Meat Expert Guesses Which Deli Meat Is More Expensive and Explains Why | Price Points

In this episode of 'Price Points', Epicurious challenged meat expert Elias Cairo of Olympia Provisions to guess which one of two deli meats was more expensive. Cairo breaks down cuts of salami, ham, bologna, mortadella, hot dogs, sausages, and prosciutto. For each round of deli meats, Cairo analyzes, smells, and taste tests each meat before guessing which deli meat costs more. Once the prices were revealed, Cairo explains why a specific deli meat costs more and how each deli meat is prepared.

Released on 3/15/2018

Credits

Starring: Eli Cairo

Transcript

00:00
I am Eli Cairo and you can say I'm a meat expert.
00:02
(playful music)
00:06
Oh yeah, mm hm.
00:06
This is heaven.
00:08
(playful music)
00:16
Awesome, salami.
00:17
Definitely my favorite.
00:18
I'm a salami producer.
00:20
What do I look for when I'm looking for a quality salami?
00:23
First and foremost is I go for mold.
00:26
A is in a natural casing which does add flavor.
00:30
And it has e very, very beautiful mold on the outside of it.
00:34
It looks like a very natural product.
00:36
You can tell that it's natural also by the fact
00:39
that the rounds have the casing on it.
00:41
And they're very very tender.
00:42
That will add an amazing flavor.
00:45
This one on the left here,
00:46
you can tell that this is probably collagen casing.
00:49
And then this is yeah, definitely a fake mold.
00:53
That doesn't do anything to add the flavor whatsoever.
00:56
Another quality that you want to look for
00:58
is when you cut into it,
00:59
you like to see really, really clear definition
01:02
between the white fat and the red meat.
01:04
The fat should look really bright and white.
01:07
If you're starting to get a little bit of yellows
01:09
and not as bright and crisp, it could be a sign
01:12
that oxygen got inside of that
01:13
and made the fat a little bit rancid.
01:16
Now we get to do the best part, which is tasting it.
01:19
We'll start here.
01:20
And mm, you'll pick up the flavor of the mold right away.
01:24
And the mold bloom is very pungent and real.
01:27
When you bite into it, it melts nicely on your tongue.
01:30
It actually dissolves, there's no greasy residue.
01:32
I'm not getting any weird chunks in there.
01:34
This one, give it a good smell.
01:37
Also, looks pretty good.
01:39
You know it's definitely cured pretty hard.
01:42
Another quality test when you're shopping for salami,
01:45
is you should give it a nice squeeze.
01:47
If the salami has a little bit of give,
01:50
that is the ideal perfect salami, it's not too hard.
01:53
If you start slicing into the salamis
01:55
and they're completely rock hard,
01:56
to me they're just a little bit too old,
01:58
a little bit past their prime.
01:59
It'll be a little harder and chewy,
02:01
it won't be the most enjoyable mouth feel.
02:05
The first thing that you taste is the lactic tang.
02:08
On a more fast mass produced salami,
02:11
you can add just a lactic acid bacteria directly into it.
02:15
Bring your salami to any temperature,
02:16
drop the PH making it self stable real quick,
02:19
however you've never allowed your salami
02:21
to develop an amazing flavor.
02:23
And it literally will taste like pork
02:25
and acid and kind of tang.
02:27
Gosh darn it, that thing is sticky.
02:29
(gong rings)
02:32
I would assume that this is a more expensive salami.
02:35
However the perception at market,
02:37
there is only so much people will pay for a salami,
02:40
so the prices on these may be very close.
02:43
Let's check it out.
02:46
How did I do?
02:48
Ooh, good.
02:49
35 bucks to 20 bucks.
02:51
This is a much, that makes me really happy
02:53
'cause this is a very high quality salami.
02:55
There's definitely a time and place for both of these.
02:57
A is great when you're trying to enjoy
03:00
something very quality.
03:01
Natural casings, live mold, great particleization.
03:05
This one, throw it on a pizza, you know like a salami
03:08
that has a live active mold on the outside,
03:11
won't really translate to just throwing it on a pizza
03:13
and throwing it in.
03:14
I mean, you can, it's decadent, I get to do it.
03:15
But I make it for a living, so that's different.
03:17
(laughs)
03:21
Hams, one of the most loved deli meats ever.
