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An old-fashioned loaf of luncheon meat is a pork and beef blend that is seasoned with a select group of herbs and spices. The final product is formed into a shape that is similar to a loaf of bread, then smoked to allow the flavors to mingle. Still produced today, loaves of luncheon meat can be purchased at delicatessens and many supermarkets that carry a wide range of cold cuts. The loaf can be purchased whole, or sliced according to specifications. Thin slices of the old-fashioned loaf work well as cold cuts, while thicker slices may be cut into sections for use as an ingredient in stir-fry dishes or other hot recipes.
While the traditional blend of meat includes only pork and beef, an old-fashioned loaf today may also include turkey and chicken that has been artificially flavored to approximate the taste of ham. This approach can help to cut the amount of carbohydrates and cholesterol that is contained in the original recipe, while still preserving the somewhat coarse texture of the product. Since the old-fashioned loaf is fully cooked, it is possible to slice the meat for use in sandwiches. The sliced luncheon meat works very well in both hot and cold sandwiches.
Typically, the loaf is smoked as part of the preparation process. Hardwoods are the preferred fuel for smoking, since the wood helps to give the finished product a flavor that is unique among lunch meats. The amount of time spent smoking the old-fashioned load will vary, depending on the exact recipe used and the size of the loaf.
Known in some parts of the world as a Dutch loaf, the exact origins of the old-fashioned loaf are disputed. While some sources place the first pork and beef combination being served in the Netherlands, other traditions identify the United Kingdom or Germany is the country of origin. Regardless of the history behind this unique lunch meat, the old-fashioned loaf is now widely available around the world.