A Charcuterie Board makes entertaining super easy. Whether you call it a charcuterie plate or a charcuterie board, it’s easy to make when you begin with quality smoked, cured, and cooked meats. The perfect charcuterie board will contain at least 3 to 5 types of charcuterie representing different styles and textures, an assortment of cheese, plus something acidic, like pickles and olives, and something sweet like fruit chutney to complement the flavors. Nuts, fresh and dried fruits, bread, and crackers also make wonderful accompaniments.
Start with a wooden board, plate, platter, or piece of slate as the base.
Choose at least 3 to 5 charcuterie items that represent various styles and textures: smoked and meaty, dry-cured and firm, cooked and creamy. Allow two ounces per person, and slice your charcuterie into easily manageable, bite-sized pieces.
Spread the pieces out on the board, leaving space between them for accompaniments.
Add mustard, cornichons, olives, or chutney, so the acidity can balance the fat in the charcuterie.
Fresh fruits like grapes, figs, sliced pears, and apples, and any dried fruits like raisins, currants, apricots, cherries, and pears will round out the board, and add color. Use the fruits as palate cleansers between bites of charcuterie.
Place sliced bread, or various types of crackers, around the edges of the board, or tuck them between sections of charcuterie.
Cheese is a welcome addition to a charcuterie board. Choose 2 to 3 types of different textures to complement the spread.
Add truffle butter, which is especially tasty on a slice of bread with dry-cured meats like saucisson sec.
A hearty red wine makes a good accompaniment, such as Côtes-du-Rhône, Gigondas or Madiran.
Types Of Charcuterie To Consider:
Prosciutto: Probably the most recognizable pork offering on the list. Each region of Italy has its own signature recipe and flavor profile, but the most common are from Parma, Tuscany, and San Daniele. Culatello is a boneless cousin of prosciutto with a higher meat-to-fat ration. If you’d like to avoid the fat, Spanish lomo and Italian lonzaare alternatives made with pork loin.
Soppressata: We like to think of soppressata as the adult pepperoni. This salumi is generally made from dry-cured, coarse ground pork with red pepper flakes from Southern Italy, though regional variations do exist.
Finocchiona: Packed with fennel seeds, this skinny Italian salami was first created during the Renaissance. If you’re not a fan of anise, try French saucisson sec, made with garlic and pepper.
Chicken Liver Mousse: This creamy, butter spread is a nice introduction pâté for those who are new to offal.
Pork Rillette: If you love pulled pork then this is for you. This rillette is slow cooked with spices, cut up, often pounded into a paste and topped off with rendered fat.
Speck: This lightly smoked prosciutto comes from Northern Italy. Also, worth getting is guanciale, cut from the jowl, or a spice-cured fatback called lardo.
Chorizo Picante: A Spanish pork salami, chorizo picante is spiced with hot paprika, not to be confused with the fresh chorizo sausages of Latin America.
Coppa: Short for capocollo, coppa is an Italian and Corsican dry-cured pork neck and shoulder salume (capo is Italian for head, while collo means neck). A spicy version is also available.
Duck Rillette: In this rillette, duck leg confit is shredded before being mixed with spices and Armagnac. It’s then crowned with duck fat, which is more delectable and slightly lower in saturated fats than pork.
Mousse du Périgord: A signature creation of Les Trois Petits Cochons, a famed charcuterie formed in New York City’s Greenwich Village, this blend of chicken and turkey livers is infused with herbs and bits of black truffle. Expect a bite that’s silky and smooth, with a top layer of aspic, a meat jelly.
Jamón Ibérico de Bellota: This is where jamon reaches its peak. It’s a Spanish ham where the pigs are allowed to graze acorns and herbs freely, which gives the meat a very unique aroma. A more affordable version is jamón serrano. For a woodsy addition, Bauernschinken is a similar option that’s smoked with juniper.
Bresaola: An air-dried beef round from Northern Italy’s Lombardy region.
Black Truffle Salami: Creminelli offers a tartufo salami that’s delicious. It’s embedded with summer truffles whose flavors and aroma integrate beautifully with the pork.
Rabbit Rillette: Versions of this rillette can be perfumed with juniper, mace and/or thyme. Rabbits aren’t as fatty as other animals, so these are often topped with duck fat.
Pâté de Campagne: Country pâté can be tough for some people because of its visible parts of offal and fat. Trust in a high-quality pâté that showcases beautiful chunks of ham. For an impressive upgrade, try pâté en croûte, a rustic loaf of pâté wrapped in pastry.
Tips For Serving:
Charcuterie can be enjoyed as an appetizer or a meal. If you want prosciutto for breakfast, go for it. For entertaining, charcuterie is a popular option because it can be put together ahead of time and covered with plastic wrap.
Remove all inedible material like twine, cloth, and tough salami casing before slicing.
Cubes are fine for cheese and cold cuts, but chunky charcuterie might be hard to bite or deliver too much salt per portion. Salted cured meats are best sliced thin and served immediately.
When you place charcuterie, drape each slice like you just shaved it yourself. Not only does it look attractive, it keeps each piece separated so that guests won’t struggle to peel them apart.
Choose a flat board or platter so everything can get picked up with tongs or a fork. It’s especially important if anything needs to be sliced, like a loaf of pâté.
Lipped, round serving trays are great if there are jars, small bowls, or ramekins that may be prone to slipping. To prevent small containers from sliding, wet a small cocktail napkin and fold it so it is hidden beneath the container.
Eat sliced meats with your hands, forks, or toothpicks. Don’t forget a knife for the pâté and rillettes.
Have fun with thin sliced meats by wrapping them around melon, asparagus, batons of cheese or grissini.
Since charcuterie tends to be in the red-brown range of the color spectrum, lay down a bed of sturdy greens like arugula as a base. In addition to being visually impressive, it makes cleaning much easier.
Invite cultured butter and cheese to the party. Let butter soften to room temperature so it’s easy to spread. Cheese from the same regions as your meats will complement each other nicely.
“Work With What You Got!”
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