If you’re entertaining a crowd and need a quick dish, a charcuterie is the way to go. As both a low-maintenance and tasty dish, charcuteries provide an array of meats and cheeses perfect for splitting. You’ll want several items, typically between three to five and make sure to incorporate different textures. Opt for smoked meats, dry-cured meats and creamy cheeses. Fruit such as pears, figs and apples also pair nicely with brie and goat cheese.
What to Include in Your Charcuterie Board
Meats: When choosing your meats you must be strategic. Guests will be able to tell when you’re serving a cheap plate of pepperoni as opposed to fresh meats from the butcher. Keep in mind, there are always going to be those that gravitate toward a hot or spicy meat so complement this with a sweet flavor to add a nice contrast. Proscuitto is a wonderful starting point so make this the focal point of your dish and move on from there. Additionally, you’ll want to have a balance of cured meats (capicola & prosciutto) and cooked meats (mortadella).
Accouterments: Selecting the right accouterments for your charcuterie is actually quite simple – go for anything that’s the opposite of salty. Neutralizing the salt of the meats can be easily accomplished with acidic flavors like grapes and olives, and they add some color to the board. Jams will also help you cleanse the palate and they’re sweet which complements the saltiness.
Cheeses: Similar to your meat selection, include a wide-range of cheeses such as soft, creamy, firm, and crumbly. For a crumbly cheese, go with goat but if you want a delicious blue cheese, gorgonzola is a great choice. Some other cheeses include aged cheddar, parmigiano or stilton.
Breads & Crackers: A mix of crackers, chips or bread should be included in your charcuterie so you can properly scoop the cheese.
Other Charcuterie Tips
- Use a slate or wooden cheeseboard for aesthetic purposes
- Serve cheese at room temperature
- Cheese should not be refrigerated a half hour to serving
- Provide a knife so you aren’t mixing cheeses
If you want the best charcuterie in Boston’s North End, book a table at Trattoria Il Panino!