Old-School Cooking: Grandma’s Salami

I have two very distinct sets of food memories.

Set one (the much larger set) is that of my family when I was growing up. I've talked about this memory set many many times here, and it's one of the primary reasons that I love to cook, fun food experiences, and cooking for others.

Set two is that of my grandma. Grandma was a spectacular cook, and meticulous in a way that we usually reserve for professionals. I have vivid memories of standing next to her at the L-shaped counter in her bright yellow kitchen (complete with yellow fridge and stove, of course) and watching her use a tape measure to perfectly line up the cuts she had to make on the rolled out panel of coffee cake dough that was rolled out there. She used a certain fork at a certain angle to make perfectly pressed crosshatch marks in her lemon cookies. I think it's where my sister got her love for the perfection in pastry.

There are certain savory dishes that will always remind me of my grandma: roast chicken, fillits, moroccan sesame chicken, and beef salami. Yep. Salami.

homemade beef salami-7 copy

I remember my mom and grandma, together, mixing hefty bowls of ground beef and turkey, then later baking this beef into the most phenomenal, fresh-from-the-Jewish-deli-tasting salami that we would eat and eat and eat and eat until all 5 or 10 pounds of salami were gone.

This, my friends, is what 5 pounds of salami looks like:

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There's another one behind the stack as well. I was bound and determined to make Grandma's salami. So much so, in fact, that I made it once, messed up, and did it again. The first batch ended up looking rather like…well, lets just say it didn't look like salami.

It's quite a process extended over three to five days. This time, I went with three, but I'll be doing it again for the full five. The recipe is extremely simple:

Grandma's Beef Salami

by What's For Dinner?

Prep Time: 10 minutes, plus 3-5 days

Cook Time: 6-8 hours

Keywords: bake appetizer side snack kosher low-carb ground beef Jewish

Ingredients (8 salamis)

  • 5 pounds lean ground beef (80%-90%)
  • 5 Tablespoons whole mustard seeds
  • 4-5 rounded teaspoons curing salt (I used this one from Williams-Sonoma)
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon liquid smoke


Day 1: Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Cover and set in the refrigerator.

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Day 2: Mix

Day 3: Mix (can be baked on this day)

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(This is the mixture on day 3, notably grayer and odd-looking)

Day 4: Mix

Day 5: Pre-heat the oven to its lowest temperature (Mine was 170°). Divide the meat mixture into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a log shape, and wrap the log in heavy-duty aluminum foil, shiny side in, twisting the ends to seal.

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Poke holes in the foil with a fork or knife on the side opposite the seam.

Place the rolls holes side down directly on the rack of the oven. Place a large baking sheet with sides on the rack below the rolls.

Bake for four hours, then carefully remove the foil.

Place the salami back on the rack in the oven and cook another four hours, turning once.

Allow to cool completely before slicing and serving.

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homemade beef salami-7.jpg

After the errors of the first batch, (click here to see the photo. I'm warning you. It's not pretty) I took to google to figure out a way to make the final product prettier, and that's where I found the tip about the aluminum foil-wrapped rolls. It was worth the extra effort since the final product actually looked like salami.

Rumor has it that it freezes well. All I know is that it's delicious with sharp cheddar, on crackers, on sandwiches, on its own, and Adam swears by sandwiches made with salami and cream cheese. I have two in the freezer for my mom. One went to my assistant principal (who shared it with her husband), one went to my teammate, and the others? Yeah… we ate them.

I really think Grandma would be proud!

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8 Responses to Old-School Cooking: Grandma’s Salami

  1. mom says:

    wow… this was a great entry, sweetie. It’s especially moving to me since next week it is 6 years since Grandma died… so surreal.
    Love you!

  2. So cool!! I bet my dad would love to try this! I would never think to bake it in the aluminum, that’s cool!
    Dinner at Christina’s´s last blog post ..Tuna Quinoa Cakes

  3. Marianne says:

    Homemade salami eh? I would have never even thought that was something you could easily make at home. I’m tempted to try it myself – do you think only beef would work for it, or would other ground meats be good as well?
    Marianne´s last blog post ..“M” Is For…

  4. Good thing you tried again Mara! I always thought it would be way more complicated than that.

    Have a great weekend!

  5. Madison says:

    I think your grandma would be proud! Thank you for sharing this recipe–I have always wondered how salami is made. Now I know! 🙂
    Madison´s last blog post ..Pam’s Oatmeal Cookies

  6. Biz says:

    Glad the second batch turned out Mara – looks delicious and I think your Grandma would be proud. 😀

    Have fun at The Book of Mormon tomorrow!!

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