Step into any old-school Jewish deli and you're likely to spot more than a few customers munching on a towering pastrami on rye. The traditional sandwich is ubiquitous, common to eateries from NYC to Boca Raton.
Those adopting a plant-based diet, however, aren't likely to find much in the way of vegan pastrami — unless they're lucky enough to live near Atlas Meat-Free Delicatessen, that is. The innovative eatery in Hollywood's Yellow Green Farmer's Market offers up a Rachel on Rye — owner Ryan Bauhaus' animal-free take on the foodie favorite.
The $11 sandwich features six ounces of vegan pastrami and cheese topped with German and Latin sauerkraut and Atlas' signature mustard, all layered on Jewish rye and served with a dill pickle.
The idea for the now-popular sandwich came from Bauhaus' friend, Adam Goldstein. "He called me one day and begged me to perfect a vegan pastrami," Bauhaus says, "something that reminded him of a Jewish deli. Considering I was raised within the Pastrami Club Restaurant in Sunrise, I had a good feeling I was up to the task."
Make no mistake — this pastrami isn't some store-bought, packaged, meatless meat. It's painstakingly handcrafted by Bauhaus. The recipe started as a twist on a formula he used in his carnivorous days.
"The texture is an important aspect of pastrami I did not want to overlook. It definitely was something important to me when I was developing the meat," he says. "Traditionally, pastrami was the poor man's food. Since the traditional cut of meat contains a lot of connective tissues, it was harder to cook for the uninitiated and generally not sought-out. But with the proper cooking techniques, that connective tissue would render into gelatin and turn into flavorful gold. So considering the idea of eating connective tissue sounds alien to me at this point of my life, I sought out to make the same results from plant-based ingredients… with, I believe, much success."
Spices are also a key element of the finished product.
"It would almost be criminal on my part not to mention anything about the rub and involved smoking process. Pastrami is coated with a spice blend on top," Bauhaus explains. "Our spice blend is definitely a proprietary mix that will make even the best of the best pastrami blush. With over 15 spices involved, our spice mix range from garlic, coriander and juniper berries to even the addition of coffee beans. Very aromatic, the spice blend cuts into the saltines of the brine and really rounds out the flavor of the meat itself. And after all said is done, to finish it off, I smoke the meat for up to four hours using wood from old Jim Beam barrels."
Once it's cooled, the Atlas team serves it fresh with kraut, mustard, and cheese and paired with a pickle. It's the Jewish deli experience, sans the cow parts.
Atlas Meat-Free Delicatessen is open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Yellow Green Farmer's Market, 1940 N. 30th Road, Hollywood. Call 954-513-3990, or visit ygfarmersmarket.com.
Follow Hannah on Twitter @latestvegannews.