Primal “not” crackers. Sal’ackers, baked salami . . . whatever.

salami1Giada de Laurentis currently has a short 3 minute spot on the Food Network, where she slices a good quality Italian salami and bakes it. Then she tops it with a spoonful of sour cream and a sprig of basil. Her version, is of course, exquisitely beautiful.

I feel guilty in calling this a “recipe.” First, it’s not my idea, second, it’s simple to the “duh” level, and I wish it had occurred to me to do this earlier.

For the low-carb, high-fat, gluten-free crowd — me, in other words– I’m thinking, whoot!! “crackers!” At least something resembling a cracker.

As to crackers, those that have no gluten and  satisfy the crave for crunch: there’s an almond flour brand from Julian Bakery I like, but they are kind of bland. I’ve made my own from nut flours and chia and flax seeds, and enlisted the oven or dehydrator, all of which were fine, but, frankly, it’s a pain to roll out non-gluten flours and seeds to the right thickness. I make my own crackers when I can, but it requires some time and creates a deal of mess. I usually just eat the nuts and seeds as they  are.

Baked salami, I thought? Yay! Like round bacon, but more spicy. Not to mention, easy.

I first tried it with the bog-standard hard salami at the deli. Finely ground, dark pink and fairly homogenous, it’s my fav deli meat.

This weekend, thanks to Fresh Direct, I got my hands on some good Italian stuff, the kind with big visible blobs of fat and whole peppercorns. I asked for an extra-thick cut.

Ordinary stuff on the left; expensive stuff to the right — I obviously need a camera that doesn’t make phone calls

In practical terms, it’s the difference between $8/lb and $15/lb.

The end result: the Italian premium stuff rewarded with a crispier texture, but more fat blow-outs, resulting in a superior taste, cleaner flavors, and the zing of whole peppercorns. It reminded me for the awesome recipe on Nom Nom Paleo for the baked prociutto called Porkitos!. This is really good just on its own. (Update: the premium salami didn’t age as well as the cheap stuff.)

Nothing says quality like a fat blow-out

The hard salami from the regular deli was firmer, no holes, a bit saltier and meatier. It is a great vehicle for toppings.

Giada cooked her sliced salami for 5 minutes at 325 F.

I was going for a more cracker-like experience, so I found my ideal time and temp was 16 minutes at 350. Once the edges begin to curl up like a shallow mini salami dish, they are DONE. In about 20 more seconds they’ll be burnt, black, smoking round things, so watch them starting at about 8 minutes until you figure out how your salami and oven react to each other. The burnt fat does NOT smell nice if you let them go too far. They flatten out as they cool.

Now for the infrastructure:

I used half sheet pans, lined with foil ( you don’t know how much fat will render until you’ve done it a few times. Every brand is different.). I put the foil there in case too much fat renders, so I can get it out of the pan mid-batch.

Next, place a cooling rack in the foil-covered sheet pan.

Place salami,  12 pieces to a rack, or however many you can fit without overlapping. They will shrink. Fat will render, so keep an eye on it. (My smoke alarms are sensitive as heck. I turn on the hood fan. Nothing ruins a nice baking project like the sprinkler system going off.)

Put an a different cooling rack to firm up, then seal in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. Repeat. Replace the foil if you need to in order to reduce smoking in the oven.

You can pat the cooling disks with paper toweling if you want to get rid of some of the liquid fat.

Giadia’s idea of sour cream and basil as a topping is fantastic. I’m embarrassed to say how many of those I’ve eaten.

However, be bold with your sal’ackers and toppings. For example:

  • softened cream cheese and chopped bell peppers, celery, onion  . . . let your fridge coach you
  • small piece of cheese
  • ripe grape tomato or tomato slice and a leaf of basil
  • a great prepared cheese spread like this one, or one from your favorite healthy place
  • a slice of cucumber, Greek yogurt and dill
  • leftover deviled egg filling — that was very yum
  • sal’izza — use them as mini pizza crusts! — skip the pepperoni, as it’s already in there
  • I might go nuts someday and try it with cream cheese, smoked salmon and dill, but keep in mind that the sal’acker is plenty salty. I love salt, but this might be over the top with cured salmon
  • sal’accos — salsa, a palm heart and cheese. Taco meat would be overkill? Nah. OK, I’ll stop now.

So, let your conscience be your guide. For me, eating keto is all about the fat, so don’t hate. I know what the standard  nutritional guidelines say. I just chose to think differently.


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