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Posts Tagged ‘Deli meat’

Volpi Prosciutto Review


Volpi Prosciutto Review I’ve looked at a lot of deli meats lately and written them up – the quality and prices cover the full spectrum.  Not surprisingly, I tend to prefer the more expensive meats, the low cost ones have a texture I find unpalatable.  But that’s just me. The smaller manufacturers seemed to have not lost their way on how to make a great product, and you can pretty much pass on anything by Hormel, Sara Lee, or Wal Mart’s house brand.

Prosciutto is defined as a dry-cured ham that is usually thinly sliced and served uncooked; this style is called prosciutto crudo in Italian and is distinguished from smoked ham, prosciutto affumicato.  And I love it.  And it’s “cousin” across the continent, Spain’s Jamon Serrrano.

Volpi Foods, in the “Hill” neighborhood (an area settled by Italian immigrants)  of St. Louis, (factory pictures below) started in 1902 by a Milanese immigrant who had learned curing meats from relatives in Italy. The tradition has continued, and the family owned business now makes a variety of Italian meats that you can buy at your grocer or direct, online.

Prosciutto adds a smoky, salty flavor when incorporated in dishes, but it’s often served ‘as is’ as a starter;  you may have seen it in restaurants offered as wrapped around a slice of melon.

Any way you choose to consume it, prosciutto is a delightful pork product, and I find Volpi’s version a really excellent choice.  It has a buttery, melt in your mouth quality. Not sure of the full retail price, it was on sale at my local grocer for about $8 a pound, and that’s a bargain.

If you’re in St. Louis, visit the neighborhood called “the Hill,” where there are lots of great shops and restaurants serving old world classics.

Volpi Prosciutto Review

Volpi Prosciutto Review

      Volpi St Lois Factory








Volpi Prosciutto Review


Prima Della Pastrami Review (Wal Mart’s House Brand)


Prima Della Pastrami ReviewI’ve looked at several pastrami (and corned beef) brands recently, including the grocery store version of NYC’s  Carnegie Deli, Vienna Beef, from Chicago, and Dietz & Watson.

Today I picked up a pound of “Prima Della,” ($9.99) which is the Wal Mart deli counter’s in-house brand.

According to the USDA plant number on the package, the pastrami is manufactured by Best Provision, LLC, out of Newark, New Jersey.  According to their website, Best is a family owned and operated concern, more than six decades old, and they focus on private label manufacturing of cooked beef products.  For most of their products, they offer a choice of three different grades, “Certified Angus,” “USDA choice,”  and “ungraded.”

No idea which ilk of meat Wal Mart chooses for their selections.

Wal Mart deli meats are priced at 15-25% less than the ‘national brands,” and for some deli counter products, this might be OK.

While the Prima Della pastrami looks and smells like a quality product,  it’s one of those prepared meat products which really falls down on texture or “chewability.”  So many deli meats (and roasts, chickens, and pork roasts) today have that same texture, and it’s really started to bug me.  I have no idea what happens in the manufacturing process to cause this malady, but I suspect it has to do with that phrase one often sees emblazoned on packages (“injected with a XX% solution of XXXX”), which I generally believe is used to soften (and/or flavor) meat muscle and is most like a salt-derivative product, but it’s also a way for manufacturers to add 10% or more weight to their product at little or no cost.

I don’t like it.  In an effort to please the masses, food manufacturers are making products as  ‘palatable’  (and tender) as possible.  Hence, these products no longer taste or chew like animal flesh.  Think of brine injected meats as the Fox News of the meat manufacturing world.

For my money, I’ll keep spending the extra 20% or so to get whole muscle, no additive, deli meats.  While they are still being made.

Best Provisions LLC is located on Avon Avenue, right behind Millie’s Restaurant, which offers Spanish cuisine from 6 AM seven days a week, and free delivery, if you happen to be in the neighborhood.

Prima Della Pastrami Review

Best Provision Factory

Prima Della Pastrami Review

Aerial, Best Provision Factory

Prima Della Pastrami Review


Applegate Naturals Uncured Genoa Salami Review


I’m not sure how many consumers even know what the word “uncured” means when they see it on processed meat packages, like deli meats, hot dogs, ham and bacon.   I am also not sure where there is an “official” government definition, but I personally take it to mean free of the preservatives generally found in such products, like sodium nitrites and nitrates.

Often, in my reading, I have seen references to these types of meats being ‘cured’ by celery juice or celery juice powder, substances which contain nitrates naturally.  Uncured meats must be kept refrigerated or they will spoil.

Applegate Farms makes a living selling uncured, natural, and organic meat products from a variety of protein sources. They say they source their meat from sources that raise animals humanely and do not use antibiotics.

In addition to the products mentioned in the first sentence, Applegate Farms also markets poultry products, including chicken sausages and turkey “burgers.”  They are based in New Jersey and have been around 25 years or so.  On the packaging, their UPC code is also used as a “barn code” and tells you where the meat was sourced.  In the case of my purchase, Uncured Genoa Salami,” apparently the pork came from farms in South Dakota, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Ontario and Quebec.

The label says the pork was raised on “sustainable family farms in a stress-free environment that promotes natural behavior and socialization.”   Another thing I have no idea what it means, other than perhaps the piggies are allowed to socialize on Facebook prior being driven off to the kill zone.

After the piggies socialized, they went on a  (albeit brief) vacation to California, where (according to the USDA establishment number) they were manufactured into salami by Busseto Foods in Fresno, CA, decidedly a giant among pork producers.   In fact, their Genoa salami looks very similar to Applegate’s.

I’m one of those consumers that doesn’t really care if animals we’re going to kill are ‘raised humanely,” as it seems like a contradiction anyway.  At my age, I also don’t care about whether or not I ingest preservatives, maybe more of them will actually keep me on the planet a little longer.

What I care about, particularly with salami, is appearance, taste, texture and value.  Applegate meets the first three of those categories excellent, but at near $20 a pound, value isn’t at the top of their game.  But then, all meat is expensive now.  Seems to me like it dramatically shoots up weekly.

Bottom line, would I buy Applegate salami again? Yep.  It’s tasty, no matter how the piggies were raised or what they ‘et’ prior to my chowing down on them.

Postscript:   By coincidence, the following day I spotted Busseto’s product in another store, at the equivalent of $10 a pound.  Not organic, not uncured, but are those designators worth twice the price?  Not to me.

Applegate Farms Uncured Genoa Salami


Applegate Farms Uncured Genoa Salami


Applegate Farms Salami

Bussseto Brand










Applegate Naturals Uncured Genoa Salami


“Redi-Roast” Pastrami


I’m not a fan of packaged meats, but at my neighborhood Winco @ 3AM the other night (one will frequently find me in groceries past midnight, avoiding the crowds), the deli counter wasn’t open, or course, and I had a hankering for corned beef, which they did not have in a package (except the uncooked brisket variety). So I picked up this pastrami (Redi-Roast is a Cargill brand), and I have to say, it’s surprisingly good. One reason I eschew packaged meats (even most grocery deli counters, the selections are of the “pressed, chopped, and form” variety) is a) I don’t really care for the texture, and b) for years my school lunches contained sandwiches of packaged $.59 cent lunch meats: ham, roast beef, corned beef, turkey, which would have been completely interchangeable, were it not for a slight coloration difference.

Anyway, at home, we much prefer hand-slicing a real roast or ham. But I might try some of the other varieties of Redi-Roast. As I said, ‘taint so bad. Something you can laugh about here. I carp about texture, but on the same trip, I picked up a chub of braunschweiger. LOL.
redi-roast png

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