Tasting Table: Start Topping Your Pizza With Pastrami

In the pantheon of meaty pizza toppings, pepperoni, sausage, ham, and heck, even ground beef generally take center stage. But that’s such a limiting worldview. If you’re one to buck convention, a silent contender is waiting in the wings ready to take your pie to new heights — pastrami. Yes, you heard correctly — that beef brisket cut generally reserved for deli sandwiches of the same name. This left-field choice might raise a few eyebrows, but let us assure you, pastrami on pizza is a revelation waiting to be explored.

At first glance, pastrami might seem like an odd choice for a pizza topping, but when you break it down, it shares plenty of similarities with the typical cured topping options. What sets pastrami apart, however, is its robust peppery crust and warm spice blend that permeates each slice. This unique flavor profile adds a layer of complexity to pizza that other proteins just can’t deliver.

But pastrami brings more than just a bold flavor to the pizza; it introduces a deep umami that marries seamlessly with the cheese and sauce, be that a classic rustica, arrabbiata, pesto, or alfredo sauce. The savory, salty notes of pastrami reflect off the gooey, melted cheese as acidic sauce elements contrast with the cut’s fatty richness. It’s this unexpected combination that shakes off naysayers with their “whys” and boldly insists “Why not?”

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