by Margaret Gittins, Smackerel
FIRST THINGS FIRST: How do you pronounce charcuterie? Simple: Shar-Cute-Tuh- Ree. It just rolls right off the tongue. Now thatyou’ve mastered the pronunciation, let’s dive in.
What is charcuterie? French in origin, charcuterie is a style of cooking that is used to preserve meats through methods like salt curing, brining, and fermenting. The results are delicious meat products like bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, pates, galantine, and roulade, just to name a few. Even though we now have refrigerators to preserve our meats, charcuterie is still a popular method because of the flavor it imparts on meat. Today, most charcuterie boards feature a mix of these cured meats, along with spreads, cheeses, and more.
Variety is the key to a good charcuterie board, so mix and match textures and flavors. Place slices of hard salami alongside delicate, paper thin prosciutto. Include soft and hard cheeses, and don’t be afraid of bolder cheeses, like blue cheese; the stinkier, the better. Most importantly, don’t forget the vegetables. There are many rich, fatty flavors, so include acidic, tangy bites of pickled vegetables such as olives and mustards to cut through the richness. Add dried fruit and nuts for more flavor and texture contrast. Finally, round out the board with slices of crusty bread and/or crackers.
How to Set the Perfect Charcuterie Plate
- Start with a large plate, platter, wooden cutting board, or a piece of slate as the base.
- Choose at least three to five 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. Use small bowls for these items, or just put them on the board with knives for spreading.
- Fresh fruits like grapes, figs, sliced pears and apples, and dried fruits like raisins, currants, apricots, cherries, and pears will round out the plate 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 plate, or tuck them between sections of charcuterie.
- Cheese is a welcome addition to a charcuterie plate; choose two to three types of different textures to complement the spread.
Make it local!
Cache Valley is for the foodies! Use these local additions to make your charcuterie delicious and the perfect party appetizer.
SLIDE RIDGE HONEY Wine Vinegar is derived from fermented honey and slow aged through a traditional vinegar process. Their methods create a rich, fullflavored vinegar with the sweetness of the original honey and the strength and flavor of hand-crafted vinegar.
CRUMB BROTHERS offers delicious European-style pastries, croissants, scratch soups, and sandwiches. Their crusty breads are perfect for a charcuterie.
CURED small-batch bacon starts from pork bellies grown here in Cache Valley. Made in small batches, they use a dry cure (instead of a brine bath) that takes a couple of weeks instead of the standard couple of days. The result? A bacon that has better flavor and texture and cooks up nicely.
For more than 100 years, BLUEBIRD CANDY has been creating the finest hand-dipped candies. Their salty and sweet candy centers are made daily and will melt in your mouth.
ROCKHILL CHEESE produces hand-crafted cheese made from the milk of six Brown Swiss cows on a historic farm in Richmond. The cheeseis softer and creamier when young and gets harder and more complex with age.
GOSSNER’S FOODS, also known as “the little Switzerland of the Rockies” offers award-winning cheese and cheese spreads. Add them to your board to eat with crackers, breads, meats, and jellies. When you stop in, don’t forget to pick up some boxed milk
LEE’S MARKETPLACE’S candy shop offers house-made Bavarian candied nuts that add texture and a sweet treat to your charcuterie.
COX’S HONEYLAND offers local, pure honey in three flavors and many varieties of creamed honey. Their honey comes in beautiful beehive jars, that will look lovely in your charcuterie setting.
Most people think of blazing hot peppers when they think of jalapenos, but SWEETLY DIVINE has transformed them into finger-licking sweet jellies that can be spread on or mixed into nearly anything to create new and original dishes.