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Building Your Best Charcuterie; This Category of Cooking is Quick, Easy, and Portable

Jul 31, 2020 12:41PM ● By Gabrielle Varela
Charcuterie; the word itself is a bit intimidating but this category of cooking is quick, easy, portable and allows for lots of variety. With the help of Rachel Boyk of Provisions International and Dave Barrette, chef, and owner of Main Street Kitchens, here is your guide to building a charcuterie board that will be sure to wow hungry guests at every get-together.

What You’ll Need

Right from the start, you have options. Large cutting boards, marble slabs, ceramic platters, basically any flat surface with room to build. Barrette suggests JK Adams, a company that specializes in high quality, handcrafted wooden boards and kitchen products. As for dishware, he loves the cheese knife set by Out of the Woods Of Oregon for clean and simple slicing and spreaders from Tovolo. For those oh-so-good-and-goey jams and mustards, he encourages mini jam cups by Fortessa. You can find them here or at his shop in Hanover.

Choose your players

The French word charcuterie (shar-coo-tree) translates to “pork butcher shop” and while the origin refers to pork, charcuterie has evolved into a fun way to prepare and arrange cured meats, cheeses, and other snacks into an artful spread. Depending on how large the board is, 2-5 different options will do with a couple of ounces per person. Here, the focus is on flavor. Arrange contrast for balance and variety. Think spicy chorizo next to silky prosciuttos, tannic dry-cured red wine sausage next to rich, luxurious lardo.

Side Pieces

“Play with tastes and textures,” says Boyk. “You’ve got your different meats and cheeses, throw something nutty, an olive, something fruity (dried or jammy), a cracker/bread; any variation on this theme and you’re good!”

Barrette suggests a blue cheese like the subtle and approachable Bayley Hazen paired with jam like the Blake Hill Cherry Jam and some walnuts for salt and crunch; goat cheeses with honeycomb and dried apricots; harder, earthier cheeses like Tarentaise with a cheer-y blueberry Jam and Marcona almonds. “Pair bright, acidic cornichons, pickled shallots, or olives to cut the fat of the charcuterie and edible flowers or berries for color,” instructs Barrette.

In your Glass

Similar to building what is on the board, beverages that compliment the flavors on the board and the season are key to successful pairing. A light and fresh rośe will bring out the flavor of cold, cured meats. Crisp Lagers and Pilsners will tame the spiciness of salami and accentuate the saltiness of prosciutto. Cream ales or fun and fruity IPAs for the more robust meats and harder cheeses. Whiskey or scotch is great for smoothing out the flavors of funky cheeses like Harbison by Jasper Hill or Middlebury Blue by Blue Ledge Farm.


What’s on your board? 

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