Give Your Next Pastrami Sandwich A Chopped Cheese-Style Upgrade

A lot of sandwiches could learn a thing or two from the chopped cheese. The Harlem-born combination of chopped ground beef and onions with melty cheese has seen an explosion of popularity over the last decade, driven by pop-culture references and media coverage. It's simple, filling, affordable, and delicious, one of those recipes where just describing the ingredients doesn't do justice to the alchemy at play. Using chopped ground beef instead of a patty gives you even more surface area to brown, and allows the seasonings and cheese to ooze through the sandwich and become one cohesive whole. It shows just how far a little change in preparation and extra spices can go in transforming a combination of foods that is so familiar to most of the country. And it's that inspiration that led to our chopped cheese-style pastrami.

Pastrami on rye is another New York classic and seemed like a natural fit for the chopped cheese treatment. Normally sliced and served with Thousand Island dressing and Swiss cheese, chopping and frying the pastrami on a griddle or pan completely transforms it. It not only browns, but the tender deli meat will also crisp up all over, adding tons of satisfying texture. Like the ground beef version, the cheese ends up melting all through the pastrami instead of just on top of it, forming a perfectly distributed mix that's salty, gooey, and crunchy all at once. A fluffy, lightly crunchy hoagie roll envelops everything in place of rye.

A chopped cheese-style pastrami is an easy recipe that requires only a few tips and ingredients

The only toppings for our chopped cheese-style pastrami beyond the cheese are mustard and sauteed onions. Pastrami already has plenty of flavor by itself, so it doesn't need a ton of extra seasoning. The onions are cooked until soft, but they shouldn't start to caramelize. The onions bring a savory compliment to the tangy, salty pastrami, and browning them would make them too sweet. If you want to get a little more Reuben in your chopped pastrami, adding some sauerkraut will add some extra crunch and acidic bite. Alternatively mixing some chopped pickles with your mustard is also a nice extra touch that will wake everything up. But don't go overboard with additions, the focus should be on the pastrami and cheese.

The standard cheese to pair with pastrami is Swiss, as it has a mild earthy flavor that compliments the meat without overpowering it. Our recipe swaps that out for provolone, which melts just as well and is similarly mild but with a little more creamy flavor. You could try American, Monterey Jack, or even Munster cheese, but whatever you pick needs to be a good melter, as the textural contrast and fatty flavor are what make the combination of cheese and pastrami work so well. But don't worry too much. This is an easy, comforting, make-at-home sandwich, not something to be fussed over.