The Rise Of The Charcuterie Board
Charcuterie is more than just a fancy French term that foodies use when referring to a room-temperature, grazing board. As old as the ancient Greeks and as current as the most current, upscale restaurant, a charcuterie board is a great way for customers to sample a variety of different items. But what is charcuterie and how did it develop? Perhaps, the more pressing question is: “Why is this traditional culinary art still so popular?
Origins of the Charcuterie
Named after a French term that refers to a type of cooking that uses prepared meat products such as bacon, sausages, terrines, and galantines, charcuterie is a part of the repertoire of grade manager chefs around the world.
The 2009 edition of Larousse Gastronomique’s The World’s Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia defines charcuterie as “the art of cooking various meats, especially pork, in order to present them in the best possible ways.”
During the 15th century, Charcutiers were the guilds responsible for making charcuterie. They produced a variety of salted, dried, and cooked meats, which could vary from one region to another.
The Traditional Charcuterie Board
The traditional board of meats, cheeses, and bread has become so much more.
Today’s charcuterie board starts with meats and cheeses like it has been prepared for centuries. But these aren’t run-of-the-mill and sliced cheese. Meats include the best selection of salami, prosciutto, and other prime deli offerings. Parmesan and cheddar grace many boards, followed by soft cheeses like goat cheese or creamy cow brie. The imagination can run wild by adding unique cheeses in addition to traditional ones everyone is familiar with.
A strong cracker is important because different cheese textures can cause crackers to break and become a mess. Multigrain crisps or crackers are a popular choice. Toasting fresh bread to make crostini is a great way to elevate the board. Fresh garlic knots and cheese sticks are other options.
Every board is made complete with an array of jams and spreads. Cheese dips, savory spreads, and other condiments complement fresh bread. Any charcuterie board will benefit from a small amount of fig jam or marmalade.
Some welcome additions to a board are fruits, vegetables, olives, and a variety of nuts and seeds. Fresh fruits and/or vegetables are always welcome on a board, as they add a unique element of sweetness. A variety of olives can be used including kalamata, Castelvetrano, Niçoise, and even stuffed olives.
To make a board complete, sprinkle some nuts around the board. Adding a crunchy, nutty flavor to the board with almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, or walnuts makes any board complete.
Unique Charcuterie Board Ideas
The classic charcuterie board is getting a revamp with some new, unique ways to present foods to customers.
More often than ever, customers are looking for healthy eating options and a wellness board seems a perfect solution. Vegan, all-vegetable, gluten-free, and dairy-free boards are ways to include guests who have special dietary needs.
Kid Themed Boards
Having a board that’s geared toward children can help with upselling to parents who have little ones who want to join in on the fun. Stick with mild cheeses, fruits like cut grapes and peeled orange slices, trail mix, pretzels, and plain crackers.
Dessert Lovers Boards
Who doesn’t love dessert? Create a dessert charcuterie board with cookies, small chocolates, mini cheesecakes, melted chocolate, and fruit to make a perfect accompaniment to after dinner drinks.