June 9, 2016

Charcuterie Boards are Anything but Boring

Nothing brings a table full of hungry food-lovers together like a board covered with a variety of delicious meats. When you apply the skills you learned from an accredited online culinary institute to putting together the perfect array of savory items, you’ll ensure that diners have an exceptional restaurant experience. Here are some tips for making your selections and a few examples of establishments where the meats are a cut above the competition:

Assembling your board
Of course, the first step in putting together a fantastic combination on your charcuterie board is considering the different types of meat you want to include. Strive to bring together pleasantly contrasting flavors and textures that will make each bite an intriguing experience. Seamus Mullen of El Colmado Butchery in New York City offered some suggestions to Bon Appetit:

  • Cured sausages are comforting crowd-pleasers that are available with a variety of tastes, from sweet to spicy.
  • Thin slices of whole-muscle cuts such as prosciutto or lomo de cerdo, a cured pork tenderloin, make a salty and flavorful addition to the table.
  • For both great flavor and a distinctive texture, serve pate or terrine with crackers.
  • Jams provide a nice contrast to all that meat, especially when paired with a quality toast.

You’ll also need to consider how much of item to offer, along with any garnishes or condiments. Elias Cairo, the owner of Olympia Provisions of Portland, discussed his approach with Epicurious. He suggested suggested limiting the portions to about two ounces per diner, especially if they are expected to retain an appetite for a main course. Also, a little olive oil and black pepper on your spreads and pate makes a nice finishing touch.

Fruits, cheeses, condiments and cured meats are all great ways to add variety to your charcuterie board.

Fruits, cheeses, condiments and cured meats are all great ways to add variety to your charcuterie board.

LA Weekly declared the charcuterie at Chi Spacca the best in town, and a glance at the menu’s array of painstakingly crafted meat products shows why. The Italian restaurant specializes in decidedly non-vegetarian items, highlighted with the spot-on use of herbs, spices and smoke. Diners can choose among options like whole muscles, featuring pancetta testa and coppa, two types of salami, and pate and terrine. The best meat assortments around
Restaurants across the U.S. have established great charcuterie programs. The chefs offer a tremendous variety of delicious meats, often cured on the premises and always beautifully prepared and presented. These boards will offer any chef plenty of ideas for his or her own unique take on hors d’oeuvres.

At Chicago’s Old Town Social, chef Jared Van Camp offers 16 house-made charcuterie options, all joined by mustard piccacilli and grilled bread. The possibilites include a pepperoni made with grass-fed beef, allspice and paprika. On the other hand, the mortadella draws added flavor from pistachios, white wine and coriander. If you want to enjoy an extra-rich spread, order the chicken liver mousse with cream and madeira.

“Charcuterie is about taking a journey through flavors and textures.”

Should you find yourself in Austin and want to sit down for a bite of butcher-fresh pork and beef, look no further than Salt & Time. The combination butcher shop and restaurant offers a daily selection of four of the meats prepared on-site. Get there at happy hour and you can enjoy the build your own board special. Plus, you can always pick up some more delicious sausage and salami to take home with you.

Coloradans, meanwhile, owe it to themselves to sample the options  at Colt & Gray. The Denver restaurant serves house-cured meats like duck prosciutto with orange and black pepper or the Spanish-style pork tenderloin, lomo embuchado. If you prefer your meat cooked, opt for the liver sausage or smoked beef tongue pastrami.

Charcuterie is all about taking a journey through a variety of flavors and textures. With your culinary academy training, you can present diners with some of your favorite meat products with others and watch as they share and enjoy each one.