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Is there a way to get deli-thin slices of roast beef without a slicing machine?

There are a few cheaper cuts of beef that are too tough for ordinary roast beef but if sliced thinly enough, across the grain, make good sandwiches. Without a deli slicer, however, that's a tall order. I'm wondering if the slicing blade of a food processor would work, or a mandoline, if the cooked meat were refrigerated or semi-frozen. Does anyone know any tricks, or is the only option a really good knife and a lot of patience?

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  1. Pretty sure a food processor or mandoline isn't going to work.
    The only time I've frozen meat to slice thin is when its uncooked with a knife.
    Not sure what freezing a cooked piece of beef would be taste like, but you could slice it thin with a knife.

    If I want deli thin sliced roast beef I just buy the Costco stuff.

    1. I slice mine very thin with an electric knife.
      It is time consuming & you have to pay attention to what you're doing.
      I just put on some nice music & go.

      1. A poor man's slicer I once saw in action was three pieces of wood (maple I think) bottom and two sides, onto which a roast was deposited. It fit snugly between the two vertical sides as it rested on the bottom. The meat was allowed to extend past the ends of the vertical elements just enough to permit a VERY sharp knife to be passed through it while the knife blade rested against the ends of the wood pieces. Seemed to work OK; in a primitive way. But a mandolin would not work and trying to make those very thin cuts free hand would drive me nuts.

        1. You should be able to get extremely thin slices of meat with a sharp carving knife, some elbow grease, and patience. My husband always slices london broil and other tougher cuts of meat super, super thin - almost too thin for my preferences - and certainly thin enough for deli slices. We use either the "slicing" or carving knife the came in our Henckles block set.

          1. Practice, practice, practice...................

            1. if you're a regular at a meat market, your butcher will likely do it for you.

              i got some thin slices of corned beef (a corned round, not a brisket) using my mandoline. not transluscent, but about 1/8 in.

              if trying it free hand, i'd wear my kevlar fillet glove.

              1. Given that an actual home-use meat slicer is cheaper than many mandollines, and roughly the same price as a food processor (neither of which would work for this), why wouldn't you just buy a meat slicer?

                3 Replies
                1. re: bnemes3343

                  Even if my cupboards and other storage space weren't already jam-packed, I can't justify the expense for another piece of equipment that I'd use only infrequently.

                  1. re: greygarious

                    Then sell the Mandolin on Ebay and replace it with a slicer. My impression was that this was something you liked to do frequently. I too would not make space for a large slicer if I weren't going to use it much. Get your knives really sharp and slice them by hand.

                  2. re: bnemes3343

                    Because the home slicers do not slice as paper thin as the professional ones. If you're lucky you can find a used pro one, the smaller size not full size, for $500; I should sell the two I have and get one of those, because I do love shaved meat. The two I have cost around $300 each, first off they are so little you have to do small pieces at a time, never a whole roast, and second I can get it thinner myself with a filet knife. Not recommended for cold cuts.

                  3. Assuming you are talking about slicing a roast you already cooked yourself... I think the best way is to let it cool down, almost completely and use a crazy sharp knife. its is warm, it will have a tendency to shred if you are trying for paper thin.

                    I wouldn't go near a mandoline unless you dont care for your skin or fingers.

                    1. Ahh a question for the ages. I always cook extra tri-tip for just the same reason. I have found that if the meat is very cold, it is easier to slice. I use either a very sharp 8inch filet knife or 10 inch scalloped slicer. I would not freeze it, but you need to work fast, and get it cold. Your hand will start to warm it up.

                      Be careful.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                        I use a long and sharp bladed knife on well rested meat .I secure the meat with a carving fork (on a board )and start with short cuts until I get the feel .Most times paper thin

                      2. Let roast stand for about 30 minutes covered loosely with foil. Then wrap the roast in foil and place in freezer for about 45 minutes. Then remove and slice on a mandoline. Virtually looks like roasts cut on a deli slicer. You can buy a cheap mandoline on the Net that will have adjustable slicer thickness for about 25 or 30 dollars. The Zyliss adjustable is very good.

