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Jan 27, 2009 01:50 PM

Looking to make my own homemade lunchmeat.

Hello all. I am currentoly on the quest to learning how to perfect and make my own lunchmeat-- such as Chicken Breast, Turkey Breast, Ham/Pastrami.

I would have to travel pretty far in order to get quality meat such as Boar's Head, and the prices of the stuff at Whole Foods are out of my price range-- so I simply MUST create my own.

My question to you all is.. what is this process of making meat this way? Is it called Charcuterie or would it be under somethihg else? Any book/website recommendations are much needed and appreciated.

Thanks alot guys.

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  1. I'm not sure why one would recreate pre-packaged meat---why not just roast turkey and slice it?

    But if what you are thinking of is stuff like salami, bologna etc, I'd take a look at Ruhlman's Charcuterie book. In my house, pate makes a fine sandwich stuffing and duck proscuito is rarely turned down.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jenn

      Charcuterie is fantastic. I have many things from the book and plan many more.

    2. Well, you can buy a whole raw turkey breast, roast it, let it cool, then slice it--and there's your high-quality turkey breast. It's actually much better than pressed, processed turkey breast, since it won't have the extra salt, water, and chemicals added to it. Same with chicken breast. Ham, same thing--buy a ham, cook it at home, let cool and slice as needed. As for making your own charcuterie/salumi, like salami and bologna, you'd need a good charcuterie book--check in the library or take a look at Paul Bertolli's Cooking by Hand for starters.

      1 Reply
      1. re: dixieday2

        Couldn't agree more, nothing beats the real thing. Without all the added water it will also freeze well. Commercial slicers can be had for a few hundred dollars if slicing is a problem.

      2. Here are links to Ruhlman's recipes for pastrami and dry-cured ham:

        I've had success with his recipe for peameal bacon (which makes a heck of a sandwich), although I like this recipe better:

        I've never tried making my own smoked sandwich meats, since until last week I didn't have a smoker, but the process seems to be similar for most whole meat charcuterie-type endeavors (as opposed to the sausagey salumi-type ones, which involve grinding and mixing and curing and drying etc.). Brine the meat in a combination of salt, water, possibly a bit of pink curing salt, and whatever other flavourings you want to throw in there. Then smoke it, slice it and eat it. Or, if you don't have a smoker, roast it or slice and pan fry it (as is done with the peameal bacon).

        I'd just start experimenting and see what happens. Maybe base your brine concentration and timing on one of the other recipes and change the seasonings to fit your meat. I'd go for it and see what happens. I'm no expert, but have had good luck with the few things I have tried. As a matter of fact, you and my new smoker (discovered hidden in my new basement after a move!) have inspired me to give sandwich meat a try myself. Let us know if you try anything and how it turns out!

        1 Reply
        1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

          I second this. Brining the meat in sugar and salt water with spices before cooking is the key, IMHO, to getting it to taste like roasted deli meat. I'd cook low and slow wrapped or covered in foil (have done this with pork loin and turkey and both turned out great! CI's recipe for basic roast beef is also good.

        2. What I do with the leftover bits that we are tired of (esp with large hams, roast beef, etc.) is turn them into a spread. I've also done this with a salmon that was cooked for an office party and nobody wanted the other side of the fish.

          Food processor with metal blade: insert coarsely chopped meat, add some cream cheese or butter. Process. Store until you are hungry for that kind of meat again. (I've even frozen it although it messes a bit with really smooth textures.)

          1. A friend of mine recently made turkey breast lunchmeat out of a whole turkey breast. The process, as he related it to me, went like this:

            Bone the entire breast and then butterfly each side, but leave the skin connected. Spread the inside (i.e., not the skin side) generously with a mix of butter, salt, pepper, and fresh herbs. Roll very tightly with the skin side out and wrap in one layer of cheesecloth, then roast until cooked through. Chill completely, then unwrap and slice very thinly with a sharp knife.