You will notice a trend on menus these days and it’s called Charcuterie. Charcuterie is especially popular in farm to table restaurants where traditional foods are served. So, that begs the question: What the Heck is Charcuterie? And Why You Need it at Your Next Party!
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Let’s Talk Charcuterie!
Charcuterie is the culinary art of preparing meat products such as bacon, salami, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, ballotines, pâtés, and confit. Someone that prepares charcuterie is called a Charcutier. So why is charcuterie suddenly all the rage?
Well as the Saying Goes “Everything Old is New Again”.
Like many traditional foods that are making a comeback, charcuterie is a culinary art developed from necessity; it is the way meats were preserved long before the days of refrigeration. And just like pickles, fermented vegetables, home drafted beer, broth and kombucha, charcuterie has been revived and brought front and center by the traditional food movement. And in my humble opinion front and center is exactly where it deserves to be.
What To Expect When You Order Charcuterie at a Restaurant:
Generally when served in a restaurant charcuterie is presented as an appetizer on a board alongside artisan cheese and nuts.
How To Make It Your Own For A Party:
The fabulous thing about serving charcuterie at your own party is that there are no rules! You can keep it as simple as you like (just the cured meats maybe?) or dress it up with fresh or dried fruits, a variety of artisan breads and crackers, olives, spreads like honey, preserves or jams! You can also keep it budget friendly by setting out a small plate or go all out with a huge platter!
Charcuterie is Perfect for The Holidays:
Putting together a charcuterie board is a snap which is why it is perfect for holiday parties. Just visit the specialty department in your grocery store and pick and choose what looks amazing and then set it on a board! Honestly when something is this easy and delicious why would you make anything else? That said, if you aren’t sure you can arrange a platter as esthetically pleasing as mine I have some tips for you! Click—> How To Make a Holiday Charcuterie Platter!
Make it A Meal!
Charcuterie doesn’t have to be relegated to the appetizer category. Every time I order charcuterie at a restaurant I would say to my husband “If this just came with a salad it would be the perfect easy meal. So voila! I came up with my own Salad and Charcuterie Board (<— click!) for an easy, delicious, filling meal when I don’t want to cook!
The Recipe and Serving Suggestions:
What you will need: not much! A serving board (I love this farmhouse style board or this round board and these pretty cheese knives! I use a grill pan to grill the baguette and love Marcona almonds, and use Adriatic fig spread on the goat cheese! It’s amazing!
Putting together a charcuterie board is a snap which is why it is perfect for holiday parties. Just visit the specialty department in your grocery store and pick and choose what looks amazing and then set it on a board! This isn't exactly a recipe, but more a guide and list of ideas that might inspire you. Remember, you can't go wrong.
- prosciutto, salami, pepperoni, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, ballotines, pâtés etc...
- The cheese is my favorite part! I LOVE aged hard cheeses like gouda, cheddar and Manchego, but I also love soft cheeses like chevre and brie. The beauty of the board is you can mix it up to fit everyone's taste! And if you're unsure, ask the people behind the cheese counter at your local store!
- Add dried mango, apricots or dates to your platter as well as fresh fruits like grapes, sliced apples, pears, berries or melon. For the holidays: pomegranate seeds, fresh figs and persimmons add a festive touch! Of course all sliced veggies are welcome aboard and adding an assortment flavorful olives and pickles brings a nice salty element to the board.
- If you watch the carbs, you can skip these entirely and still have a fabulous board. But if you choose to include them, go for artisan breads and gourmet crackers with different shapes, textures and flavors to keep things interesting! I love Leslie Stow Crackers...and she makes some gluten free! Of course a toasted baguette is always a winner but bread sticks work too.
- Set honey or honeycomb right on the platter or place in a small dish. Dab a generous amount of Adriatic fig or other fruit spread on top of a log of goat cheese for spreading on bread and crackers. Set out a plate of olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping bread!
- Go big or go home, dried salted nuts are great but I also encourage you to try Marcona almonds, spicy nut/seed mixes, caramelized nuts and even chocolate covered nuts or raisins.
- To complete your board add greens like lettuce leaves, basil, rosemary sprigs or thyme!
