This week I tried Josh’s Deli’s Fried Chicken Pastrami and a gorgeous Porchetta sandwich at Michaels Genuine Food & Drink.
I’ve written before about how much I like Josh’s Deli; but since my weekly post is dedicated to Great New things I eat, this week I get to mention that tiny temple again.
“Put Some South In Your Punim”, reads the specials board over at the Deli, signifying there is something lurking under Joshua’s sleeve that combines Southern cuisine with a jewish twang. And this is what “Fried Chicken Pastrami” is all about. There’s no chicken. Pastrami is a 100% beef product, a labor of love delicacy made by taking a brisket, curing it for a week in salt and them smoking it for a very precise amount of time (around four hours with a pressure smoker). Josh does all this himself at the Deli, which explains the justified following he has quickly developed with local critics, bloggers, and food lovers in general.
A thick slab of his delicious pastrami is soaked overnight in buttermilk. This process is akin to the one for making the best fried chicken possible: first you brine it, then you soak it in buttermilk overnight. The bacteria in the buttermilk breaks down the tissue in the protein, making it extremely tender. In addition to this, it acts as a balancing agent since the curing/brining process renders quite a salty meat, which would become too salty if cooked directly given the loss in moisture. The buttermilk absorbs part of the saltiness and helps balance the savory content once the pastrami is subject to heat. Some dredging ensues of course. A secret combination of flours (I hear there is the elusive rye flour) and egg help make the coating before being dipped in the fryer.
When deciding what to do with such a rich creation, Josh had two options: he could’ve made it into a sandwich, with perhaps a biscuit like dough so it resembles the popular chicken and biscuits, or go with the popular combination of chicken and waffles. He went for the later. But of course, as with everything at Josh’s Deli, it couldn’t just be any waffle or any syrup. The waffle batter includes some Jewish “touches” from, again, rye flour and also from caraway seeds present in rye bread. Maple syrup (not extracted from trees by Josh, at least not yet!) is combined with his proprietary mustard to create a sweet but tangy sticky sauce you need to dribble all over the final product.
When Josh first told me about this dish, he told me it was one of the best things he has tasted in recent memory. I agree, and I for one will make an effort to drive up to Surfside more frequently just get this “South in my Punim”. You should all do the same.
The restaurant that probably needs less blog posts in Miami is Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in the Design District. But this week I ate something there I had never eaten before and want to suggest you all do too: The porchetta sandwich. Last I checked there were almost 30 blog posts about MGFD, and that’s just those of us who take the effort of sharing them via Urbanspoon.
The place remains as popular a ever. Always packed, with folks without a reservation being turned down a dozen per hour at least. There just aren’t that many places in town where you can eat better. It’s so consistent, so good, that I can’t say I’ve ever had anything there I haven’t liked, and I’ve been to Michael’s a lot. Most of my visits have been either for brunch or lunch though, and I have almost always gone for what I call the “money” section of the lunch menu: the sandwiches.
Pork belly, short rib, turkey, fish of the day, burger, most of them I’ve had and have all been a delight with every bite with those buttery brioche type buns and perfect hand cut fries. The porchetta though, I had never had, and ever since I did this week I have been dreaming of going back for it once more. The slice of porchetta is slightly crispy right on the edge where it needs to be, and tender in the middle. You can taste the rosemary from the slow cooking process and the sandwich comes in slightly burned white bread; some pickled fennel, aioli and rugula pair it of brilliantly.
With a pint of Michael’s own brew and a Hedy Goldsmith dessert to follow, lunch time rarely gets any better.
See you next week,