There will always be at least one day in my week when – by choice or necessity – I reach for a wooden board and fill it up with all our favourites….
Charcuterie – The culinary art of assembling cured meats and cheeses.
Fast – for your busy life.
Portable – for the outdoor enthusiast in you.
Classy – for the host extraordinaire.
You can’t go wrong with this meal choice, and you can’t mess it up either. While there are some basics to consider you can create your own variations.
Here are some ideas on how to start:
Meats: This is your base. Charcuterie translates from French as cooked flesh.
Start with cured meats like sausages, salami, prosciutto, bresaola, pancetta, pastrami; baked capocollo and mortadella. I love including pate choices as well. Shop at specialty food stores for a good variety of high-quality products.
Cheeses: Soft or hard, mild and sharp, aged and fresh – choose variety (cow, sheep, goat) and contrasting flavours; try for local products whenever possible. Some of my favourites are soft goat cheese, aged cheddar, triple cream brie cheese, manchego and blue cheese.
Breads: Sliced baguette, asiago ciabatta, French sourdough, raisin-pecan rye, crunchy crostini, crackers – plain or with nuts & dried fruits. Include gluten-free options like rice crackers.
Fruits: Pear and grapes are staples but any fruit will add its delicious sweetness and juiciness to elevate the experience. These will also add some colour to your board presentation. Don’t be afraid to incorporate dried fruit or preserves and jams, especially in winter. Our favourite is Chipotle peach jelly.
There are so many options like honey, mustard, olives, bruschetta, pickles, nuts, aged balsamic vinegar and more. Try high-quality olive oil with balsamic glaze as a dipping option for your breads.
In my Slovak culture, we call charcuterie ‘denko’ which simply means wooden board. I prefer using wooden boards to platters as I like my guests to cut the meats and cheeses themselves once the precut pieces are all eaten up. I include knives for cutting, small spoons and forks for jellies and spreads, mini tongs for olives that are served in small bowls and let everyone have fun creating their own bites.
I always make sure there are ‘denko’ supplies in our fridge and pantry.
For my family – I know our favourites and I stick to those, but for guests I put out a variety for each category so everyone can find what they like and have fun experimenting with different tastes and pairings.
Bonne appetite and cheers,
Dana Kosalko Harris