rubs, which are often sugar-free.

Using salt and curing with spices for a week, the meat is made. Then beef briskets are smoked and steamed before serving. And is served with rye bread.

Meat is commonly smoked with woodchips or hardwood, which helps to preserve the meat while also providing flavour and aroma. Seasoned wood is used for smoking. Meat is smoked at temperatures above 160 degrees Fahrenheit in hot smoking. Cold smoking occurs when the temperature is below 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Montreal Smoked Meat Recipe

1. Curing

  • We need to take a small bowl and mix some kosher salt and pink salt.
  • Then coat the entire brisket in a dry cure and place it in a plastic bag that had been doubled up. Then it went into the fridge to cure for a long time.
  • Moisture was released by the meat while it sat in the curing, and it began to gather in the bag.
  • Flip the brisket over twice a day to ensure that the cure was equally distributed throughout the meat.
  • This beef brisket should remain in the fridge for 1 week.

2. Soaking

After curing, we have to remove excess salt from the meat. For this,

  • We have to soak beef brisket in water for 3 hours.
  • Also, we have to change the water every half an hour.
  • After soaking, we have to remove the water and dry the beef brisket using a paper towel.

3. Smoking

For this, we have to marinate beef brisket with Montreal spice mix.

montreal smoked meat
Photo by Nadine Primeau on Unsplash

Montreal Spice mix

  • For this, we need peppercorns, coriander seeds, garlic powder, onion powder, ground cloves, cumin seeds, dill weed, celery seeds, and fennel seeds.
  • Put this into a large roasting pan and stir it well.
  • After removing it from the roasting pan, put it into a mixer and grind it well.
  • After rubbing beef brisket with Montreal spice mix, we have to hot smoke.
  • We need to choose smoking wood chunks according to our need for smoking. Hickory is an excellent choice for ribs and red meat.
  • Applewood’s sweet and fruity smoke pairs well with fish, chicken, and pork. Large chunks of meat, such as a hog roast or brisket, are finest served with pecan.
  • The meat can take a long time to cook when cooked with oak, but it offers a distinct flavour. Maple gives any meat a delicate and sweet flavour while darkening it, and it’s excellent for ham or chicken.
  • Mesquite, the most aromatic wood, is utilized for larger pieces that require considerable cooking time.
  • We have to hot-smoke the whole brisket at 107 Celsius using wood chips until it cooks and reaches an internal temperature of 74 c degrees Celsius. An estimated time would be 7 to 8 hours.
  • After this, we can put meat into the steaming process. The smoking process should be done at a slow and low speed.
  • Trying to cook it faster will result in overcooking and burning while trying to cook it at a higher temperature will not impart the correct flavour.
  • Smoked meat requires a great deal of patience. This is what gives you those lovely slices on your sandwich.

4. Steaming

  • Take a large pan with a rack, add water into its pan, and put meat into a rack.
  • Then with foil, wrap the top of the pan if possible and place the pan across both burners on your gas stove.
  • Boil the water in high heat, reduce to medium-low heat, and continue cooking for 3 hours.
  • To keep a nice simmer, add more hot water.
  • After 3 hours of steaming, we can check by inserting a thermometer into it.
  • We want to steam until the meat reaches 82°C.

5. Serving Montreal Smoked Meat

After taking the meat poutine from steaming, keep it aside for ten minutes and pat dry and cool slightly.

  • Cut the whole brisket into lean flat slices. We should have a sharp knife and cut against the grain. It is usually cut by hand to keep its shape, as using a meat cutter would cause the fragile meat to crumble.
  • The whole briskets should be stored in steaming to preserve the warmth. They will cut the brisket according to the need of the customer.
Montreal Smoked Meat
By Wilson Hui/Flickr.Copyright2022
  • While cutting the meat, there is a lot of chance to break beef brisket into fragmented pieces.
  • These broken pieces are collected together and served along with cheese curd, french fries, swiss cheese, pizza, spaghetti, and gravy with smoked beef brisket.
  • Then we can serve it with a rye bread sandwich

The meat sandwich is devoid of cheese to reflect its Jewish origins, as kosher dietary habits prohibit the consumption of meat and dairy products at the same time. However, most restaurants and delis serving meat dishes in Montreal and elsewhere in Quebec are not kosher.

Furthermore, they can prepare their meat in a variety of ways. The duration for brining, seasoning, smoking, the amount of fat content and the size of the slices vary.

Montreal Smoked Meat
By fusionata/Flickr.Copyright2022

Places to get the Best Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwiches

Many diners and fast food restaurant franchises in Montreal, Quebec, and the rest of Canada provide Montreal smoked meat. Smoked meat, like poutines, has been famous in Montreal since the nineteenth century and is considered typical of the city’s cuisine.

1.  Reuben’s Deli & Steakhouse

It is a famous place where we can get the best-smoked meat sandwiches. It is located at Sainte-Catherine Street West, and it has been serving Montreal smoked meat for 40 years. Here we can get old-fashioned smoked meat and brisket that is hand-carved.

2. Jarry Smoked Meat

This restaurant is open 24 hours a day, so you can grab a smoked meat sandwich whenever you want. It is located in the St-Leonard neighborhood, which has been serving Montreal smoked meat for nearly 50 years.

Their meat is an authentic deli. There’ll be a full menu here, as well as fan favourites like smoked meat sandwiches and Jarry-exclusive poutine.

3. Le Roi du Smoked Meat

This famous restaurant is situated at St-Hubert, corner St-Zotique in Montreal. They serve their signature Montreal meat sandwiches. The name of the restaurant means king of smoked meat.

4. Schwartz’s Deli

For almost 90 years, Schwartz has proudly served as a Montreal institution. Reuben Schwartz, a Romanian Jewish immigrant, started it in 1928.

People often have a discussion about who is primarily responsible for bringing this cuisine from Eastern Europe to Montreal. Many people believe that Reuben Schwartz made perfect smoked meat in 1928, which may now be savoured at Schwartz’s Deli.

Montreal smoked meat
By kowarski/Flickr.Copyright2022

5. Dunn’s Famous Deli and Steakhouse

It is located in Montreal, Quebec, founded by Myer Dunn in 1927. They serve some famous dishes like cheesecake, Montreal meat, and Pastrami.

6. Lester’s Deli

For almost 70 years, Montreal’s famed excellent meat, as well as other favourite foods, has been available on a daily basis (poutine, hot dogs, burgers). Their best meat is known for its tenderness.

7. Beaubien Deli

It is a family restaurant located at Rue Beaubien, Montreal. They are best known for their poutine Smoked meat.

8. Smoke Meat Pete

It is located near the island of Montreal, and the founder of the restaurant is Peter Varvaro. At this restaurant, we can grab wonderfully cooked best meat, smoked ribs, and smoked sandwiches.

It has a devoted following for its distinctive thick, soft, and well-spiced slices of meat, which are considered among the best in town.

Montreal Smoked Meat
By françois lafontaine/Flickr.Copyright 2022


To conclude

Nowadays, smoked, steamed meat packages are available at grocery stores and delicatessens. Many famous Montreal restaurants advertise their version of Montreal smoked meat sandwiches as “the greatest” or “the most authentic” due to their diverse forms.

Aren’t you tempted to get a bite of Montreal meat? Don’t say, you aren’t!! Come on, let us know your thoughts. Comment below.

Also, read Best Steakhouse in Ottawa.



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