Thinly sliced meats and cheeses can make winning sandwiches, and delis and meat counters often slice meat to order or sell packages of precut thinly sliced meat. Delis use industrial meat cutters that are too big and expensive to keep in most home kitchens, but result in a much thinner slice than you can easily achieve with a knife. Deli slices are convenient and they save you the work of cutting meat yourself.
The majority of sliced deli meats come from sausage and cured meats, such as salami, pancetta and soppressata. These meats are usually cured using salt, spices, garlic, fennel and other seasonings. This curing process increases shelf life and also adds flavor. Sausage-style meats work especially well as deli slices because the flavor amplification from the curing process creates a meat that is strong enough to hold its own even in thin slices and combined with other meats, cheese and condiments in a sandwich.
Some meats, such as roast beef and corned beef, are simply cut into deli slices without being cured or processed. These meats are usually minimally seasoned during the cooking process, often with salt, sugar or spices. Because these deli slices contain mostly flesh and are not bulked up with offal parts, they tend to cost more than other types of deli slices. However, they're also typically a little lighter on the salt, and might not include preservatives depending on where your deli sources its meat.
Deli Sliced Cheeses
Cheese complements meat on sandwiches, so delis and supermarkets also typically sell sliced deli cheese. American cheese is processed cheese sold as deli slices, but many other cheeses are also available as deli slices, either in packages or as whole loaves that can be cut to order. Swiss, cheddar and provolone are especially popular on sandwiches and therefore commonly available as deli slices.
Prepackaged slices are convenient for customers who don't want to wait while their meat is sliced to order, and they have the added bonus of longer shelf life due to commercially sealed packaging. However, prepackaged deli slices can be dryer and less fresh than deli slices that are cut to order. They have plenty of surface area to dry out, and they typically sit in their packages for weeks or even months as they are stored in warehouses and retail stores.
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