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Oscar Mayer's New Cold Cuts Are Really Spicy and That's No Bologna

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"That's some spicy sliced turkey," is not a phrase I ever anticipated coming out of my mouth. But, then, I also didn't anticipate really liking a sandwich involving cold cuts. While I'm a big fan of Italian deli meats, I've never really latched onto to the standard American sliced turkey, ham, etc. I generally find them rather bland, salty but not savory, with a texture akin to damp felt.

Knowing I am perpetually interested in new supermarket products, a friend of mine alerted me to the introduction of a new line of "bold" cold cuts from Oscar Mayer. I was dubious, but embracing the mantra "everything is worth trying once," I sampled the Cajun Style Turkey Breast, Chipotle Seasoned Chicken Breast, and the Cracked Pepper Turkey Breast.

All are made with no artificial flavors and colors. Good thing, as I shudder to think we are living in a world where manufacturers and consumers prefer to use fake cracked pepper.

This story continues on the next page.

When constructing a sandwich, I take bread selection very seriously and usually I pick some artisan baguette or multigrain or foccaccia depending on the sandwich's contents. In this case, however, I wanted the bread to serve only as an architectural implement not as a contributor of competing flavors and textures. So, I chose plain white sliced bread. Yes, that stuff that has little to no nutritional value but is wonderful for providing a medium for "bold" toppings to shine.

In the spirit of a sort of lunchbox platter, I made a number of half sandwiches with different meats, cheeses, and condiments. In the cracked pepper turkey breast sandwich, for example, I interspersed sliced tomatoes, dijon mustard, and slices of overripe avocado. The cajun chicken breast sandwich was treated with pesto mayonnaise, lettuce, and sliced mozzarella.

"These are cold cuts for grownups," I concluded after trying all three varieties in different styles of sandwiches. (Ignore this generalization if your kids are among the youngsters who love spicy food.) The ambiguously titled "cajun-style" turkey boasted clear notes of cayenne pepper, oregano, and paprika and provided a latent heat that made me think it might pair extremely well with a soft mild cheese such as goat's milk feta. In turn, the cracked pepper turkey tickled my tongue and almost almost made me sneeze after a few bites, though granted, I also took the liberty of taking a few sniffs way up close.

My favorite of the three flavors I tried was the chipotle chicken, whose spritely pepper kick was reminiscent of that found in old-school Tex-Mex gravy. Although I was more than happy to have layered on some cheddar cheese and eaten the sandwich cold, in the future I will try it toasted with the addition of soy chorizo (less grease than the regular kind).

So, sopressata and salami fans, take a chance on some bold (no quotes needed this time) domestic deli meats courtesy of Oscar Mayer. It's all in the name of diverse lunches.

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