Charcuterie is not your mother’s cheese and sausage tray from Mid-Century America. It’s all about a selection of taste, texture and visual appeal and, while it typically focuses on the meat, my guide for the perfect charcuterie is the “Times Three Rule”. This means use at least three items from each of the following categories:
• Meats: pate’, prosciutto, peppered salami, French ham or smoked turkey
• Cheeses: cheddar, Camembert, Brie or blue. Include hard, crumble and soft selections.
• The Unexpected: dried apricots, radishes, cucumbers, Kosher salt, olives, tapenade, cherry tomatoes, butter, green grapes, fresh sliced pear, cornichons, almonds, blackberries, or raspberries.
• Breads: sliced baguette, Triscuits, bread sticks, pretzel rods or Fillo Cups.
To make the perfect charcuterie for your holiday entertaining table, start by selecting a cutting board that reflects your style. I always begin with the cheese placement, then proceed to meats, building from edge to edge on the board. I then add the unexpected items as fillers for texture and color. I also like to include small ramekins for mustard or tapenade to give the presentation some depth. Provide a separate platter for the bread items. White marble is my favorite choice as it sets off the colors of the bread items! Finally, don’t forget small cocktail forks as well as cheese knives and spreaders.
Make One for the Kids Too
A kids’ charcuterie platter is not only fun to put together but it makes children feel like they’re included in the party.
Again, start with a size appropriate cutting board. I like to use cheddar and pepper jack cheese, sliced ham and turkey and include a variety of unexpected items such as deviled eggs, celery sticks (plain and filled with spreadable cheese), carrot sticks, sliced apples and pears, cut up grapes, as well as raisins, dried cranberries and almonds. For a dipping and or spreading, I often add a ramekin of peanut butter. And don’t forget the pretzel rods!
And for the Wine
Charcuterie boards have a bit of salt as well as a high fat ratio content. Sparkling wine is a great accompaniment to cleanse the palate and savor the tastes of the varied selections. I highly suggest Champagne, Prosecco, Cava or Sekt. Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux are also nice selections that go well with charcuterie.