Monday, January 25, 2010

Any Way You Slice It - Meat Slicers

One of the luxuries I have is a meat slicer that my parents gave me for Christmas a few years ago.

While my favorite "meat slicer" is my carving knife, it's hard to beat an electric meat slicer for making thin sliced lunch meat. I thought I would share a few of the tips for using meat slicers that I have picked up over the last few years of using mine.

FIRST AND FOREMOST: There is no substitute for reading, understanding, and following the instructions provided in the user manual for your specific meat slicer.

TIP: Cold meat or cheese slices easier and more evenly.
I roasted an eye of beef round on the Big Green Egg (grill) this weekend, wrapped it in foil and stuck it in the fridge for a day. (It was cooked by searing over direct heat at 500f for 1-2 minutes a side and then roasted indirect heat at 350f until it hit an internal temp of 140f. Normally I'd have pulled it 5 degrees earlier and let it rest but since it was going straight into the fridge.) Here it is after searing and about to go on for the roasting. It's on a raised rack over 2 cups of beef broth and 1 cup of red wine to collect the au jus.

TIP: Start your slicing with a flat even surface.
Roasts are not uniform in shape but you need to have a stable surface to start slicing. To do this, I slice them in half across the grain like this and then put the flat side against the back of the meat slicer.

TIP: Wipe your slicer surfaces down with vegetable oil BEFORE slicing.
This makes sliding your meat/cheese while slicing much easier but more importantly, it makes clean up afterward much easier.

TIP: It's Hip To Be Square
To get even slices, you have to hold the meat still with even pressure on THREE sides so it has no where to go except into the blade. In this picture, the meat is pressed between the back plate and the plastic safety guard but notice the gap on the left side against the push plate.

This will result in the meat sliding left and right as you try to slice it. Instead get it snug against all three like in the picture below. Notice it can't go right, it can't go left, and it can't go back. The only place it can go is into the slicer blade.

TIP: Work quickly but purposely.
Sliced meat dries out quickly, so be ready to package it as soon as possible after slicing. During slicing, I just keep covering the meat in layers so none of it is exposed to air too long.

TIP: Debris
If you want a good New Orleans treat AND you totally trust the sanitation job you did on your slicer the last time, use all of the "debris" from the slicer and make the NOLA classic, Roast Beef Po' Boy with Debris Gravy. Who dat!?!?!

SAFETY TIPS:
  1. Always and I mean always use the safety guard(s). Never bare hand it. There are no such thing as small cuts on a meat slicer.
  2. Always turn off the slicer when reaching in to clear stock from the cutting area.
  3. Always UNPLUG the slicer when cleaning it. Whatever you do, RESIST the temptation to hold a cleaning rag on the side of a spinning blade. I worked in the safety/workers comp department in a grocery store chain....doing this "short cut" never ends well, eventually.
  4. Always return the cutting thickness to "zero" or neutral when wiping the slicer down. Even when powered off, you can jack your hand up by bumping into the blade.
If you follow the manufacturer's manual and these tips, you should have a nice batch of thin sliced meat like this AND all of your fingers still attached.

Oh yeah, never use the meat slicer in the bath tub. It's not in my owner manual, but I'm just sayin'.

Tomorrow for lunch? Roast beef & smoked swiss paninis with au jus for dipping. What are your favorite dishes using thin sliced roast beef?

25 comments:

  1. I've wanted one of these ever since I saw the Seinfeld episode.

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  2. This is so cool! I never thought about slicing meat at home with a meat slicer. Sure beats waiting in line at the deli! My mind is now reeling with all kinds of possibilities. The thin sliced roast beef looks great and your panini idea sounds delicious. When I think of thinly sliced roast beef I always think of open-face roast beef sandwiches with the brown gravy and mashed potatoes. Guess I'm old school.

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  3. Add to Chris and his good advice- don't buy a cheap plastic framed one- I did, and they are not good! Favorite sliced roast beef sandwich? French Dip!

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  4. Very good post Chris. Now I just need to win a meat slicer!

    you are so right about the debris sammie. Ya'll do biscuits and gravy here...in N.O. (Lou-brees-e-anna), you won't find them on the menu, but at Mother's you can get Biscuits and Debris Gravy. Now that's something!

    Who Dat!

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  5. Whoa. I'd love to have one but I bet they're expensive. They should make a smaller version.

