Schwartz’s Montreal smoked meat at home: boiled meat, testing

Mmm, delicious Schwartz’s smoked meat, vacuum-sealed in plastic. Boil — yes, boil — before eating. Prepare for disappointment.

Schwartz’s smoked meat Montreal home
Leijon family secret? Not so much. Schwartz’s Montreal smoked meat at home. Photo by Johan Leijon

Schwartz’s World Famous Original Smoked Meat has been pleasing customers since 1928. Schwartz’s At Home vacuum-sealed smoked meat, sold in grocery stores next to the hot dogs, has been mortifying Montrealers for less than a week.

Rather than kvetch about Céline Dion hubby René Angélil’s desire to make a quick buck from the institution he bought last year, I decided the only way I could truly be indignant about this stunning act of sacrilege would be to go to my local IGA, buy a box and to taste-test it myself.

Firstly, the packaging genuflects as it should. It describes Schwartz’s as a Montreal tradition, shows a picture of the real restaurant (with address), and offers up essentially the same bio we’re used to about how it’s beloved by celebrities, athletes and heads of state, except now it’s smoked meat “available where you are!”

For $11, you get four sealed pouches, although you’d probably need to use one-and-a-half pouches if you wished to reach the height of a restaurant-sized sandwich.

It can also be served two ways: either by submerging the bag in boiling water for 10 minutes, or by poking the sack and leaving it in the microwave for a little over a minute.

Either way, the result will be the same: waxy corned beef that has none of the spices or consistency of the real deal. It’s not terrible — in fact, it tastes like your standard store-bought corned beef — but anyone expecting their boiled sammich to taste even remotely like a freshly sliced medium will be horribly disappointed.

Preparation is also a little less than appetizing, because most of the meat’s juices will come pouring out as soon as you cut open the bag. You essentially have to shake the remaining liquid from the meat as it spreads its wings from its plastic-sealed dungeon; otherwise, you’ll end up with a wet piece of rye.

If you’re interested in nutrition (and if you’re reading this, I would presume not), one sachet accounts for 35 per cent of your daily allowance of fat, and 46 per cent of your daily sodium requirement. Strange, then, that the bland meat could use a little salt.

As for whether the meat was actually made at Schwartz’s, the box says it was “prepared for” the iconic deli, so probably not. Look, it’s a cash grab, but one that’s confined to your local grocer. When Angélil and co. start franchising, thus making the Nickels-ization of Schwartz’s complete, then we can be truly pissed off. ■

For more on Schwartz’s, please visit their website.

For more on the Montreal restaurant scene, please visit the Food & Drink section.

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