The Art of Charcuterie

Broad may have gone overboard with this one

If we could eat fancy meats and cheeses every day, forever, we would. Add some olives, fancy jams and crostini and you basically have all the major food groups covered, right?  With this post, we’d like to share our are tips and secrets for constructing the best charcuterie board.

As Broad likes to say, “charcuterie comes from the heart.” Yes, she said this and Beard made fun of her, but it’s true! When constructing your board, forget about other people’s standards or board’s you’ve seen before. Use your imagination and get creative.  It should be full of items you love and want to devour. Forget what other people would say and let loose a little!

For preparing our most recent board, we went to two of our favorite places: West Side Market and Old Brooklyn Cheese Co. At West Side Market we purchased some of the meats and stopped at our favorite vendor, Rita’s for an assortment of olives and other tasty snacks. At Old Brooklyn we brought some pretty amazing cheeses and some other board necessities. If you have not been to this cheese shop, you must make your way there immediately. They have the best selection of cheeses, hands down. The staff is so friendly and knowledgable. They really take the time to make sure you’re getting exactly what you want and if you don’t know what you want they’ll find it for you.  We learned a lot about cheese and tasted so many delicious varieties. It was hard to leave this place.

          

Meat
Proscuitto is a must, always. It’s our favorite charcuterie meat and goes well with everything. Soppressata is another favorite, we usually opt for the mild one over the spicy one. Chorizo is also always good tooo. We picked up some at the cheese shop. These are some of our favorite cured meats. We also like to add pâté, terrines or rillettes as well (from our favorite lady butchers at Saucisson). Don’t be afraid to mix it up with cured meats, smokies, pâtés etc.

         

Cheese
We tend to have differing views on cheese. Broad prefers the softer more mild cheeses (but still does a strong blue) while Beard prefers hard, aged cheeses. We decided for this board we wanted a cheddar, gouda, brie and blue cheese. These are all perfect for any type of board (and our personal favorites). But, since we were visiting Old Brooklyn for the first time we wanted to hear their suggestions.  We ended up buying: a goat gouda, a soft mild blue, a standard brie and one of their special in house cheeses, the Chupacabra, which was washed with a local IPA. If you don’t know what you want don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask for samples!

             

Breads
We like to mix it up with crostini and different styles of crackers. Old Brooklyn had homemade crostini which were absolutely delicious. Beard generally likes to stick with water crackers. Broad likes to add herb or garlic crackers every now and then.

         

Olives
We love to get a mix from Rita’s, they really have the best stuffed olives. Their absolute best ones are the stuffed goat cheese herb olives. We can eat an entire container in one sitting. We usually get some garlic, blue cheese, cheddar, etc. They always have new flavors. We also bought a container of bacon cream cheese stuffed pepperocinis.

Accompaniments
Broad tends to like savory more than sweet when it comes to any type of food item. We found the most delicious garlic and chive jam. We also bought strawberry rhubarb preserves (the best fruit flavors). No board is complete without cornichons (those tiny pickles), dried fruit (preferably apricots) and marcona almonds (fancy almonds). Get creative with your accompaniments! This can really be your chance add your personal touch to the board. Get a unique jam or fun nut mix. Also you can’t forget the chocolates. Broad likes milk chocolate while Beard prefers dark.

Final Tips

  • First rule of charcuterie: there are no rules.
  • Listen to your heart or stomach.
  • Pick items you know and love, and perhaps try some new ones.
  • It’s not just about meats and cheeses. Don’t forget the jams, olives, nuts etc.
  • Presentation is key but honestly people are going to be more concerned with eating the items rather than looking at them.

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Of course we suggest getting yourself some sort of serving apparatus, but it’s not necessary. The most important parts of your board should be the fresh, tasty items on it and the people you’re enjoying them with.

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