Who doesn’t like a good charcuterie board? I just came back from France where the are signs for Charcuterie EVERYWHERE! Oh, you aren’t sure what that means? Do you know those fancy platters with assorted cured meats and mild and creamy cheeses? Yeah, those are charcuterie boards.
Charcuterie boards, or let’s simply call it charcuterie, is not a new thing. Actually they’ve been around for hundreds of years. It’s only until recently that America has got caught up in the trend.
Before we get to the here and now, here’s a little bit of a history lesson. Charcuterie is derived from the French words for flesh (chair) and cooked (cuit). The word is actually used to describe the shops in 15th century France that sold products that were made from pork, including the pig’s internal organs.
Please, don’t lose your appetite. Keep reading! Trust me it is worth it!
However, the practice of salting and smoking meats to preserve them dates back about 6,000 years to ancient Rome. Charcuterie is rooted in the belief that nothing from the animal should be wasted; not even the heart, lungs, kidneys, fat, or brain.
Charcuterie: What’s Included?
A typical charcuterie board consists of mainly meats and cheeses. But at many restaurants or house parties, it’s common that these boards include bread, fruits, nuts, condiments such as honey or mustard, pickles, and olives.
Many of the common meats that are considered to be charcuterie include capicola, salami, and prosciutto. Dry-cured chorizo and mortadella are also regularly-used meats in terms of charcuterie.
Cheese is all about preference, like personally, goat cheese – hit or miss for me. It comes down to what pairs better with the meat on your platter. A typical board has a variety of different cheeses. Aged cheddar or aged Gouda are popular choices. So are cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano or gruyere. There should always be contrasting cheeses so each bite can have a different flavor profile to it.
Cured Meats, Cheese, and Wine
Eating charcuterie typically involves drinking some type of alcohol with it, usually wine. A simple reason is that it’s great for many people in one setting, whether it be a party or out at a restaurant. Secondly, many wines go well with it. Yes, that’s a really broad statement, but it’s true.
Salty meats such as prosciutto go well with chilled, sparkling wines. That is because they are low in alcohol content, high in acid, and a little sweet to balance out the saltiness. Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir would be great choices. Historically, full-bodied red wines, like Merlot or Cabernet Franc, are commonly paired with charcuterie.
There are a lot of options for food and wine pairings! Get inventive and imaginative! Because that is the fun of food and wine pairings, experiment!
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