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An Edible Journey with Charcuterie

Posted by Theology of Home on
An Edible Journey with Charcuterie

By Emily Malloy

There are very few food items more welcoming than a board brimming with charcuterie (pronounced shar-koo-tuh-ree). Trendy it may be, but it has deep roots in the culinary world. Cured meats, jellies, dried fruits, and fermented vegetables are methods through which food has been preserved for ages.

When gathered onto a large board, these ingredients take on a new personality as the experimentation of food pairings enhance each individual food in a new way.

Varying combinations enable each person to become his or her own culinary genius. A little of this with a pinch of that. Onto a second helping: perhaps the same that with a new this to create an entirely different edible experience. Trendy, yes, but for good reason. 

The presentation, though guaranteed to impress, is surprisingly simple to create. There are a handful of guidelines to aid in the composition, but the reality is that when it comes to making a charcuterie board: the world is your oyster! 

The most common ways of building your board are by picking a variety of the ingredients below: 

Meats: (Pre-sliced options are very helpful) salami, prosciutto, pepperoni, ham, the list is endless... Placing unsliced meats onto your board also create a beautiful depth in the display. Hard salamis, smoked sausages, sopressata, capicola all are able to fall into this category. 

Cheeses: Most commonly, whole sections of cheese are displayed with cheese knives available for the guests to do their own slicing. With softer cheeses, it is often your best bet to leave it whole. You can choose any variety of cheeses, but it's safest to offer a variety of soft and hard cheeses with flavors varying from sharp to strong. Hard cheeses like manchego, gouda, or cheddar work well. Common soft cheeses used are brie and goat cheese (or chevre).

Accompaniments: Filling out the board with fruit and vegetables that play a tremendous supporting role in enhancing different notes in your meats and cheeses is a great way to create depth to your charcuterie board. Dried fruits like apricots, dates, or citrus. Fresh fruits like sliced apples and grapes are always great choices. Also offering fermented items such as pickles and olives add a terrific element. Nuts and seeds are also fun to sprinkle around the assortment.
Bread: Offering an assortment of crackers and breads is a great (and inexpensive) way to fill out your charcuterie board. Try a few varieties (and perhaps some fun artisan types) to enhance the main players on your board. Bread can also be completely omitted if you so choose. It is my personal preference to slice a grape or an apple and place the cheese and meats directly on top!
Spread-ables: Making available fruit spreads and honeys really take the charcuterie board to a new level. After experiencing a truffle honey drizzled on top of a beautiful blue cheese, you'll completely understand what I mean. Fig or apricot preserves are popular choices for spreads to pair with a lovely brie. If you have bread available, oils and vinegars are wonderful options for dipping.
Garnishes: Filling up any holes with fresh herbs creates a beautifully finished look. Chive blooms, basil, parsley, sage, or dill are great options.

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