What Is Bologna Salad And What Does It Taste Like? - Mashed (2023)


ByLauren Cahn/

Bologna salad, like the bologna from which it's made, has been saddled with a rather unfortunate rap. It looks like the blame may belong to a man by the name of Alfred E. Smith. Smith served as both the 45th and 47th governor of the state of New York, as well as the Democratic Party contender who lost the 1928 presidential election to Herbert Hoover (viaNational GovernorsAssociation). According to S. Clyde Weaver Meats, during his gubernatorial terms, Smith had a habit of using the word bologna to refer to alleged lies told by his political rivals.

This clever wordplay stems from the fact that bologna is a complete fabrication — an American-made assemblage of beef, pork, turkey, and chicken. According to Bologna 4 U, this smorgasbord of protein supposedly resembles the high-end Italian luncheon sausage, mortadella, despite the fact that by law, mortadella must consist solely of pork. Conflating bologna with lies and nonsense could not have been great for its reputability. Perhaps that's why bologna salad seems to stand in its own category, separate from, and perhaps a little down-market from lobster, shrimp, tuna, chicken, turkey, or egg salad. Despite its differences from other celebrated sides, bologna salad has a wealth of history and flavor behind it.

What is bologna salad?

Considering what New York State's erstwhile governor, Alfred E. Smith appears to have done to bologna's reputation, anyone might have scoffed at the suggestion that bologna salad could possibly be cut from the same cloth as a higher-end lobster or shrimp salad (via S. Clyde Weaver Meats). However, all of these salads begin with the same two-ingredient recipe — chopped-up protein bound together with salad dressing.

Strictly speaking, bologna salad belongs squarely in the category of one of those not-really-a-salad-but-we-still-call-it-salad salads made by combining a protein that's been chopped into small pieces with a generous dollop of salad dressing. According to The Southern Lady Cooks, mayonnaise takes the role of salad dressing,but one could just as easily substitute Miracle Whip, vinaigrette, or any number of other creative emulsifications that have the power to bind together chopped protein for purposes of scooping onto a bed of lettuce or spread between two slices of bread. Beyond that, the flavor of bologna salad can be amped up with spices, seasonings, and other chopped ingredients.

What is bologna salad made from?

What Is Bologna Salad And What Does It Taste Like? - Mashed (3)


Bologna has an Italian-sounding name, which isn't a coincidence given that the name stems from the city of Bologna, Italy,where the high-end Italian sausage, mortadella, was invented (via Eater).While bologna luncheon meat shares a name with an Italian city, the ingredient made its way to the U.S. via German immigrants. Make sure to not confuse bologna and mortadella either. Whereas butchers can make bologna using basically any cut of any meat, mortadella is legally required to consist solely of high-quality pork (viaBologna 4 U). Therefore, all mortadella can be bologna, but only certain bologna can be mortadella.

True bologna is a sausage-shaped extrusionmade from a paste made of ground-up meat, water, added fat, a collection of savory seasonings and spices, sugar or other sweeteners, and salt. Spices and seasonings like black pepper and rosemary help build the flavor profile of this base ingredient, while sugar and salt act as preservatives and help cure the meat. These same components go into bologna salad and help build the food's flavor profile.

Other varieties of bologna salad

If you were to actually start looking at bologna salad through the gaze of a true lunchmeat aficionado, you might actually start to recognize that this side need not be relegated to the grade school cafeteria or the lunchbox of a longshoreman. Rather, bologna salad deserves to be served on fine china right alongside lobster, shrimp, and chicken salad. Consider that bologna salad can be prepared with all manner of add-ins such as chunks of various kinds of cheese, vegetables such as bell peppers and diced tomatoes, freshly-chopped herbs such as parsley, and even hard-boiled eggs (via Just A Pinch). Then there is bologna salad made from something pickled bologna, according toSerious Eats.

Pickled bologna salad is made from bologna pickled in vinegar along with classic pickling spices like bay leaves, mustard seeds, and coriander seeds. The final product ends up as a tangy, cold snack that goes perfectly with an ice-cold brew. Make that a hand-crafted, artisanal brew, and bologna salad is on its way to a whole new image.

Bologna salad vs. seafood salad

What Is Bologna Salad And What Does It Taste Like? - Mashed (5)

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Bologna salad stands apart from most of the other protein-slash-dressing salads due to the use of bologna — which is an extrusion made from ground-up bits of pork, beef, chicken, and turkey. Bologna could use virtually any meat, and unless you see it made, you really can't know exactly what meat it's made of. This same mystery variety of meet draws parallels to seafood salad.

The protein in most seafood salad is imitation crabmeat(via Dinner at the Zoo). Imitation crab exists as an extrusion of any number of seafood mixed into a paste with seasonings and binding agents. In this sense, seafood salad and bologna salad share a common bond through the fact that both products rely on a meat amalgamation as the primary ingredient. While you may have to whip up your own seafood salad, some artisans across the country sell bologna salad straight to customers.

Where can you buy bologna salad?

According to Serious Eats, bologna-making has been elevated to an art form in the Midwest and doesn't get marginalized as mystery meat. Midwesterners have come to view bologna as something entirely distinct from floppy pink slices that Oscar Meyer and other mass-marketed luncheon meat brands sell as bologna. Rather, they recognize that this meat originates from local smokehouses and meat markets, with each log featuring a distinctsmokinessmixed with hints of spice.

Midwestern bologna salad, featuring artisan, ground bologna as opposed to chopped, gets mixed with mayonnaise and pickle relish(via Michigan Cuisine). Many also eat it between two pieces of white bread, while some Midwesternerseven pride themselves on eschewing jarred relish and chopping up the pickles and onions themselves. While this salad comes in a variety of forms, the food has a reliably consistent amount of salt, fat, and sugar, no matter which version you enjoy.

Bologna salad's nutritional information

While bologna salad rises above being merely mystery meat slathered in mayo, a nutritionist might not recommend it as a go-to lunch. Bologna salad does contain an unspecified combination of cured meat bound together with a generous helping of oil-and-egg-based dressing. According to My Fitness Pal,a mere ounce of the salad contains 64 calories,and 41 of those calories come from fat. The remaining 23 calories stem from 21 grams of carbs and a scant two grams of protein. Plus, bologna salad is also high in sodium and cholesterol.

When you eat a whole scoop's worth of bologna salad, you're multiplying those numbers times six, which can add up over time. As long as you enjoy this regional delicacy in moderation, you should have no problem and help elevate bologna back to its rightful status as meat worth appreciating. For a protein-based salad like no other, make sure to get your hands on a container of bologna salad and get ready to find a newfound love for this luncheon meat.



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