Guide to Cured Meats

We all love to visit authentic delis and salivate at the meats and cheeses that are on display. We are often confronted with names that are difficult to pronounce and cuts of meat that leave us wanting to fill our bags with slices of meat that we know little about, but are itching to try. The treats on display are wonderful, but not knowing your salami from your bologna can make the whole experience rather overwhelming and even a little intimidating. Here I take a look at some of our favourite cured meats as well as some lesser known ones. We love to eat these with crackers, eggs and even as a solitary midnight munch. I hope that this guide is useful to you when picking delectable delights for your family to enjoy.


This sausage – also colloquially known as baloney – is made from ground pork and originated in (yes, you guessed it) the Italian city of Bologna. Made of ground pork, bologna is easy to slice and enjoyable on sandwiches. It is seasoned with black pepper , nutmeg and allspice, but the overall taste is mild. The soft nature of the meat makes it popular with children – mine love it on a bun with crisp lettuce. 


Perhaps one of the more popular and well-known cured meats that you are likely to encounter, chorizo is a staple feature of most supermarket shelves across Europe. It comes in many different forms including thin slices, cubes and a ring. It is made from pork and is smoked. We find it a little overpowering as a sandwich meat, but enjoy it cubed and gently fried before adding it to tomato pasta dishes. 


This is another popular choice at our dinner table. This spreadable fermented sausage is made from pork jowl, belly and shoulder. It is loaded with tasty spices and back fat. It is great with crackers or homemade crusty bread. My children like this with cheese and some sweet tomatoes. 


Along with chorizo, this meat is popular across Europe. It is made from seasoned pork belly and is available thinly sliced and in lardons and cubes. It is at its best in traditional carbonara pasta. Be careful to render the fat slowly in order to avoid burning the pancetta. 


This is a rich and tasty meat. We find that it is best eaten in small quantities as it can be quite overpowering. It is quite fatty, but a good quality soujouk is filled with soft and tasty fat rather than grease and gristle. It is made of beef that is mixed with spices before being air dried. Its marbled appearance is distinctive. 


This is a spreadable sausage that is somewhat lighter in colourand taste than ‘nduja. It is made from pork, pork liver and bacon. It is tasty and easy to eat. It is nice on fresh white bread and is certainly a favourite with the youngsters in our house.