What is Charcuterie you ask?
Well it’s the art of cured meats! Which just so happens to have been one of my favorite things I did in culinary school. It is certainly a labor of love and takes a patient person. But Charcuterie has become known for meaning an assortment of cured meats, cheeses and toasts. It happens to be one of my favorite things as well, nothing beats a well-made charcuterie board.
Charcuterie Boards don’t take a genius to make, they are super simple but it’s also something you might want to put some thought into as well. You don’t want to serve just any cheese and meat you want to make sure your playing with textures, flavors and parings.
So, let’s start with the cheese!
I like to serve at least 4 different types of cheese I typically go for: a soft creamy cheese like a Brie, a good blue cheese like a Blue Fog, a hard cheese like a Pecorino and usually an herbed goat cheese. And if I’m really getting into my board I’ll add some sort of smoked cheese as well. I think this variety is definitely something to aim for when picking out cheeses.
Just like cheese I like to have a variety as well. I usually always have the staples like a Genoa Salami, Prosciutto or Speck, a cured Chorizo is always a hit and a fine pepperoni will really set of your board. And if you really want to go big a Sacucisson is my favorite, it’s basically a French style salami.
Fruit, Yup you need some fruit!
Fruits add a great sweet pop of flavor to your board. It’s quite amazing how something sweet can pair so well with a rich cheese and spicy cured meat. I like to always have some sort of jam on my board, like a tart raspberry of cherry jam. You want a jam that is dense concentrated in flavor so don’t go to the peanut butter aisle and pick up your favorite Smuckers Jam, don’t do it! Try getting a gourmet jam from Whole Foods instead. I also like to add fresh grapes and maybe a dried fruit like apricots, delish!
Get a little nutty!
Nuts are also a must on a board. My favorite nut to add is Salted Marcona Almonds. Man, those are amazing! Just be sure to add a nut that has been flavored, meaning salted, roasted or candied.
Olives and Pickles.
Olives and pickles and a great brine flavor to the board which helps break up the richness. I like to have some sort of stuffed olive on my board. I’m not a huge olive fan so often times I omit them and have mini dill pickles instead.
Crackers are a must! But don’t be serving Ritz crackers or Triscuits ya’ll, NO! You want at least two different types of crackers for your board. Go with a great Oatcake Cracker, trust me once you have them you will crave them. And some sort of whole grain cracker or a sourdough cracker is always a good choice,
Don’t forget the wine!
Wine can take your Charcuterie board to the next level. I generally serve my boards with a Sauvignon Blanc, I feel that the minerality of a Savignon Blanc cuts the richness. My favorite Sauvignon Blanc comes from Marlbrough New Zealand, Matua makes a great one. And for the red wine loves I like to have my favorite Pinot Noir, I prefer a Pinot for the Willamette Valley Oregon.
All of these things make up a perfect Charcuterie board. Don’t be afraid to changes things ups with different types of cheeses, meats and wines. And if you’re really going balls to the wall get cheeses from different countries and make little signs so you guests know where they are from, it’s always fun to compare the differences.