The Key To Making Deli-Worthy Sandwiches At Home

Crafting sandwiches can be fun, satisfying, and easy — pretty much anyone can master it, and once you do, you have complete control over your final product. Mike Varney, sandwich line manager at the iconic Zingerman's Deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan, gave Mashed some invaluable tips for making the perfect deli-style sandwich at home: Invest in sharp knives, and adjust your meat's cooking time depending on how thick a cut you prefer.

While an industrial-grade deli slicer is a luxury most consumers lack, a sharp knife can be your faithful ally for slicing meats to your desired thickness. Hard meats like salami, coppa, bresaola, and prosciutto can be thinly and precisely cut if your kitchen knife skills are up to par. "Even the hardest salamis can be thinly sliced with a sharp knife," Varney advised. As for cheese, he clarified that "for a nice, even slice, a wire cutter would work best."

To start your homemade deli adventure, consider some popular menu items. A hearty Reuben, brimming with corned beef or pastrami, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing, is always a crowd-pleaser. For a taste of Italy, a muffuletta with cured meats, cheeses, and olive salad on a round loaf spattered with sesame seeds is a solid choice. Turkey, ham, and roast beef club sandwiches with crispy bacon, fresh veggies, and zippy mayo are also timeless go-tos.

Cook your sandwich meat longer if you like thicker cuts

Where sandwich meat is concerned, some people prefer thicker cuts while others like their meat sliced thin. Even so, Varney explained, "Preference aside, it's about how tender and easy the meat is to chew." To achieve your desired texture, he advised, "Cooking [meats] for longer so that they are more soft and tender would allow for thick slices that are still palatable. You're looking for tenderness in the meat, and a shorter cook time will produce a less-tender brisket requiring a thinner slice."

As for ingredients, quality is paramount. Seek out the best cuts of meat, and ensure they're well-seasoned and cooked to perfection. Then, gather a variety of fresh, crisp vegetables and creamy condiments for the finishing touches that elevate your sandwich to deli status. The type of sandwich bread you choose matters, so opt for a chewy, crusty bread like rye, sourdough, ciabatta, or a French baguette.

Feel free to experiment with various meats, bread types, condiments, and fillings. By selecting top-tier ingredients and conducting plenty of hands-on, primary research with an assortment of recipes, you'll continually savor the true essence of an old-school deli experience — just take it from sandwich pro Mike Varney.