Puzzled by those square logs of bright pink ham and perfectly round tubes of white turkey resting in grocery store deli cases? They didn't come from a rectangular pig or a cylindrical bird; many are made from animal bits that have been "restructured" with meat glues and preservatives. For those seeking something a little less processed, a couple of Boise delis are now making their own sandwich meats from scratch.
On the Fly, a new grab-and-go concept from Brick 29's Dustan Bristol, offers house-made rotisserie ham, turkey, beef, corned beef, salmon and chicken. Inside the deli's second story storefront in the Eighth and Main building, a rotisserie oven slowly spins turkey on a meaty Ferris wheel.
To make his deli turkey, Bristol buys whole turkey breasts on the bone from Tri-City Meats, breaks them down, marinates them for a couple of days and wraps the breasts in a net before cooking them low and slow on the rotisserie for close to two hours. The turkey is then shaved thin and piled on a Gaston's baguette with roasted red bell peppers, smoked gouda, aioli and dried chili pesto.
In addition to offering a house corned beef made with Angus shoulder that's brined for three to five days, On the Fly also creates its own bologna, which is served on a sandwich with white cheddar and green olive tapenade in a nod to the iconic deli loaf.
"We use pork loin, a little bit of back fat or pork fat, emulsify it, send it through the grinder several times," said Bristol. "We put it in a regular bologna sheet and then cook it and slice it."
The Boise Co-op deli also boasts a line of house-made deli meats, including four varieties of turkey, two types of ham and two kinds of roast beef. The deli meats can be purchased by the pound or on one of the Co-op's signature sandwiches, like the Cuban, with housemade ham and pulled pork, Swiss cheese, deli mustard, jalapeno relish and cilantro mayo on an Acme baguette.
"The whole set-up has probably been up-and-running for three to four months now," said Kitchen Manager Dan Carruthers. "We spent the last six months developing recipes and figuring out how to do it and how to get that much meat in the building."
The Co-op's deli turkey--available in traditional, mustard-crusted, spicy pepper and maple honey varieties--is the biggest seller.
"It's hundreds of pounds a week," said Carruthers. "I think it's 240 [pounds] on average of turkey every week and probably close to 50 on roast beef and probably close to that on ham, also. It's just a lot of food to be pumping out of a limited amount of oven space."
Though both the Boise Co-op deli and On the Fly use sodium nitrate, or pink salt, to preserve color in their house-made deli meats, the Co-op is searching for alternatives that yield similar results.
"We're trying to figure out the 'no nitrates added' thing, but we're kind of having a hard time with that," said Carruthers. "[W]e'll get there eventually."
According to Deli Manager Nick Davis, the Co-op started making its own deli meats to provide more transparency for consumers.
"Essentially, when it comes down to it, it's just us knowing where every ingredient came from," said Davis.