The Charcuterie 411

October 17, 2017

Charcuterie is the ultimate food. A combination of cured meat, cheese, sauces and compotes, olives, nuts and other nibbles, charcuterie makes a brilliant appetizer, or even a light meal.

What is Charcuterie?

Myriam Webster defines 'charcuterie' as 'a delicatessen specializing in dressed meats and meat dishes; also :the products sold in such a shop', But charcuterie has come to represent a delicious and varied array of salami, hams, cheeses, pates and more.

Charcuterie: Appetizer or Meal

A charcuterie board is an excellent choice for an appetizer at any gathering since it lets guests choose what they like, or sample things they've not tried. As a meal charcuterie is a light choice that you can linger over and pick away at while you're watching a movie or enjoying some wine. 

How to Serve Charcuterie

Charcuterie is typically served on a board. A wooden cutting board will do just fine, and a cedar plank for grilling fish will even work in a pinch, provided it's new. A fancy plate or platter is also a nice way to present your selections.

Prepare the meats in a few different ways; get some thinly sliced (get it done at the Co-op deli), others thicker sliced, and cube others into bite-sized chunks. When it comes to cheese, you can present small wedges, slices or cubes. Use tiny bowls or pinch pots with small spoons for extras like honey or relishes but above all, experiment and try to keep things interesting.

What to Pick for a Charcuterie Board

charcuterie2Variety is key for a great charcuterie board. While you can choose absolutely any meats, cheese or salamis you like, there are a few selections that will make your board a standout.

  • a dry salami; such as German salami or cacciatore
  • hot salami like Soppressata or Genoa
  • Prosciutto, very thinly sliced
  • mortadella
  • pate
  • a small wedge of brie
  • Spanish Manchego cheese
  • a creamy blue cheese 

Add other accoutrements:

  • honey
  • compotes, savory jams, preserves or other spreads
  • almonds and walnuts
  • black and green olives, pitted
  • gherkins or other pickles
  • an assortment of crackers and fresh bread

Part of the fun of eating charcuterie is in the presentation, so don't skip making that part special. Roll salamis, or fold sliced cured meat artfully. Fan out cheese slices, or create triangles and interesting shapes. If you let the folks at the Co-op deli help you by handling the slicing, or even giving you some recommendations (and, yes, samples!) you'll have time to get creative with your display. 

There's no right or wrong way to make a charcuterie board. Choose the things you like, or buy just 80-100 grams of some new things to try them out. Assemble it all creatively and you've got the makings of a memorable appetizer or meal.

- Erin

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