03:24
Both of these look like, from first glance
03:26
that they're is real smoke on them to some extent
03:28
as opposed to liquid smoke.
03:30
If you use a liquid smoke, you can turn it instantly brown
03:34
and have it taste like real smoke.
03:35
Obviously this one is pretty pretty awesome.
03:37
It's definitely a classic Americana ham.
03:40
It is from what I'm guessing, yeah, it's spiral cut.
03:43
Which is a sign of mass production.
03:45
It also has an amazing crust of sugar
03:48
and crunchiness going on on top.
03:50
This is classic American ham.
03:52
The problem when I look at a ham that has been spiral cut,
03:55
ready to go, you're probably using some kind of phosphate.
03:59
The phosphate helps the moisture stay inside of it.
04:03
That is definitely a way to speed up
04:06
the process of cooking it.
04:07
Then they're gonna smoke their whole ham.
04:09
A ham when you cook it without phosphates,
04:11
it's gonna shrink down.
04:12
It's gonna look more like a natural piece of meat.
04:15
This one's almost too full and too plump.
04:17
If you're looking at it and you get kind of a side light,
04:20
and you almost have a rainbow effect on there,
04:23
that could mean that there's also too much phosphate
04:25
in there.
04:26
This is a beautiful little small ham.
04:28
The color is very very natural.
04:30
When you start to see these fatty areas,
04:32
that have difference between darker browns
04:34
and light browns, that's a good sign
04:36
that this was smoked over real, real wood.
04:38
And we'll be able to taste that.
04:39
I'm gonna start with A, give it a nice smell.
04:45
Smells like ham.
04:46
It just kind of smells like char, so that makes me think
04:50
that it is a liquid smoke.
04:52
Mm, nice and tender.
04:54
Ridiculously sweet in a weird way.
04:57
Definitely not a whole lot going on in that one.
04:59
Let's try this guy.
05:01
Mm, yeah.
05:03
Just right away you taste real smoke.
05:05
This is definitely applewood, we kind of say
05:08
it's like using butter,
05:09
it gives it like this wonderful rich flavor to it.
05:12
The hickory gives it it's beautiful color,
05:14
I would assume that there's some hickory on there.
05:16
I'd say this has actual onion in it, shallot, fresh garlic,
05:19
possibly some brown sugar.
05:21
The wood smoke and the flavor that's put into that ham,
05:23
mm, I'm gonna say just roughly
05:25
that I think this is the more quality ham.
05:27
(gong rings)
05:29
Guess we'll see how I did on this one.
05:33
Not too bad.
05:35
Honestly the prices aren't as drastic
05:37
as I would have thought.
05:38
This is a great, great ham.
05:40
You could tell it's made with real ingredients,
05:41
full flavor and this ham is you know,
05:43
a beautiful family-style ham
05:45
that has process on the outside.
05:46
The reason that I assumed that this one is a little bit
05:49
more expensive, is again, it doesn't have phosphate
05:52
to add to the volume,
05:53
they're losing a lot of the weight in the ham
05:55
in the cooking process,
05:56
it's definitely cooked with real smoke,
05:58
which takes a very long time.
06:00
I would have assumed that this would have been
06:01
a little bit more expensive with all the ingredients
06:03
that you could taste that are going into it,
06:05
but goes to show what I know.
06:08
Aha, yes, I know what these are.
06:10
We got bologna and mortadella.
06:12
They're both fully emulsified meats.
06:14
Kind of what we call in layman's terms, a cold cut.
06:16
An emulsified meat or an emulsification
06:19
is when you take lean meat and you form a myosin bind
06:22
and you fold in the fat, and the lean meat
06:24
kind of encompasses the fat, making a bind or an emulsion.
06:27
Visually you quickly see that this has
06:29
a true full emulsification, it has zero air bubbles,
06:33
possibly a sign that it has fillers in it
06:35
or is just mass produced.
06:37
The fillers that are commonly used
06:39
are also called work aids or work crutches.
06:42
It's essentially to speed up the process.
06:44
A is a little bit more rougher
06:46
but has a really good emulsification.
06:48
A much more natural color to it.
06:51
There's also little chunks of pistachios and black pepper,
06:54
and little pieces of lard for added flavor
06:56
and crunch and texture.
06:57
Color wise, both of the colors of those
06:59
come from nitrate or nitrites.