MAY I PLEASE ASK A LITTLE FAVOR?
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OHHH Linda! I love this. What a lovely post. We do something similar to this on New Year’s Eve. It is one of my most favorite meals of the year! This is beautiful!
Where have you been able to get your meats uncured and not filled with nitrates/nitrites?? I’ve been looking for gift basket options for my FIL that LOVES meat and cheese platters but CAN NOT bring myself to sending him toxic loaded cured meat baskets! 🙁 Trying to find other ideas/resources as we literally live in the Mojave Desert-HOURS away from any reputable place to purchase said cured meats…so internet shopping is my only real option.
Thanks for your help!!
Hi Tatum:) If you live in a ‘food desert” online shopping may be your best bet. I buy my charcuterie at Whole Foods Market which has some nitrate free options. That said I don’t worry about nitrates as much as I used to since the original study that first raised concerns was discredited. You may find this article interesting https://chriskresser.com/the-nitrate-and-nitrite-myth-another-reason-not-to-fear-bacon If you are still worried I would stick with ordering online. Sometimes that is simply the best bet! Good luck!
Trader Joe’s! Much better prices than Whole Foods.
Thanks Seattle Taste! I do love Trader Joe’s and yes the prices are great! It just so happened that day I was at WF’s:)
Mmmmm, you are making me HUNGRY!
That platter looks amazing! I want everything on it for lunch today. I love the addition of the honeycomb too.
Good to know. I have read about the process of curing meats, but I actually didn’t know that terminology. Side note: your photos are amazing! Great post 🙂
What a beautiful charcuterie board, thanks for the thorough explanation of this interesting culinary inspiration!
So…. I’m coming over. 🙂 I love feasts like this and they are so pretty!
Oh, this looks lovely! I especially love the honeycomb, nice addition! 🙂
I find it interesting and wonderful that nitrates have been vindicated. And I also read recently how pork is better for us when it is cured in some way. Those preservation techniques ALWAYS seem to have a dual purpose!!! Love that. Well, this feast surely resonates in every way … and not surprisingly those on healing diets can eat most of these foods as long as they’re sourced well. Thanks for sharing this bounteous beauty!!!
Agreed Megan! Maybe I will add that link to my post!
This looks so fancy, yet you make it look easy enough that even I can do it! Charcuterie is definitely one of my faves. Thanks for the ideas!
Beautiful! It’s one of my favorite things! I catered a party last weekend and we did a big table of charcuterie. Not only does it look beautiful, it’s delicious and just plain fun!!!
Looking forward to serving my own version of Charcuterie as appetizer before stuffed pork with Cranberry mustard, Cheesed shred potatoes, Salad, and cranberry walnut bread. And what would this kind of dinner be without desert: chocolate mousse with cranberry/white chocolate biscotti and some delicious coffee.
My local grocery store has opened a new huge deli section and advertise Charcuterie and I was wondering what it meant. Thanks for the info. Sounds like a great idea for the holidays.
Nice! Lucky you! And yes so perfect for the holidays!
I see some of the posts are from 2014, but the trend for charcuterie is going to be found at Disney Springs in 2018 at a new wine bar. While shopping over the past year, I have noticed an increase in marble and wooden boards which lend themselves to excellent presentations of food items found in this genre of food. The somalier there will likely offer wonderful pairings of the food with wines …even non-wine drinkers may find the perfect paring of charcuterie foods with wine to bring out flavor st hey never experienced before. Very exciting
Thanks for the info! Sounds great!
I’ve been wanting to do a charcuterie board for the longest, I will be doing one in two weeks and can’t wait, im so excited.
Great! I am sure you’ll rock it!
Love the images! Just gorgeous. This is what I’m taking to my in laws as a door drop gift..since we aren’t socializing this year. I hope they Love it as much as we do in our home. And thank you for inspiration!! Some things I hadn’t considered. Thank you, it’s so lovely!!
That is a really nice idea! Very sweet of you. I am sure they will love it!
What an excellent explanation. The pictures tell it all and now I have something to refer to. Thanks for explaining the meaning so well. This is a really good reference.