How to Hand-Cut Salami Like a Pro

If you can’t get your hand on a meat slicer, these expert tips are the next best thing

By Megan Falk

Published on December 18, 2019

In a perfect world, every salumi board you style would include paper-thin slivers fresh off your personal Berkel meat slicer. But if you’re not ready to shell out five grand for one, these experts have a few ideas on how to hand-cut salumi like a pro:

Pick the right knife: Rob Levitt of Publican ­Quality Meats prefers at least an 8-inch blade for a smooth, more stable stroke. For dry sausages, Theo Weening, the VP of meat and poultry at Whole Foods, opts for a Japanese-style knife with a single beveled edge. But any long thin knife, like the one above, will do. At the end of the day, Max Rosenberg of Despaña says, “As long as it’s sharp, you’ll do the meat justice.”

Steady your board: ­Levitt places a damp tea towel on the cutting board to prevent fatty meats from sliding and to ensure straight, uniform cuts.

Moderate temperature: Tess McNamara of Eataly and Despaña’s Rosenberg agree: Proper temperature of the meat is key for getting consistently thin cuts; aim for an even 50°F.

The smaller the meat, the easier the slice: For hand-slicing, Herb Eckhouse of La Quercia Cured Meats and Chris Eley of Smoking Goose stick with firm, lean cuts that have small diameters. (Think coppas and bresaolas, rather than whole Parma hams.)

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