Charcuterie and cheese trays in parties are not just one of the fanciest ways to serve appetizers; your guests also get treated to a gastronomic delight!
Just imagine the different morsels that can be mixed and matched – cream cheese and prosciutto, gorgonzola and lemon marmalade on a baguette, saltine crackers dipped in honey mustard…
This is also the easiest!
Just slice and dice everything, artfully arrange all these on a large board, and voila! you got yourself a beautiful spread.
But how exactly do you slice your cold cuts into thin, elegant pieces – particularly summer sausages?
The real trick to slicing summer sausage as thinly as possible is to use a good sharp knife.
The all-purpose Chef’s knife will do as long as it is sharpened and well-honed.
However, you can use other tools such as a mandolin, an electric slicer, and even your food processor.
But before we delve into the specifics, let’s talk more about what this is exactly and what specific variants are categorized as such.
What is a Summer Sausage?
Summer sausages are one of the smartest recipes ever formulated.
Like the best innovations, this was brought about by the need to preserve food during the warmer months because refrigeration wasn’t invented yet.
But the best thing about our featured ingredient is that you don’t need to cook it – it’s ready to eat!
Some have been boiled and then hung out to dry. Others were cured in salt to lengthen the shelf life. Then some are smoked for a long period which doesn’t just slow down bacterial growth but also add a whole lot of flavor.
There are different cold cuts categorized under this:
But let’s go back to the main question…
How Do You Slice These Thinly?
With an Ultra-Sharp Knife
As aforementioned, you can do so much with a Chef’s knife, including getting thin slices from summer sausages. Here are some good tips:
• Sharpen and hone your knives. You will ruin everything with a blunt blade.
• Chill your sausage. Don’t freeze it, just put it in the fridge for an hour or two to stiffen up a bit, which makes it easier to cut it.
• See that your chopping board is on a stable surface. If that’s wobbly, you won’t get good slivers and you might accidentally nick yourself.
• Hold the sausage down with your non-dominant hand. Your fingers must be positioned an inch or less away from the end you will start with. Fold it in to expose your knuckles since that will be your blade’s guide when it comes to the thickness of the slices.
• Smaller, softer sausages are relatively easier to carve. Harder ones can be chopped at an angle.
If you’ve got large ones, with wide diameters, cut thicker discs and then in quarters or batons.
• Check the casings. Artificial ones, often made from cellophane, should be removed first because 1) it’s not edible and 2) that can blunt your knife fast. Natural casings are a bit tough but will give under a sharp blade. You can eat those too.
2. Use a Mandolin
If you’re not confident with your knife skills, a mandolin is a must-have in the kitchen.
Aside from getting consistently thin slices, it’s a relatively safer tool.
It also comes with different cutters, allowing you to make juliennes, waffles, and ripple cuts, just to name a few.
Most mandolins look like a cross between a washboard and a flat grater with a stand on one end.
This comes with a finger guard which holds the food so that you can make the most of it without risking your fingers in the process.
On its side is a lever that allows you to change the type and depth of the cuts.
3. Got a Mini-Deli Cutter? Use It!
If you’ve got one at home, whether manual or electric, go ahead and use it.
These will give you thin, almost translucent slices that you usually get from the deli.
This is also the perfect cutter for 5-inch diameter summer sausages.
The problem with these is that it’s just too large and heavy.
Even the ones made for home kitchens can be a bit bulky.
But if you’re the type who likes inviting people over and serving them good food, this appliance will be an asset in your kitchen arsenal.
4. Try the Food Processor
Most food processors these days have an extra tool for cutting and slicing meat and veggies which makes it possible to slice our featured ingredient.
This attachment is a disc that has a mandolin-style blade on one side and a shredder on the other.
Just place the disc on the machine, turn it on, and then feed the sausage into the chute, using the cover to push it down.
If you don’t mind a bit of imperfection, this would work.
But if you want even sizes, go for a mandolin or an electric slicer instead.