Sunday, March 16, 2014

Making Lunch Meat

Buying lunch meat can be expensive.  Not to mention all the 'extra' ingredients it has other than meat and spices.  The sodium solutions, the nitrates and nitrites, the long multi-syllable words that you can't pronounce. . .

At this little place here, we rarely buy meats from the deli (or deli section of the store) to make sandwiches out of.  Instead, I have learned a few alternative ways to get my lunch meats.

One way, and the first way I did it, was to buy a large hunk of precooked and seasoned meat at a store such as Gordon Food Services.  A 5-pound smoked turkey breast, or a 6-pound boneless smoked Virginia ham, which I then took home and sliced as thinly as I could with my electric knife.  Put into quart-sized freezer bags holding approximately a pound each, I could put one bag in the fridge, and the rest in the freezer to take out as needed.  This cut the cost per pound of lunch meat roughly in half compared to buying it all ready sliced.

I did this for several years, one of which DH bought me a small electric meat slicer to make my cutting easier and more uniform.

Then we tried raising turkeys for the first time, and I suddenly had skinless boneless turkey breasts for the cooking.  I discovered that I could roast them pretty much the same way I do a whole turkey (melted butter, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and rubbed sage) in my oven, and then slice them with the meat slicer.  This made turkey lunch meat even cheaper!

Soon I started to experiment with homegrown hams, chicken breasts, and beef roasts in addition to the turkey breasts.  I couldn't smoke them, but I could marinate, brine, or season them, roast them in the oven, then slice and package just like the precooked ones I'd been buying at Gordon's.

One of these days DH will get around to building the smoker he's been talking about (and intermittently designing) for about five years now.  Then I will try my hand at making smoked lunch meats.

An easy way to get started in saving money on lunch meat if you don't have a meat slicer (mine was pretty cheap, about $30 I believe) or an electric knife, is to buy spiral sliced hams on sale and then just use a regular steak knife to cut the slices from where they are attached to the bone.  Then you can save the bone for other things, like making split pea soup or bean soup.

Lunch meat.  Another one of those things that you can learn to make, and make for cheaper than buying it all ready made for you.

the slicer

hold the roast in front of the blade. . . 

. . . and lunch meat comes out the back!

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