If you’re tired of your usual cold cuts—bland turkey, boring bologna, humdrum ham—don’t fret! There’s a world of more interesting meat options that can elevate your next sandwich from standard to superb. Consider these 10 sliced meats and cheeses to beef up your sammie.
A type of Italian salami, soppressata is usually made of pork. Thinly sliced soppressata works well as a more flavorful, authentically Italian alternative to pepperoni on pizzas and sandwiches. Although some soppressata comes with the kick of hot peppers such as Chile de árbol, many other varieties are simply seasoned with black pepper and garlic.
Instead of roast beef or pastrami, try bresaola. A northern-Italian salted beef, bresaola has a deep, dark shade of red that will stand out at the deli counter. It’s made from beef legs and is often seasoned with spices and salt before being dry cured for a few months.
Capocollo, also called capicola or capicollo, is similar to bresaola, but is made of pork head and neck instead of beef. Muffulettas often include capocollo in their layers of meat and spreads, and you can stock some in your fridge with Boar’s Head's spicy capocollo.
Havarti is a semisoft Danish cheese made from cow’s milk. Similar to Swiss cheese, Havarti melts well when grilled or heated in sandwiches. Often described as buttery, the flavor of Havarti complements most sandwich meats, especially if you favor the varieties with peppers, dill, or other herbs.
5. JAMÓN IBÉRICO
Spanish for Iberian ham, Jamón Ibérico is often considered to be the highest quality ham in the world. It comes exclusively from acorn-eating black hoofed pigs in Spain and Portugal, and the meat is described as sweet and earthy. You can buy sliced Jamón Ibérico—Spain has exported it to the U.S. since 2007—but it’s very pricey. Might want to save this one for when you're looking to impress—or celebrate a promotion.
Finocchiona is a Tuscan salami flavored with fennel. Before the meat is cured, fennel seeds are added to the mix, giving the finocchiona a sweet, licorice-like taste. Other spices and ingredients such as salt, pepper, and red wine may also be added to the meat.
Cow’s milk cheeses like cheddar, provolone and American might make up the majority of deli counter options, but asking for a few slices of manchego is a good way to break out of a rut. Made with sheep’s milk, manchego is a hard, white or yellow Spanish cheese from the La Mancha region. A favorite with fruit and charcuterie platters, you can also buy it sliced for sandwich needs.
Although you may think of chorizo as only the spicy pork sausage that you have to cook before serving, sliced chorizo-inspired cold cuts are also available. The Spanish pork is mixed with smoked peppers and spices, giving it a distinctly spicy, salty, and sweet taste.
If you want to really treat yourself, choose culatello. Regarded as the best, most delicious Italian salami, culatello is pork that has been salted, massaged, put in a pig’s bladder, and aged in Italy for around a year. Because the pig’s whole leg is needed to make culatello—and prosciutto can’t be obtained from the leg as a result—this cut is quite expensive. Unlike other cold cuts, if you can get your hands on some culatello, don't store it in the refrigerator—doing so will damage its delicate flavor.
10. PROVOLONE PICCANTE
If you can't imagine your sub without some provolone, try opting for provolone piccante rather than the more common provolone dolce. Provolone piccante is aged for at least four months (longer than the two-three months that regular provolone dolce gets), and that gives it a sharper, saltier taste.
All images courtesy of iStock unless otherwise noted.