Get the right mix of salty & sweet for the perfect platter
Ok, don’t roll your eyes at this one (not yet, anyway) on how to build a perfect charcuterie board.
How to build a perfect charcuterie board
A charcuterie board is a brilliant way to serve up a starter.
And you really don’t have to do much cooking… ok, any.
Sure, it’s not hard to put a board of food on the table.
But you don’t want to be left with an untouched charcuterie board.
So, the key, as always, is quality, not quantity.
There are just a few simple rules, I thought worth sharing,
Where did it originate?
Charcuterie was originally used as a way to preserve meat before refrigeration came along.
Pork would be transformed into bacon, ham, sausages and terrines, ready for storing through winter.
In 15th century France charcuterie was considered peasant food.
And as always, has become elevated and something enjoyed by all nowadays.
The various names given to these meats represent the cut of meat as well as the processing and curing styles.
Which also, tend to be named by their geographical region, each one producing a distinctive flavour and texture.
6 tips on how to build the perfect charcuterie board
It comes down to a few basics.
Which include, getting the right balance of salty and sweet flavours.
And using colours and textures to really serve a ‘wow’ platter.
Mix and match different textures of food.
So, add a mix of things like hard salami, soft pâté, maybe a spicy sausage, creamy and firm cheeses, chewy dried fruits, and crunchy crackers and nuts.
The more textures the better.
As I mentioned, quality of quantity.
Especially as some meats can be a bit weighty on the wallet.
But apparently, the rule of thumb is to include something:
- pre-sliced like cured meat,
- that can be sliced on the board like a hard salami,
- you can spread like a pâté.
3. Antipasti and condiments
So, this is how to tart up the platter with colour and more textures.
Which means you can add things like fresh or dried fruits, nuts, pickled vegetables, olives, mustard, quince paste, jams, stuffed mini peppers, pickles etc
4. Crackers and bread
Definitely add some nice bread and or crackers.
(Plus, it bulks it out a bit if you’re worried about the amount needed)
It’s worth plating up your platter and hour before you serve it.
You want everything at room temperature.
6. Wine pairing
Don’t forget, wine will always help make a charcuterie board even better!
So, check out Michael Sutton’s Cellar some earthy reds like a Pinot Noir, or bolder reds to cut through fat flavours.
Or if you’re like me, a nice glass of Champagne makes it even more special!
How do I know how much charcuterie I need?
Personally, it depends on what you’re serving for their main course.
But for me, I usually go for a simple, hearty, one-pan meal.
So, I don’t want (or need) to over-do the charcuterie.
It’s just a nice way to welcome people and get everyone chatting and comfortable.
But, if you’re still worried about ‘how much to plate up?’
Then I found on t’internet, that approx. 50g pp on a mixed board i.e. crackers, bread, cheese, olives as well as your meats.
Types of charcuterie to help build your charcuterie board
Salami is traditionally made with pork meat, but some varieties may be made with beef, venison, poultry or other meats.
It’s a blend of fat, herbs and seasonings and there are all sorts of incredible styles (including those not from Italy).
- Napoli – a more coarsely ground salami with black peppercorns
- Veneto – a soft and fragrant salmi flavoured with garlic and wine
- Spianata Calabrese – classic hot and spicy salami from Calabria, with a traditional crushed shape.
- Ventricina – coarse ground and seasoned with pepper, ground pepperoncino chillies and paprika
- Genoa – is hard, dry-cured meat from the Genoa region of Italy that is typically made of pork, salt, garlic, pepper, fennel seeds, and wine.
- Finocchiona – is a spicy Tuscan speciality that is dry-cured and made with fennel seeds and black pepper.
- Milanese – or Milano Salami, is made with a combination of pork and beef, and rice-sized grains of pork fat and is bright red in colour and sweeter than Genoa salami.
- Salami Cotto – a speciality of the Piedmont region of Italy, is a variety of Salami that is cooked before or after curing and is seasoned with garlic and peppercorns.
- Soppressatan– one of the most well-known types of Italian Salami, is a dry-cured, pressed pork Salami. The ingredients, flavour, and texture of Soppressata vary based on the region in which it is made, with flavours that range from sweet to savoury, enhanced by seasonings of garlic, peppers, fennel, oregano or basil.
Types of Non-Italian Salami
- French – Saucisson Sec is what the French call their Salami. Sometimes it’s with things like dried fruits, wine or cheese.
- German – traditionally made with a mixture of pork and beef and seasoned with garlic and spices, and is typically higher in fat than other salamis.
- Spanish called salchichon, is a spicy salami made with finely ground pork and beef and seasoned with peppercorns.
Other Italian cured meats
- Prosciutto – this is what Italians call ham and can be cooked (Prosciutto Cotto) or air-dried (Prosciutto Crudo).
- Parma ham – (Prosciutto di Parma) is probably the best-known type of Prosciutto Crudo.
- Lardo di Colonnata – So, if you’ve read my recent 3 (very tasty) starters post, you will have come across lardo.
- On paper, it sounds awful. But it’s incredible.
- So, you can buy lardo from butchers or good Deli’s (online as well). Served very, very thinly sliced on your charcuterie board. Or on your tomato and basil bruschetta.
- Guanciale (pronounced gwun-charlie) – comes from the jowl or cheek of the pig. I haven’t tried this yet but it’s meant to be delicious.
- Robustly flavoured meat is usually seasoned on the surface with salt, pepper, sage, rosemary and garlic.
- Coppa – made from the shoulder and neck cuts of a pig. Rubbed with salt and left to dry cure for several weeks or more.
- Coppa is seasoned with paprika, pepper, garlic and other spices then dried or cold smoked to promote moisture loss.
- Bresaola – cured lean meat made with beef from the Lombardy region.
Charcuterie board, done
So, there you have it!
How to build a perfect, delicious charcuterie board isn’t hard.
But it’s good to get a few insights on how to make your platter look delicious and inviting.
And not, dragged out from the back of the fridge or cupboard (I’m sure we’ve all done that).