The Unbreakable Meat Rule For True Italian Cold Cut Sandwiches

It might seem strange for something as seemingly basic as an Italian cold cut sandwich to have rules, but there are a few things you need to do to craft the perfect sub. One of the most important things to nail is the meat, because the unique mix of cold cuts is what makes this style so signature — and the key to getting the meat right is to make sure it is sliced fresh and thin. This might be why the best Italian cold cut sandwiches don't use pre-cut salami and a big part of the reason deli subs usually taste better than ones made at home. In addition to being thinner, Cleveland Clinic explains meat sliced from whole chunks at the deli contains fewer preservatives and is less processed than pre-sliced options, which means they generally have a quality, fresher taste.

It's best if you can find a good Italian deli to source your sandwich ingredients, but even if you are just going to the supermarket, it pays to ask for your meat to be sliced as thin as possible. Though the overall layer of meat on the Italian sub is quite thick, having thin individual slices is going to make your sandwich more pleasant to eat.

Why thinly sliced deli meat is key for the best Italian sandwiches

Instead of easily chewing through a layer of savory salami and capicola, cold cuts that are too thick will make tearing off a bite a battle, and you'll end up gnawing at a hunk of salty meat that overwhelms the sandwich. Italian subs can be particularly egregious here because, unlike a turkey or roast beef sandwich, they are often made by mixing three or more different types of meat. The fatty cuts used in Italian subs are also just not as soft as ham or turkey, so a thick layer is extra tough.

Getting thin, fresh-sliced meats isn't just for texture — it affects the flavor, too. The mixture of two or three different meats in an Italian sandwich should act like alchemy, each element seamlessly blending into the whole, creating a singular flavor even greater than the sum of its parts. Thin slices let everything melt together much easier, so the fatty soppressata, spicy pepperoni, and salty prosciutto all contribute their part to each bite instead of fighting each other.