Finding A Pastrami Oasis in the Desert
Sedona, Arizona—a desert hub for New Age seekers and purifying spa retreats—might be the last place in America you’d expect to find a pastrami sandwich. But in the kitchen of L’Auberge de Sedona resort, sous-chef Brian Sharrah (along with his mentor, chef Rochelle Daniel) has reimagined this traditionally New York Jewish creation for the Southwestern holiday set. The result is off-the-charts delicious.
Sharrah, whose only prior exposure to pastrami came from “the one or two good delis in Phoenix” (he’s never even been to one in New York), first turned the meat into a passion project more than a year ago—experimenting with locally sourced brisket, then fine-tuning the brining, spicing, curing and steaming processes until he achieved the flavor he wanted. At the same time, he found that his longtime hobby of creating condiments, particularly mustard and kimchi, provided him with natural accompaniments for his beef. He and Daniel debuted the pastrami sandwich at L’Auberge’s restaurant eight months ago.
“At first, people were a little weirded out by it,” Sharrah says. “But then I guess word got around about how good it was. Now we have locals coming by just to eat that sandwich.”
The Filling: The pastrami comes from beef brisket that’s been brined for three days, then rubbed and cured with a Moroccan-style mix of smoked paprika, cumin, coriander and black pepper. Next, it’s slow-steamed in locally made amber ale, open-roasted and sliced. Accompanying it is Sharrah’s own heady cabbage, carrot and radish kimchi (which he ferments for seven days in a base made from pineapple, garlic, ginger, red pepper paste and many other ingredients). It’s also served with Sharrah’s tangy English–style cider mustard—made with yellow and black mustard seeds, herbs and honey—and a healthy dollop of house-made Russian dressing.
The Bread: Thick-sliced marbled rye, which is delivered daily from Village Baker in nearby Flagstaff. It’s the only component of the sandwich not made in-house.