When you think “pastrami,” you probably think “sandwich.” But chefs across the nation are applying the pastrami process of brining, spicing, air drying, and smoking to all corners of their menus. At Mission Chinese in San Francisco (and home of one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten), Danny Bowien offers kung pao pastrami. At Alder in New York, chef Wylie Dufresne serves rye pasta with shaved pastrami.

Denver menus reveal the same movement: When Beast & Bottle opened in March, it did so with a foie gras-crusted pastrami on the menu. The dish, constructed somewhat like a haphazard sandwich, was served on pumpernickel with pear mostarda dolloped across the plate. Just recently, chef and co-owner Paul Reilly added lamb pastrami with Brussels sprouts slaw and harissa-pickle aïoli to Beast & Bottle’s brunch menu.

In September, at an August Kessler Riesling dinner at Bones, the dish of the night was chef John DePierro’s pastrami-cured steelhead with pickled mustard seeds and horseradish crème fraîche. And this week, DePierro added a duck ramen (pictured) to the menu that includes pastrami-style duck that’s brined with Szechwan peppercorns, garlic, ginger, sugar, salt, lemongrass, and dashi before the legs are cooked confit and cold-smoked.

Elsewhere, chef Scott Parker is serving pastrami-cured duck at newly debuted Session Kitchen in Platt Park. Across town at Old Major, chef owner Justin Brunson’s smoked fish plate with smoked trout and mustard-smoked mussels has included salmon pastrami. Is it any wonder that Forbes named pastrami as one of 2013’s top food trends?

Bonus: A bit of research turned up this 1994 recipe for pastrami salmon from the New York Times. The recipe ran along this article about chef David Burke, who recently competed alongside Rioja chef and co-owner Jennifer Jasinski on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters. Burke is opening David Burke Kitchen in Aspen in early 2014.

Beast & Bottle, 719 E. 17th Ave., 303-623-3223

Bones, 701 Grant St., 303-860-2929

Old Major, 3316 Tejon St., 720-420-0622

Session Kitchen, 1518 S. Pearl St., 720-763-3387

Follow food editor Amanda M. Faison on Twitter (@5280Eats), on Facebook, and on Pinterest.

Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.