When it comes to throwing a party for close friends or semi-fancy get-togethers, you can’t lose by putting together the ultimate snack tray. In this case, we’re going to tell you a little something about Charcuterie platters. If you’ve never heard of this before, this is going to be more than your average instructional food explanation to recreate this great restaurant-style platter.
What is a Charcuterie board?
You’ve heard of cheese platters, snack trays, and party-snack spreads, but what the heck is a Charcuterie board? First of all the proper pronunciation sounds more like Shahr-ku-tuh-ree and is very specific to one type of party snack. In this case, it’s all about having a large selection of cured meats, dried meats, and meaty treats. All of these are arranged onto an oversized cutting board that you would use for slicing a big turkey.
There’s no rule on how large this board is supposed to be, so depending on the size of your group, you can go as big as you can provide. Some Charcuterie boards are as large as a coffee table and can be rounded or rectangular. One thing that you do need to understand is what makes a Charcuterie board specific to its namesake. It’s actually French and originates from the butcher shop.
More accurately, this translates into a general term that describes a Pork Butcher, but has also been related to butchers that salt, dry, and create prepared meats. It doesn’t specifically apply to only pork products and is a lot closer to delicatessen-style meats. If you’ve seen the selection of meats at any decent Italian or French deli, you’ll know where this is going.
What are the best choices of meat for Charcuterie boards?
You’ll be perfectly fine with dried meats including salami, prosciutto, sausage, and chorizo but you can also get into more exotic varieties such as Casalingo sausage, soppressata, Saucisson, and many other salt-cured variants. Don’t forget that pate and terrines make an excellent addition to your charcuterie board. The addition of roulade and galantine helps round out the poached and gelatin-filled items that are welcome sights likewise.
There is also another type of meat that is mixed into a pate-like consistency called Forcemeat and is typically a must for serious Charcuterie board enthusiasts. These can include mixtures with pork and pork fat mixed with any combination of meat including fish, shellfish, game meat, veal, and/or bird. If you’ve heard of Boudin, this is pork and rice mixed with chicken liver and many other Cajun favorites are a great choice to add.
Honestly, if you enjoy any of these prepared meats, they’ll need to be sliced and added to your Charcuterie board. There’s no going wrong with trying new things since this assortment of meats is all about variety. Of course, this is only the beginning with this platter so you’ll want to include every except the kitchen sink on this cornucopia of meaty flavored goodness.
What About Cheese?
There used to be a great commercial on TV back in the 90s about what people do when they win the State lottery. One of them in particular has a guy shopping in a supermarket and stopping by the deli section and remarking how he could totally buy all of that cheese! And when it comes to mixing and matching, there is no limit to what you should include. Many examples include soft cheese, hard cheese, brie cheese, and goat cheese.
If you want to include creamy cheese dips that make excellent spreads that are perfect on your plate. If you can swing this decadent splurge, be sure to add ad many varieties of cheese on your list as you can. This allows you to have a palate cleanser in between all the flavors of meats you’ll eat and enhances the taste of many meat slices for every bite.
As usual, you can include crackers, toasted bread, breadsticks, baguettes, French bread, multigrain bites, and obviously those fancy European dried toast bread. You can add sweet Fette Biscotatte and biscotti if you like, there’s no reason you shouldn’t! In fact, you should also add a generous variety of trimmings that will be perfect decorative items like:
Dried fruits, fresh fruits, and nuts
The sky is the limit here, so anything that you enjoy or is requested needs to nestle onto your Charcuterie board. The more the merrier!
Olives and other pickled favorites
If you love little mini peppers, olives, cornichons (gherkin pickles), baby corn, and even stuffed pickled peppers, this adds just the right amount of acidity to this selection. Don’t forget to grab all the varieties of Bruno’s peppers or spicy jalapenos if you enjoy the rush of hot and spicy treats.
Think about adding baby carrots, broccoli sprigs, celery sticks, cauliflower, radish roses, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, string beans, snap peas, bell pepper, cucumber, sliced turnip sticks, and everything else that adds plenty of color and crunch.
Marmalade and jam
Don’t knock it until you try it since sweet flavors often pair perfectly with dried meats and sausages. Think about how chocolate and bacon go great together.
Hummus and other dips
If you thought these mashed chickpea dips were only great with pita bread, you would be dead wrong. You can add salsa, Pico de Gallo, Tzatziki sauce, guacamole, and anything you enjoy putting as a topping or dipping into while you eat.
Caviar, smoked salmon, and smoked oysters
Let’s just say that you can also get a bit fancy with your fishier friends if you add some affordable caviar or smoked salmon. If you prefer sardines, smoked oysters, freshly shelled oysters on the half shell, or any kind of pickled fish, this is completely your choice. There’s absolutely no reason why you wouldn’t consider these ocean-going treats.