The 10 Best Meat Slicers
10. Elite Gourmet MaxiMatic
9. Cuisinart FS-75
8. Hobart Edge 13
7. Nesco FS-250
6. Hobart HS7
5. Best Choice 688
4. Chef's Choice 610
3. Berkel 825A
2. Vollrath Heavy Duty
1. Chef's Choice 615
Making The Cut: Get Yourself A Great Meat Slicer
Meat slicers make the preparation of everything from a charcuterie platter to a perfect pile of pastrami easier and more efficient than most chefs could achieve slicing meats by hand. And while top of the line, commercial meat slicers suitable for use in busy delis and restaurants can cost well over two hundred and fifty dollars, perfectly decent devices suitable for home use can be had for around fifty dollars.
Many of the more expensive units feature slicing blades with larger diameters. You can find blades as large as ten inches across in the higher price ranges, and these large units are great for slicing larger portions of meat such as a whole turkey breast or side of beef (something a home user may not even need to do). Most meat slicers have a blade measuring closer to seven inches across. A seven inch diameter blade is more than large enough for slicing rashers of bacon, cuts of sausage and salami, and for processing most lunch meats with ease. Indeed it's rare you will even need a cut larger than these units can provide, as most slicing meats come in packages sized to fit a prepackaged slice of bread.
Once you know the blade diameter needed, consider the thickness of slices you want to create. Most meat slicers can create superbly thin slices -- sometimes called "shaved meat" instead of sliced meat, in fact -- that make for excellent deli offerings or for additions to soups, salads, and more. In some cases, though, it is the opposite end of the spectrum that will interest you. Some meat slicers can cut slabs of meat measuring a hearty three quarters of an inch thick, a great size for serving chicken or turkey breast, roast beef, pork chops, and other hearty meats. Meat slicers aren't just for helping you make sandwiches, but are intended to help you make meals that both taste and look great.
The angle at which meat sits in the slicer also must be considered. A slicer allowing the meat to rest at an angle requires less effort by its user, while a slicer in which the meat sits upright means a hand always on the food and applying pressure to keep it upright.
Finally think beyond the size of the meat slices you wish to create and consider the size and design of a prospective meat slicer itself. Some meat slicers are quite large , occupying lots of counter space and less than convenient to move or for store away. Other models are more compact and sleek looking. If you have a large kitchen with lots of storage space, a slicer's size and shape don't much matter. If you have a smaller prep and cooking area, a smaller slicer might be a must.
Other Uses For Your Meat Slicer
There's nothing like a great sandwich to tantalize the tastebuds. Many of the most famous sandwiches out there are actually quite simple to make, provided you have great meats and a reliable way to slice them. In fact, two sandwiches you likely only order in restaurants take mere minutes to make at home, as long as you have a great meat slicer. Indeed it's the thinly sliced meat that makes the Reuben and the French Dip sandwiches stand out.
However, there's a good and simple reason many people choose to call meat slicers food slicers instead: these devices can be used to slice much more than just meat. In fact, there is really no better way to slice hard cheeses, many breads, and all sorts of fruits and vegetables than by using your slicer, call the device whatever you want.
Using a meat slicer to coin a single carrot will be more time consuming and labor intensive than doing so with a knife, but using your slicer to coin seven or eight carrots at the same time is simply smart. A slicer can be used to create great homemade potato chips, zucchini slices, and much more. Provided you keep your slicer's blade properly sharpened, these units can even be used to cut through softer foodstuffs such as tomatoes, eggplants, and more.
And when outfitted with the right blade (usually serrated in this case), a slicer can create perfect pieces of bread. Thus a meat slicer can help you to create an entire sandwich, from the bread to the cheese to the meat to most of the veggies.
Do keep in mind that your slicer is not a miracle worker and should not be used for all foods. For example, don't try to slice soft cheese with your slicer unless you relish the idea of spending hours cleaning cheese out of its gears and housing. Citrus fruits also tend to fall apart when cut with a powered slicer and are best tended to by hand.
On a safety note, always use a hand guard when operating the unit no matter what food you are slicing. Also consider protective cut proof gloves for good measure.
Meat Slicer Maintenance
If you want to enjoy your meat slicer for many years to come, you have to be willing to do occasional maintenance. Even the best slicer in the world can't help you make a great platter of slice salami if you let its blade get dull, you see. And then of course there is the motor and adjustment points to worry about as well.
Starting with the motor -- as a slicer is nothing but a large paperweight without it -- only occasional maintenance should be needed, but the upkeep of a motor that spins so close to your foods means a bit more care than you might use with the machinery of some other device.
Many meat slicers have fully sealed motors that require no lubrication. If yours does need occasional oiling, it's imperative that you choose a food grade lubricant rated safe for "incidental food contact." These are often called white grease oils and can be found online or at good restaurant supply stores. These same lubricants should be used on the guide arm or tightening knobs as needed. (In other words, don't use WD-40.)
As for keeping the blade sharp, you can either turn it over to a professional, or you can purchase a sharpening stone and take the time to learn how to use it.