You’re going to a party. Or you’re hosting one. Or maybe the big game is on in a couple of hours (goooo Brewers and Packers!) and you want a little somethin’ somethin’ to nosh on that doesn’t require a lot of blood, sweat and tears in the kitchen.
I’ve got you covered, friends.
Compose a charcuterie tray. “Oh, that sounds way too fancy!” you say. Here’s a secret: a charcuterie (shar-coo-ter-ree) is just a froo-froo spin on a meat and cheese platter. (Foodie note: Yes, I understand I’m oversimplifying this centuries-old French culinary art form.) The best part? It’s super impressive to serve and super easy to make. #winwin.
THAT charcuterie board picture at the top of this post is one my sister-in-law assembled for the fam last Christmas. Although the rest of us cooked our collective tuckuses off, making labor-of-love dishes like beef empanadas and arancini, her collection of savory meats, salty cheeses and other nibbles received more “oohs” and “aahs” than the rest of us combined. Show off. (I say that in the most affectionate way possible.)
Here’s one that I threw (and I use that term quite literally) together before my kids’ family birthday party…
It took me 15 minutes to assemble. And it was the first thing to go. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure I even got any!
Okay, so to help a sista/brutha out, I’m giving you a list of must-haves for your next charcuterie board. The only hard-and-fast rule when it comes to making one? Use or don’t use whatever you damn well please.
Meats: Prosciutto, chunks of dry-cured salami, crispy bacon, spicy soppressata, Serrano ham, pepperoni, thinly sliced beef tenderloin, thinly sliced Black Forest ham.
Cheeses: Aged cheddar (get the good stuff), gouda, fresh mozzarella, brie, harvarti, Manchego, chunk parmesan (I love Sartori as they have a huge selection of kicked-up parms, such as balsamic, espresso and citrus) and a good stinky blue or something similar. If you can find it, Humboldt Fog by Cypress Grove Chevre is the bomb-diggity.
Something sweet: Fruit butters like fig, jams, honey, compotes and chutneys (make your own like this Spice-Spiked Apple Compote or check your local upscale grocery for options that require only unscrewing a lid); fresh apples, melon, pears, berries and grapes; dried fruits like apricots and figs; candied nuts.
Something tangy: Mustard, pickles, cured olives (again, the good ones..not the black mushy ones out of a can), roasted red peppers, cherry tomatoes, mariniated artichokes, spring pea spread, tart dried cherries.
Something crunchy: Roasted nuts, crostini, breadsticks and crackers.
Something fresh: Fresh rosemary springs or bunches of fresh basil and/or edible flowers like nasturtium, pansies or squash blossoms.
Arrange it all on a pretty board or platter—a circle of wood, a marble slab, a slate board, a porcelain platter (in white so your delicious accrotrements really pop) or whatever you can scrounge up. Place liquidy items in martini glasses or small white bowls so they don’t make a mess of of your beautiful charcuterie board.
All you have to do is set it out, stand a safe distance back, grab a glass of wine and smile as you watch your guests get their glutton on. ‘Cause meat + cheese = happy.
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