Trade secrets revealed (sort of) from the Montreal smoked meat scene

The secret is in the slicing, apparently — though that's only when the meat is ready to serve to customers.

How smoked meat gets made

38 years ago
Duration 1:38
In 1985, Midday's Kathryn O'Hara explains how smoked meat gets made in Montreal.

The secret is in the shaving, apparently — though that's only when the smoked meat is ready to serve to customers.

Thirty-five years ago, Midday viewers got to see just how the beloved Montreal delicacy was made at Briskets.

"Well, not the entire process," the CBC's Kathryn O'Hara told viewers, acknowledging the smoked-meat purveyors wouldn't be revealing all their secrets on national television.

But she and the Midday audience did get to see how Alberta beef got turned into the classic Montreal menu item.

It went through "a pre-smoked stage," which lasted about three weeks, as the meat absorbed the flavour provided by a mix of unspecified herbs and spices.

Then came the five hours of smoking, inside an oven that was running at a secret temperature O'Hara was not able to report on Midday.

Serious skills

According to the CBC's Kathryn O'Hara, a key skill was being able to shave slices of smoked meat quickly while it was still hot. (Midday/CBC Archives)

Finally came the aforementioned shaving.

"The skills of the smoked meat cutter come into play now," said O'Hara.

"He must be able to shave — more than slice — with a quickness of hand that won't allow the meat to cool down. That's the only way you get a bona fide, hot smoked meat sandwich."

The end product is seen sitting on a platter at Montreal's Briskets restaurant, alongside a serving of pickles, in 1985. (Midday/CBC Archives)