Char·cu·te·rie, pronounced “SHärˈkoo͞ dərē”, is a French term for an assortment of cold, cooked meats…
Charcuterie boards are as popular as ever and reaching new heights. They are not just an easy appetizer for a party of two or twenty, but have become beautiful works of art to be shown off and admired. It’s all in the presentation…
I like to start with the board itself. A regular cutting board pulled out of the cabinet can turn into a beautiful piece of art housed with fine meats, fruit, and cheeses. A slab of slate works very well too along with marble or porcelain platters.
Choosing your cheese is based on personal preference. There are a wide variety of cheeses with different tastes and textures. A combination of aged (Cheddar or Gouda), firm (Parmigiano-Reggiano), soft and creamy (Brie or Mozzarella), crumbly (Goat or Feta) or salty Blue and Gorgonzola will make a well-rounded variety and satiate any palette. Tip: use an odd number of cheeses and meats- three or five of each, depending on the crowd, and plan on about 2 ounces of cheese and meat per person. Cheese should be served at room temperature.
Begin by arranging the largest items first. Groups of whole roasted or grilled vegetables or bunches of grapes, cheese wedges or wheels can be strategically placed around the board. Fill in with small bowls of jams, truffle honey, bruschetta, pepper jelly, whole-grain mustards, pesto, EVOO, hummus, olives and nuts (Marcona Almonds are a favorite). Don’t forget the the small spoons, spreaders, and cheese knives.
Next, arrange the slices and ribbons of meat. These dried, cured meats include prosciutto, speck, chorizo, salami, capicola (or coppa) and sopressata. Arrange different crackers or sliced French baguettes. Tip: Dip the baguettes in EVOO and broil.
To top it off, add colorful garnishes and sprigs of fresh herbs (rosemary, chives, lavender, and oregano), and small skewers of whole fruits (blueberries strawberries or slices of apples). Add edible flowers (nasturtium, orchids and pansies) for an aesthetically pleasing presentation. The possibilities are endless and each board truly is a work of art.
Champagnes and sparkling wines are often considered a nice pairing with charcuterie boards due to the high acidity and lower alcohol content. Rustic reds (Cabernet, Malbec, Petit Syrah, Zinfandel) with bold tannins pair well with Speck and Smoky Hams. Lighter to medium reds, such as a Pinot Noir, is perfect with a French-style pork. Even whites, a Reisling, Chenin Blanc, Moscato or an Oaky Chardonnay, pair well with a good Soupy and Brie!
In true Mystical Living fashion, we love to feature local businesses. Block+Bottle opened in Spring of 2021 and is located in the Standard Building (3 Water Street) in beautiful downtown Mystic. Dine in or take out, you can build your own charcuterie board accompanied by fine wines, beer and cocktails. The cheeses and meats and other ingredients are artisanal, local and seasonal. Enjoy!