07:01
It produces nitric oxide, which protects the color.
07:04
It also gives you that natural cured flavor.
07:07
And the most important thing is that they attacked botulism.
07:10
Pretty dangerous pathogen.
07:11
Judging by appearance A definitely looks handmade
07:15
from a smaller butcher shop, little bit more quality.
07:17
Yeah, both of 'em are pretty good looking though.
07:22
A is definitely beautiful.
07:24
Got a good bind, it's not too rubbery,
07:26
you can see the meat tear.
07:27
It actually smells like ingredient you know,
07:29
you can get a little cinnamon,
07:30
you instantly smell real garlic.
07:32
Give it a taste.
07:34
Mm, you want the texture to be kind of natural.
07:36
You don't want anything that when you bite into,
07:38
it's rubbery or too light.
07:40
You want it to resemble meat.
07:41
You also, as you're tasting it,
07:42
you don't want any of that lactic tang,
07:44
nothing that's fake.
07:45
And then the freshness of the spices
07:47
makes it way more than just
07:48
a one note bologna or whatever.
07:50
Mm hm, oh that is good actually.
07:52
Real, real good.
07:53
This one you could probably pull pretty hard on that.
07:55
That's probably a filler that's making that bind.
07:59
Not a whole lot going on there.
08:01
It almost does smell a little bit of tangy.
08:05
Mm hm, not gonna eat all that. (laughs)
08:08
(gong rings)
08:10
Clearly A is the more expensive of the product,
08:12
at least it should be.
08:13
It's full of flavor, but you never know,
08:15
so let's take a look.
08:19
Nailed it.
08:20
Quick comparison, A is much more a delicious product.
08:24
This one has nuances you could put this
08:26
on a charcuterie board, also have it on a sandwich.
08:28
You could heat it but it has just amazing texture,
08:31
real spices, no fake lactic acid.
08:34
Over here, you're just getting a solid American bologna.
08:37
Nothing too flavorful, nothing too crazy.
08:39
Nice way to deal with a hangover.
08:42
(laughs)
08:45
Got hot dogs.
08:46
Who doesn't love hotdogs?
08:47
The most American of all sausages
08:49
that you could possibly buy at a deli.
08:50
The biggest thing that you're gonna find,
08:52
if one is of a high quality,
08:54
or a low quality, you look for casings.
08:57
These ones you can see, have a natural curve to it.
08:59
They have a little bit of knobs on the side,
09:01
it looks like they're actual casings between it.
09:03
These ones I'm gonna go ahead and say are casingless.
09:06
They don't even have a casing on them.
09:08
At some point they did.
09:09
And then once you smoke them or cook them
09:12
or put 'em in liquid smoke at the end of it,
09:14
you strip off the outside of the casing,
09:16
so it just kind of like a casingless sausage
09:19
that looks smoked.
09:20
Not saying it's a bad sausage,
09:22
it's just not as great as this one.
09:24
The reason why a true lamb casing is so delicious,
09:27
they're gonna plump up and be wonderful.
09:29
You're able to eat the casing,
09:30
when you bite into it,
09:31
it's gonna give you that like classic snap.
09:33
Why I love the snap so much
09:35
is that it actually gives it a texture to it.
09:37
Once you taste it, that's the (clicks) that's the thing.
09:39
That's the trick.
09:40
Both of these have amazing color.
09:42
You know, they're almost too even on both of 'em,
09:44
I'm not sure, we'll have to taste 'em to see if we can
09:46
taste fake smoke used, or liquid smoke used on these.
09:51
I'm gonna start with the casingless one
09:53
over here to see if I'm right.
09:57
Yeah, that's a, that's actually quite delicious flavor wise,
10:01
it's kind of awesome.
10:02
You know, this is what you expect from a beef frank.
10:04
Garlic, smoked, fat.
10:06
You don't want it to be too greasy when you heat it up,
10:08
the grease should be nicely in there.
10:10
This one over here, let's see if we got the snap.
10:13
Oh yeah, that's what I'm talking about.
10:14
Mm hm, very similar in flavor honestly.
10:17
They're very very close.
10:18
The only thing that makes this one a better sausage,
10:21
the casing's real.
10:22
You get every time you chew it,
10:23
you get a little bit more snap,
10:24
it makes it a little bit more of a special sausage
10:27
than a you know, just a casingless one.