                        1. Without a deli slicer you better have a very sharp knife.

                          I sliced this pastrami with a 270mm Japanese sujihiki which is the Japanese equivalent to the western slicer. The extra length is important so you will not be sawing at the meat.

                          1. I'll agree with those who suggest chilled meat, sharp slicing knife, and practice. Anyone can learn to do it, but I suppose it might take a certain kind of obsessive personality to have the inclination to do it.

                            1. Hi- I called the deli department of my supermarket and asked if I purchased a roast there and cooked it at home if they would slice it. They said "Sure, just bring the receipt."

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: Valmont1969

                                That's cool, they must like you! I would expect them to say no, since if you didn't cook or handle the meat correctly they could end up with salmonella or something all over the slicer.

                                1. re: coll

                                  Pretty sure the slicer is broken down and cleaned after use

                                  1. re: scubadoo97

                                    At the end of the night, not after slicing each individual item. Around here, they will separate cheese and meat onto different slicers, but that's as sanitary as it gets during working hours.

                                    1. re: coll

                                      I believe the slicer is also wiped down with bleach water after each individual item. At least that's what we did at our sandwich shop and we didn't even have raw items. At the end of the night, it's disassembled and thoroughly washed and soaked.

                                      1. re: soypower

                                        Sorry to say, but not where I worked. We were way too busy anyway, I can't imagine us stopping after each individual sandwich to wipe it down, and especially with bleach which would surely affect the flavor of the next sandwich (most places I know use vinegar as disinfectant, bleach isn't real popular for many reasons and the bigger places actually forbid it). We mostly sliced cold cuts, but we also did the lettuce and tomato first thing in the AM on there too. Luckily I don't remember any major health issues while I worked there. Then again this was the days before latex gloves and all that jazz.

                                        1. re: coll

                                          I guess bleach water is a little inaccurate...Sanitizing solution made from 2 gallons of water and a capful of bleach. The same stuff we use to wipe down the tables between customers. Now that I think about it (we sold the shop about 10 years ago), it was only after every sandwich, but we had pretty high volume, so that was a lot of wiping. Also, we had a lot of vegetarians and I'm pretty sure they would have been skeeved if we sliced their cheese without wiping off meat residue.

                                          1. re: soypower

                                            Yeah we had kosher to deal with occasionally, so two meat slicers and one only for cheese. I vaguely remember wiping off the scraps under the blade when it slowed down, we weren't fanatic but we were OK I guess. I only remember because I saved the scraps to take home to my crazy cats.

                                2. re: Valmont1969

                                  where I live this used to be possible with any meat you purchased at the store. Then the local Health Dept. outlawed the practice. It doesnt matter if it's a supermarket chain or a high end independent meat market. I would be sure to ask the store in your town. It would be different from county to county and state to state.

                                3. greygarious, what did you end up doing??? I know the OP was 2009 but just curious.

                                  I have a solidly frozen chunk of chuck that I want to slice thinly for beef bulgogi......I was contemplating the mandolin (have done before with OK results) again but it is cautioned against by many people...

                                  I am happy to do it with a sharp knife but my slicer is a ceramic and I don't know if it's sharp enough...

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: xiaobao12

                                    I was unable to get deli-thin results. So I use a knife at an angle, which made it easier to do thin slices. Then I cut the slices into small strips so when a piece pulls out of the sandwish you are eating, it is the right size for a bite.

                                  2. We use a meat slicer, a home version of what the groceries and delis use. I went and looked up what model we have. Sirman Eurodib, the labels said. So I googled that. The closest thing to what we have that I could find, cost over seven thousand dollars and weighed 140 lbs.. Obviously, not the model we have. We bought our meat slicer at a little restaurant supply place that has since closed. If you eat a lot of sliced deli style meat, you should buy yourself a slicer. If deli meat is a sometime thing for you, let the grocery/deli do it for you.