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Cold cuts is a North American term that refers to cheeses or precooked or cured meat, often sausages or meat loaves, that are sliced and usually served cold on sandwiches or on party trays. Cold cuts also may be known as lunch meats, luncheon meats, sandwich meats, cooked meats, sliced meats, cold meats and deli meats. They can be bought pre-sliced in vacuum packs at a supermarket or grocery store, or they can be purchased at a delicatessen or deli counter, where they might be sliced to order.
How to select
There's tremendous variance in the types of cold cuts you'll find. In supermarkets, you can purchase pre-sliced deli meats, and the usual choices are ham, turkey, roast beef, salami, bologna, and occasionally mortadella. Pre-packaged luncheon meats can offer many different taste varieties. Instead of just ham, you might buy honey ham or turkey ham. Many prefer to purchase cold cuts straight from a deli, and you'll probably get more variety and lower fat choices when you do so. Further, most pre-packaged meats are going to have the highest fat content, and often the greatest amount of sodium. A recent trend in preparing meats like turkey, roast beef, and ham is to feature low nitrate and low sodium fresh baked varieties, instead of meat loaves that are packed with extra chemicals.
" They're a principal ingredient in numerous sandwiches, and may also form part of a tray for antipasto. They also make their way into salads like chef salad, and a variety of other dishes.
" They are served as a bologna, salami, turkey or ham sandwich composed of thinly sliced meats
" A few popular cold cuts are pepperoni, capicola, coppa, pastrami, headcheese. Liverwurst, etc.
How to store
Cold cuts lose their freshness quickly once sliced, so it's best to keep them for only three to five days; packaged meats also last that long after they've been opened. To prevent spoilage, store both in resealable plastic bags or airtight plastic containers and keep them in the refrigerator's meat drawer or toward the back, where it's usually coldest.
" Most pre-sliced cold cuts are higher in fat and sodium than those that are sliced to order. In addition to being lower in sodium and fat, cold cuts from the deli counter often offer much more in the way of taste variety and flavoring.
" Further, when you purchase cold cuts that have fewer or no chemicals added, they're often fairly low in fat, and reasonably good, healthy choices for meals.
" People, especially pregnant women and moms of young children, should be aware that pre-sliced cold cuts mayharbor a very nasty bacteria called listeria. Though most healthy adults withstand a listeria infection, many doctors recommend that pregnant women and young children not eat luncheon meats unless they are fully heated. So if you can't do without your pastrami sandwich, consider grilling the meat first to avoid this potential danger.