At Trattoria, our Charcuterie is one of our more popular options, especially for couples and groups. While it goes without saying that meats and cheese are the ultimate combination, what exactly makes the pairing so perfect? Some choose to pair their cheese with nuts, fruits and honey but when cheese is served with meats, the combination can be addicting.
First, we must understand how to pair meats and cheeses and we do this by learning about the two different types of cured meats: whole muscle or encased. Meats such as prosciutto are dry-cured which means they are salted, hung to dry and later smoked. Fermented meats, like salami, are fermented in a humid atmosphere. Whole muscle meats are much nuttier and sweeter while encased meats are flavored with red pepper, truffle and black pepper.
Cheeses & Whole Muscle Meats
Let’s look at a classic meat— Parmigiano Reggiano. This whole muscle meat is coarse, a bit nutty and is quite lean so you’ll want to pay attention to the texture when finding cheese to pair it with. Choose a cheese that is semi-soft and can be cut thin to compliment the texture of the meat. When eating any whole muscle meat, pay close attention to the acidity of both the cheese and the meat. One or the other needs to have a more powerful tart or citrus taste than the other.
Cheeses & Encased Meats
When eating encased meats, keep in mind that these usually have some spice, garlic or smoke added so you’ll want a cheese that isn’t too flavorful. Encased meats are typically cut into smaller pieces, such as sausages, so they are commonly used for dipping. A cheese that cools the heat and intensity of the encased meat is the way to go. Goat cheese and ricotta work wonders when creating a meal that consists of encased meats.