Yes, it is possible to slice ham on a mandolin mainly because this nifty gadget has a sharp blade that can slice most food items.
However, taking the usual 5-pound cured, smoked, and baked ham on this tool would be a challenge mainly because of its size.
Carving this part of the meat with a regular chef’s knife would still be the best way to go.
A very important lesson that new home cooks should learn is that very few kitchen tools are versatile.
One of these is the millennia-old knife.
The rest of those that we use in the kitchen – whether mechanical or electric – are made for very specific jobs.
The more we welcome this notion, the lesser stress we will feel.
The mandolin is one of these.
Related: The most popular types of meat you should know about
The Real Job Of The Mandolin
The prototype of this device was brought to life by the very same person who invented the guillotine.
Dr. Joseph Ignace Guillotin put together two steel surfaces, set it parallel to each other, and encased it in wood. He then named it after his ex-girlfriend, Mandy.
The first steel surface is sharpened on one edge.
The second steel surface – the one under the first – can be adjusted using a knob on the side to go close to the first.
This is what sets the thickness of the cuts.
To slice, merely slide the fruit or vegetable on the second steel surface until it reaches the first.
The sliced piece will be deposited under the device.
21st-century models still make use of that very same concept but improvements have been made.
The most obvious is the safety feature:
• A holder is included. This holds the food item, preventing injuries that may be caused by slipping food.
• Most brands come with a stand or a stabilizing container so that you’re not holding the mandolin with one hand and the vegetable in the other.
Modern variants also come with several attachments which can do more than just slice fruits and veggies into discs.
But read all printed manuals inserted in the box and you won’t find tips on how to slice meat.
That’s very obvious because this device isn’t made for that particular food item.
The Wonder That Is The Knife
A high-quality knife that is sharpened and a well-honed knife is still the best tool for all your slicing and dicing needs.
Admittedly, it’s not easy to acquire the skills pro chefs have when carving the ham.
But with the right tips and a whole lot of patient practice, you will be able to slice that beautiful ham in front of your guests over Thanksgiving.
• A regular chef’s knife will do the job but a carving or slicing knife is your best bet.
These knives are long and narrow, with sharp straight edges that are good for a solid downward movement instead of see-sawing through the meat.
Make sure these are sharp. Blunt knives will ruin your meat and your whole dinner party.
• A carving fork is a must-have
This will help you with three things: steady and stabilize the meat so you can make thin, straight cuts, and serve the food.
• Cut two or three slices on the widest side of the ham to create a base.
Turn it over so that’s at the bottom serving as a stabilizer then start slicing from one side.
• Carve only what is needed. You don’t want this nice slab of meat getting dry and inedible in a few hours – that is precisely what’s going to happen if you slice it all at once.
The Possibility Of Using A Mandolin For Slicing Ham
As aforementioned, it is possible to slice ham with a mandolin. If you want to do this as an experiment, take note of the following tips.
• Cut a chunk of ham first.
• The best slice you can get here is extremely thin slivers which you can use for stir fry or short bacon strips.
Going for anything thicker than that will ruin your meat or your mandolin.
• Par-freezing is still a must.
• Cut your meat into smaller pieces – something that the holder can handle.
• Don’t press the holder with the slab of meat too hard down. That’s an accident waiting to happen.
• Wash your mandolin well after using meat on it.
Unless you have one specifically for meat, you don’t want Salmonella and E-Coli spreading to your fruits and veggies.