Pairing & Serving Charcuterie
Charcuterie (shahr-cute-uh-ree) is a French word, originally derived from the words “flesh” (chair) and “cooked” (cuit). The term charcuterie was used to designate shops in 15th century France that sold smoked, dry-cured or cooked meat. These owners, charcutiers, would hang inventory in their shop windows to draw customers in. It worked: The craft was mastered, and a culture was born.
Charcuteries is not uniquely French, it’s been around for centuries and every culture has different methods for preserving meat, In Italy, for example, a plate of cured meats is called “salumi,” and in France it is called “charcuterie.” Both can be produced from a whole cut of meat and can contain a mixture of spices, herbs and sausage-style ground/chopped meats. The curing process is different for each type of meat, but it generally involves salting (preserving) and air-drying. The drying process will take at minimum several months and can last a couple of years. Charcuterie programs have certainly become an important part of restaurant culture. Whether the cured meats are salted and dried in-house or imported from Europe, all cuts have a complex existence.
Now that you have mastered the wine styles, beer styles and cheese flavor profiles, the next challenge is pairing them all together. Selecting cured meats and pairing with specific cheeses, nuts, fruit and wines may seem overwhelming. Let’s get creative and start exploring fun and delicious charcuterie pairing ideas and recommendations. With these guidelines, you’ll have fun crafting an amazing plate to share at your next event.
Making A Charcuterie Board
- Select a wooden or slate board
- Choose 3 to 5 items that represent various styles and textures, such as smoked and meaty; dry-cured and firm; cooked and creamy.
- Serve something acidic, like cornichons (gherkins) or fruit chutney to complement the flavors. Grapes, figs, pears, nuts and apples are also good pairings. Or try truffle butter, which is especially tasty o a slice of bread with saucisson sec.
- Inviting cheese to the party is always a good idea. Mix in your favorites between charcuterie. Think about complementary flavors and textures, including both buttery and creamy cheeses as well as hard cheeses.
- Allow two ounces per person and serve with crackers, rustic country bread, flat bread or a baguette. Decorate your board with red and white grapes.
- Just like a wine tasting, start with a light to medium wine to pair with lighter cheeses and meats. As you start tasting richer and spicer meats, switch to full bodie and BOLD wines. Cleanse your palate with a cracker or bread, in between tastings.