Salami is one of the most interesting foods ever made because of its unique flavor profile.
It is sweet, spicy, hot, and savory all at the same time. It can be eaten mixed in pizzas, pasta, soups, and stews.
One of the favorite ways is to eat it as is – simply sliced thinly and served uncooked in charcuteries.
Since that is the case, it’s important to know how to slice it right.
The best way to cut salami into thin, even slices is with a sharpened and well-honed knife. This, admittedly, requires considerable skill. But a good level of dexterity with knives can be easily acquired with enough practice.
Those who aren’t as confident with their blade-wielding can use other gadgets which are just as able and almost as cost-effective: the mandolin, food processor, and a machine slicer.
But before the specifics are discussed, some facts must be known about our featured ingredient so that people can use the right tool.
What is a Salami?
The main ingredients in this sausage are ground pork and cubed fat.
This is then seasoned with salt and various spices, stuffed into the cleaned large intestines of a pig, and then cured and smoked or dried for a very long time.
This sausage is quite large, measuring 3 to 4 inches in diameter.
Made practically from the same ingredients and in the same process, this is the smaller version of our featured ingredient, measuring an inch in diameter.
The Salamino Piccante AKA Pepperoni
The most popular version, this is originally made in the Italian town of Felino.
Apart from the main ingredients, this has a lot of spicy red pepper, giving it that orange hue. Most of us know this as Pepperoni.
How to Slice it Thinly?
1. With a Knife
Can be used for all types of Salami.
A regular chef’s knife is your best bet when it comes to cutting this sausage up to almost translucent slivers.
Doing so with the larger salami may be a challenge, but is achievable with the following tips:
• Sharpen and hone your knife.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when slicing meat is using a blunt blade.
Make sure yours is sharpened and well-honed before using it on anything.
• Par freeze the meat.
Put the sausage in the freezer for 10-20 minutes so that it firms up. This makes it easier to slice any meat product.
• Work on a flat surface.
Ensure that your board is stable and the meat lays flat on it.
This is hard with a cylindrical item like a sausage – especially a thick and hefty one like our featured ingredient – but it’s possible if you hold it steady with your non-dominant hand.
• Use your knuckles as a guide for thickness.
This is done by folding your fingers in and exposing your knuckles. Doing this will also protect your fingers from accidental knife nicks.
• Start a bit thick and gradually go thin.
You don’t have to go for almost see-through slivers immediately.
Make thick cuts first, just making sure each is even. Then gradually move your knuckles towards the end to make thinner discs.
Cons: Hard to use for first-timers
2. With a Mandolin
Best for Salamino, Pepperoni, and smaller sausages.
This is a great tool for those who aren’t too confident with a blade.
• Start by par freezing your cured meat.
• Cut the sausage into 4 or 5-inch lengths with a knife so it’s easy to be handled with a mandolin holder.
• Set the thickness that you desire using the knob.
• Run it over the mandolin’s blade.
Pros: Can make incredibly thin slices.
Cons: Some variants might not accommodate larger sausages.
3. Using a Food Processor
Good for smaller Salami versions like Salamino and Pepperoni.
This machine is perfect if you’re in a rush and don’t mind uneven slices.
• If you’re slicing a salami, cut it into a smaller piece that will fit inside the feeding tube of the machine.
If you’ve got pepperonis, you can cut it in half then fit three or four.
• Remove the rotating blade inside and use the disc attachment with the straight slicer.
• Turn the machine on and nudge it down with the pusher.
The sliced pieces will be deposited in the container.
Pros: The whole process will take a minute or less.
Cons: The chute won’t accommodate thicker sausages. It’s also hard to get even slices.
4. Trying a Machine Slicer
Great for all Salami variants.
Used by butcher shops, delis, and restaurants, this is the best tool for slicing any meat products.
But this is quite pricey – the smallest manual variant can still set you back a couple of hundred dollars at least.
Buy this if you do a lot of meat processing at home.
If not, have your salami sliced at the deli where you got it instead.
Pros: Makes you slice like a pro.
Cons: This is a very expensive machine that does a very specific job.