The Magic of Charcuterie
Ahhh…the joys of meat in all of its glory. Charcuterie – both the practice and selling of dried and aged meats but also the serving of a meat-based appetizer (or meal) with proper accompaniments. We see a “Charcuterie Plate” as containing some or all of the following in addition to the meats of your choice:
- Cheese (hard or soft – all good!!)
- Fruits and spreads – typically dried fruit and thicker compotes
- Bread or crackers – a vehicle to not only serve as transportation but to enhance the flavor and eating experience
- Pickles – of all types, not just the cucumber variety
- Other – you can add so many things – like salumi, mustards, smoked fish, etc., making this one of the most customizable food groups
- Beverages – from sparkling waters and ciders (hard or soft) to all types of wines to beer to whiskies – all can be part of the charcuterie experience
Let’s get some of the basics down…
Charcuterie, at its core, is the art of curing and preserving meats. The basics needed are a type of meat (beef, venison, pork, duck, fish, etc.), a curing method (salt, fat, pickling, etc.), space and patience. To learn a bit more about this, check out our web site for a simplified view of the process: https://umaidry.com/pages/learn-how-to-make-cured-charcuterie
Once you have your meat ready (we recommend smaller portions of ~7-8 ounces; allow your charcuterie to dry to about 60% of starting weight), now comes the fun part (okay, it is all fun but at this state you get to be a bit more creative) – creating your menu.
As mentioned above, you can do almost anything you want in terms of creating a charcuterie board. We like variety – so three to five meats, three to four cheeses, two or three sauces (for some reason, honey is a popular condiment for charcuterie – we prefer honeycomb to keep the rustic feel going), a couple of varieties of pickles (vary the heat spectrum a bit to allow for matching intense flavors) and the distribution vehicle(s). We prefer thin slices of artisan bread (the more rustic the better) and/or a lightly flavored cracker. These crackers from Kieran’s Kitchen are sublime: https://bit.ly/3gWZ4Jp.
The art comes from creating your board – and that is sort of up to you. We tend to make individual boards for each guest with the meat and cheese and then offer the accompaniments in family style bowls – but that is totally up to you. Larger boards are pretty cool as well – and can become the centerpiece of any party. We try and avoid having everything sit out too long – who wants to waste all of that great food we spent so long getting ready??
Now, you are ready for beverages. We think the sky is the limit here – have an array of items your guests like. The only time to change it up is if there is a cool match in flavors (a little research is required here) – like bourbons or whiskies – which have become a popular favorite for the home entertainer. Whether straight or on the rocks or even in a Manhattan (recipe here: https://www.liquor.com/recipes/manhattan-2/), this is something to think about.
We prefer wine for the simple reason that wine and cheese go together very well and richer wines (Zinfandel and Syrah) can pair very well with the smoked nature of the meats. Want something lighter? Rose wine has gone from the cheap and nasty (remember White Zinfandel???) to a more sophisticated base grape (some great roses made from Pinot Noir grapes are available) and these are perfect summertime partners to a great charcuterie board.
Now, all you have to do is get your meat ready – and we can help make that happen. Check out our Charcuterie offerings here: https://umaidry.com/collections/charcuterie.