A French culinary term that once referred to preserved meat products, usually pork, the preparation for which arose from the necessity to extend its shelf life, pre-refrigeration. A more contemporary interpretation conjures wooden boards bearing lavish arranged displays of smoked or cured meats as well as tempting accompaniments—cheese, fruit, pickled and fresh vegetables, crackers, toast, artisan bread, nuts, honey, and jams, dips, mustards, or sauces. As the centerpiece of a gathering, a well-appointed charcuterie board will bring people together to sample different pairings of artfully presented foods.


What to Eat: Charcuterie

Wine Pairing

A Sancerre from J. de Villebois is an excellent universal choice. It smells of green apple and peach. There are touches of candied fruit on the plate, but there is a nervy steel acidity there as well to cut through the richness of the meats and cheeses.

 


 

Start by choosing the foundation: a wooden or marble board, a platter, tray, or, in a pinch, a simple round plate. If you are using a marble vessel you may wish to line it with waxed or parchment paper to avoid staining from the oils in the meats and cheeses.

Cheeses

Offer assorted flavors and textures in your presentation. Any combination of aged, firm, soft, crumbly, or creamy cheeses should suffice. You can also include a variety of types of milk, which all offer varied flavors and textures as well. Consider a mix of Manchego, aged Cheddar and a triple-crème Brie, such as Saint Andre.

Meats 

Consider a combination of Prosciutto, Salami and Chorizo. For local flare, work in artisan Andouille, such as that from Wayne Jacob’s Smokehouse (wjsmokehouse.com).

Fruits 

Fresh and seasonal is best, but dried will work too. Consider figs, persimmon, grapes, blueberries, strawberries and apricots.

Seasonal Produce 

Fresh is imperative. Consider radishes, cherry tomatoes and sliced multi-colored baby carrots (use actual baby carrots, not those packaged things that look like nubs).

Bread/Crackers 

Consider Crostini, Focaccia and artisan varieties.

Extras 

A combination of sweet and savory is ideal, think caramelized pecans, kalamata olives, bleu cheese-stuffed olives, sweet baby pickles or cornichons and pickled mushrooms. Also work in your favorite mustards and jams.


What to Eat: Charcuterie

Our Expert

Benjamin Tanet of Chez Nous started working at Chez Nous while in college, then bought the business in 1981. While keeping the concept as one of the city’s original gourmet-to-go options, he has grown it further into a full-service catering operation, allowing him to flex his creative muscle. Chez Nous, 4739 Magazine St., gotocheznous.com.