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  6. Oh man oh man you just gave me an idea for my birthday present from mom in law! I am going for the fancy ceramic pots from this years gift certificates...can you tell me where I should send her for this? Seriously...

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  7. Pam: No you can't use my slicer to trim your shoe heal!

    Kim: Open faced roast beef sandwich with gravy, one of my favorites from McAllisters!

    BD: And I DID save a cup or two of au jus just for that.

    Katherine: debris gravy and biscuits sounds so good!

    Dr. Zibbs: It's not really as big as it looks. That blade is only 7.5 inches. This isn't a full sized deli slicer. The only one smaller that I've seen is those plastic ones that aren't very good.

    Chef E: Amazon has them for under $100 but I'd strongly recommend taking a look at the Chef's Choice 610 model. Similar price and much easier to clean.

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  8. Tasty post! Roast beef is my favorite deli choice and I'm certain yours is top drawer. I like Philly Cheesesteaks and French Dips, but my favorite is a good old deli sandwich on a hard roll with horseradish mayo, lettuce or sprouts, onion & tomato. Made my mouth water just typing that!

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  9. Lol, got exactly the same slicer...

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  10. Wow - you are ready to set up your own eatery. What gadgets do you still need that you don't have?

    When I read your line "who dat" it reminded me of seeing Steven Segall: Law Man. But I'm sure with your martial arts training you could kick his ass and then serve and excellently sliced deli sandwich.

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  11. I have always wanted a meat slicer. I can think of a thousand ways I would use one just about everyday. The minute I get a bigger kitchen, I'm picking up one of these bad boys :)

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  12. Vickie: Horseradish & roast beef, a match made in heaven.

    Rolf: It's a pain in the rear to clean though, isn't it?

    LOTW: I don't know, did you see the episode with his shooting? Dude can handle a gun.

    Dave: Did you have one when you were there?

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  13. Wow - that's one mean looking machine! If I had a few more digits I might be willing to get myself one and give it a go...but given my history with the lowly knife, I'm sure I'd end up with paws if I had a REAL meat slicer...I'll just leave them to the professionals - like you. xo, Nan

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  14. I would love that thing!!!!!That roast beef looks incredible.

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  15. I've always wanted a meat slicer. They are so cool. Wish I had the space in the pantry.
    Sam

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  16. Good Grief, you'll put an eye out with that thing! All kidding aside, that's very cool that you have one of those. I've actually never known anyone who had one of those. Well, as suspected, you have fallen victim in my failed RSS feeds. I'm missing alot of folks posts! You didn't just upgrade to Windows 7 did you? I'm trying to figure this all out. I'm receiving some and some are not working. Anyway, I've got some Green Egg reading to catch up on.

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  17. "There are no such thing as small cuts on a meat slice" Amen. Great tips!

    I second the recommendation on the 610. I've got one and love it.

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  18. Yum! Eye round is my favorite cut for roast beef - love how lean it is as long as there is a nice top layer of fat while cooking.

    I've seen the meat slicers at Sam's Club, have wanted one for a long time! Deli meats are just so yucky! One of these days I'm going to get one.

    My favorite for this cut of meat is thin sliced on toasted "everything" bagels - with or without some condiments and/or various toppings.

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  19. Nice.... I can think of a lot of uses for a spiffy slicer like this. Unfortunately, I can't think of so many places to put one in my kitchen ;\

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  20. Yeah, using it in the bathtub is a bad idea. I think I want a meat slicer for Christmas this year.

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  21. Hi Chris,
    I'm not quite sure how I "landed" here which means, I'm probably not a candidate for a meat slicer; tonight anyway. Boy oh boy that sure is one heck of a slicer!!! It may be one of the few times that I would consider a meat slicer a star to a beauty of a roast. And, that roast sure is a thing of beauty.

    Let's see, while I'm here, I may as well tell you my favorite thin sliced roast beef indulgence is...drum roll...A Manhattan Special. Thinly sliced roast beef, melted mozzarella and horseradish lavishly slathered on garlic bread, dashed under the broiler and smothered in au jus.

    Thanks for the GREAT tips!

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  22. Nice slicer, way more wow than I have in my kitchen. Now I (of course) want one. GREG

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  23. ooooh....this is awesome!! some friends of ours gave us a meat slicer cuz they don't use it. I haven't either yet...but now I know SOMEthing at least

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