10:31
Both of them, mm hm, judging from both of these,
10:36
I don't think either of these are made with real smoke.
10:40
I think these are both liquid smoke.
10:43
That one's really close actually.
10:44
(gong rings)
10:47
The fact that they did use natural casings
10:50
and it's a little bit more, I'm gonna go ahead and assume
10:53
that this is the more expensive, this one should be close.
10:58
Oh yeah dude, I crushed, never mind.
10:59
It's way more expensive.
11:01
A lamb casing is the most expensive ingredient
11:04
on an entire frankfurter.
11:05
They're very very hard to process,
11:07
they're tricky to work with.
11:08
Slow process, everything about it.
11:10
But yeah, the casing and that snap is almost worth
11:12
double the price, or it is worth double the price.
11:16
Well this one seems obvious.
11:18
Prosciuttos, jamon, dry cured hams,
11:21
looks really really obvious to me,
11:22
I'd go as far as to say if I guess this one wrong,
11:25
I will quit being a meat expert
11:27
and get into candy or something.
11:29
Right off the bat, you're looking for a really even,
11:31
dark, rich beautiful color
11:34
with lots of wonderful marbling inside of it.
11:37
I'm gonna go ahead and say that this is a jamon iberico,
11:40
that would be a spanish-style ham
11:42
because there is the darkness and the size of it,
11:45
and the density of color.
11:46
This one on the right doesn't have very much marbling in it.
11:50
And you look at this very pale
11:52
and almost still looks a little bit raw.
11:54
What happens when you're dry curing hams,
11:56
is you're pulling the moisture from inside of the meat out,
11:59
very similar to salami producing.
12:01
And in doing that, the proteins are getting
12:03
more and more concentrated.
12:04
And so all the red and beautiful meats
12:06
are getting more connected.
12:08
Here you still have a lot of moisture suspended in it,
12:10
and so it's keeping the meat separated.
12:13
This pig was grain fed its whole life.
12:15
Possibly even given some kind of animal steroids
12:18
to make it grow faster.
12:20
Still possibly a great product, we'll have to taste it.
12:22
I'll start out with the lesser cured one.
12:28
Mm hm, first thing that I notice is the mouth feel.
12:31
It's still relatively rather chewy.
12:33
There's not a lot of flavor nuances in there.
12:36
It's kind of like a one trick pony.
12:38
This is a fine prosciutto.
12:40
I would say that it's just young.
12:42
Let's give this one a bite.
12:43
Smell it of course again.
12:45
I mean that really smells like almonds and black truffles,
12:48
it's kind of just amazing.
12:51
And this is right.
12:52
I mean this is heaven.
12:55
It has flavors of almonds, it's crust is beautifully bitter.
12:57
With all the fat that's in the muscles,
13:00
all these wonderful marbling, it stays wonderfully moist.
13:03
I'm gonna assume that this is jamon de Iberico de Bellota.
13:07
Possibly Black Label.
13:08
That is the highest label that you could possibly get.
13:11
(gong rings)
13:13
Well it's pretty obvious right now which one I think
13:15
is the more expensive one.
13:16
If I'm wrong on this, I'll probably quit making meat.
13:20
Let's see.
13:24
That's about right.
13:25
How would you justify the price of this?
13:28
The amount of detail that is spent
13:29
by the farmer raising these pigs.
13:32
This pig probably was born in a deep barn,
13:35
out in the middle of a field.
13:36
Spent its entire life rooting around,
13:39
following its brothers and sisters around,
13:40
wrestling through the forest,
13:42
and then fattened on acorns for the last part of his life.
13:45
One of the most amazing parts about this,
13:47
is that it has a DOP.
13:49
Denomination of protection for a product.
13:52
They're also protecting the producer.
13:54
Making sure there's nobody else out there
13:56
that's from another part of Europe or America,
13:58
trying to pretend that this is that ham.
14:01
This prosciutto or cured ham I'm assuming
14:03
was probably raised in confinement over gestation crates,
14:07
probably didn't get a whole lot of activity his entire life.
14:10
It's kind of a sad pig to be honest with you.
14:14
There was a lot of information here.
14:15
I hope some of that's valuable.
14:17
You can use some of this when you're purchasing
14:18
fancy dinner snacks or wonderful bologna sandwiches.
14:22
Thanks for watching, hope you enjoyed.