Charcuterie – More Than Just a Snack Board
Nothing is more of a party pleaser for both grand galas and cozy gatherings alike than a charcuterie board. Everyone has seen the picture-perfect swirls and whirls of meat, cheese, and accompaniments that have taken over the internet in recent years. But what exactly is charcuterie?
Definition of Charcuterie
“Charcuterie” has become a buzzword that is used to describe seemingly any combination of food items arranged on a platter. But the actual definition is much more specific. “Charcuterie” is derived from the French for “cooked flesh” – but it is used to describe meat, usually pork, that has been prepared and/or preserved in a variety of ways. It is similar to the Italian “salumi” which describes cured meat products. Cheese, while often paired with these meats, is not technically charcuterie.
Types of Charcuterie
Charcuterie and salumi can be divided into several categories: whole muscle, sausage, and spreadable.
Whole muscle charcuterie is just that – made with whole muscle sections that are cured (treated with salts), smoked, dried, or otherwise preserved and typically sliced thin. Expect to see distinct areas of lean meat and buttery fat. Examples of whole muscle charcuterie include prosciutto, bresaola, jamon Ibérico, and guanciale.
Most people are familiar with sausages in some capacity, but there is a wide variety of products that fall under this category. The meat is prepared by grinding either coarsely or finely and is mixed with fat and often (but not always) preserved inside a casing. Sausages can be cooked or raw depending on preparation. Examples include salami, mortadella, soppressata, chorizo, and boudin.
Spreadables are made of meat and fat combined together, like sausages, but unlike sausages they are cooked and made to be spread on bread and crackers. They come in a variety of textures from smooth and creamy to varied and toothsome. Examples include pâté, rillette, and ‘nduja.
Making Your Charcuterie Boards Stand Out
The best charcuterie boards include options from all of these categories – as well as accompanying cheeses, jams, fruits, and other accents that contrast the meats and highlight all of the best flavors.
Let us help you plan the perfect charcuterie board for your next event – our experts can guide you in choosing the best pairings for you and your guests.
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