Here’s another take on the idea—in chip form: a spread of toothsome meats. Chips being a finger food, there’s no need for crackers or bread, making this spread a paleo-perfect nosh. Here’s how to set it up. Prepare three or more kinds of chips to fan across a cutting board or platter. For contrast, include un-chipped versions of some sausages. Drop in a few other nibbles—goat cheese, pickles, radishes—and set off the spread with the perfect condiment, Pickled Mustard Seeds.
Just about any firm meat or sausage can be made into chips. At the deli counter, choose dense ham, beef, or turkey that’s been pressed to hold together when sliced. Corned beef and pastrami may be too loose and stringy when cut to work as chips. You should also avoid soft and creamy sausages like bologna or liverwurst. Tell the deli person you want very thin slices—about 1/16 inch thick if you can specify—but not shaved so thin that the slices fall apart.
You’ll find lots of choices in the packaged deli meats section too. Just be wary of anything described as shaved—make sure the meat isn’t too thin. Whole, firm sausages are great options. Slice the fat ones like salami in rounds and the thinner ones like pepperoni in elongated diagonals.
Meats for Chips
Smoked and honey-cured ham
Salami—cotto, genoa, and hard
Prep Time: 5 minutes | Baking Time: 20 minutes | Makes about 4 servings
8 ounces of thinly sliced deli meat, cured meat, or dry sausage
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, with racks positioned in the upper and lower thirds.
2. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
3. If your meat isn’t pre-sliced, use your sharpest knife to cut thin and even slices that are not more than 1/16 inch thick. You may want to divide large slices into smaller pieces. Keep in mind that some meats shrink more than others in the oven, so you may need to experiment.
4. Fill the baking sheets with slices, arranging the meat in single layers. Set aside the remaining slices for the next batch.
5. Bake the slices for about 5 minutes, then check their progress. Flip the chips and turn the baking sheets, sending them back to opposite racks in the oven.
6. Continue baking until the chips are dry and crisp. In most cases, the chips should be ready in another 5 to 10 minutes, but some meats and thicker slices may take longer. Keep a close watch on the chips.
7. They’re done when they begin to curl and brown slightly around the edges.
Note: Some meats tend to curl a lot. If that’s the case for you, then flip and flatten the slices every 2 or 3 minutes.
8. Transfer the chips to a paper towel-lined baking sheet or wire cooling rack. Note that meat chips, especially those made from sausage, will get crisper after 5 or 10 minutes out of the oven.
9. Allow the chips to cool completely before sealing them in an airtight container. They can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week. To re-fresh and re-crisp cold or softened chips, warm them in a 300°F oven for about 5 minutes.
Embracing the Meat Chip
Once they’re baked and dried into chips, meat and sausages become flavor bombs! Serve them alongside sandwiches, soups, and salads, or as the unique ingredient in recipes. Here are some ideas to springboard your own brilliant combinations.
Salami chips spread across a platter, dotted with crumbled feta cheese, sprinkled with pickled red onions, and topped with fresh basil
Smoked turkey-breast chips plated in a single layer, topped with diced tomato, avocado, and radish sprouts—lightly drizzled with honey-mustard dressing
Roast beef chips dotted with horseradish cream, baby arugula, and pickled red onions
Pepperoni chips in a hearty romaine, cucumber, onion, and tomato salad— tossed with tart and garlicky vinaigrette
Smoked-salmon chips tucked into cucumber-cream cheese sandwiches
Capocolla chips tossed with roasted asparagus, sprinkled with freshly squeezed lemon
Hickory-smoked ham chips piled beside split-pea soup for dipping and dunking
Country ham chips banking an iceberg wedge salad, everything drizzled with chunky blue cheese dressing
Recipe reprinted with permission from Lark, an Imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Copyright 2014.