What does Charcuterie Mean?
The word Charcuterie derives from 15th-century French origins. The term comes from two French words: “Chair” which means “flesh,” and “cuit” which means “cooked.” It is a fancy word for cured meat. Historically people used all of the meat and left nothing to waste. The meat was put through a preservation process of curing and often transformed into a sausage or dry-aged meat. Shop owners, or charcutiers, would hang cured meats in their windows as a form of advertising.
At that time, there was no refrigeration. Therefore, salt, vinegar, and smoke were all essential parts of the meat preservation process. These techniques actually dated back to the Roman Empire, nearly 2000 years ago. Additionally, before refrigerators were invented, meat was hung near the fire. Smoke helped to preserve it so it lasted longer. As an added bonus, this smoking process added new flavors to the meat.
What’s Included in Charcuterie?
A typical charcuterie board consists of mainly meats and cheeses. It’s also common that these charcuterie boards include bread, fruits, nuts, honey or mustard spreads, pickles, and olives. Many of the common charcuterie meats include capicola, salami, and prosciutto. Dry-cured chorizo and mortadella are also regularly-used meats in terms of charcuterie.
Common Charcuterie Themes
Cheese and Fruit
Cheese and fruit are perfect for a simple board. Both the cheese and fruit can be cut and displayed in fancy ways and these boards can be used during any meal of the day. Some of the best types of cheese to include on a charcuterie board include:
- Hard cheese: These include parmesan and asiago.
- Firm cheese: Try Colby, comte, and manchego.
- Semi-soft cheese: Havarti and muenster.
- Soft cheese: These are favorites, such as burrata, stracchino, and mascarpone.
- Blue cheese: These include gorgonzola, marbled blue jack, and dunbarton blue.
- Crumbly cheese: Try goat cheese and feta.
- Aged cheddar, aged gouda, Parmigiano-Reggiano or gruyere are also popular choices. Adding contrasting cheeses with distinct flavors is important to include on your board.
Meat and Cheese Charctuerie
The typical charcuterie board includes meats and cheeses. Add salamis, prosciutto, other dried meats, and whatever else sparks your attention.
Cheese, Vegetables, & Bread
Add tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, pickles, and whatever other vegetables are in season and local. Select your favorite cheeses, add some hard and soft bread and crackers, and maybe even some nuts, and enjoy!
Everything Charcuterie Board
A charcuterie board is whatever you want it to be. But if you really want to impress your guests, put everything on there and make it pretty!
- Assortment of meats
- Variety of cheeses
- Easy veggies
- Fruits (berries, apples, and grapes)
- Jams & Spreads
- Bread, crackers, and nuts
Charcuterie Art Phenomenon
An essential way of life in France has transformed into a cultural phenomenon in the United States. People are creating stunning charcuterie art with cured meats, cheeses, fruit, and other tasty treats at home, specialty markets, like Sansone Market, specialize in creating charcuterie boards for its customers, and beautiful charcuterie art is displayed all over social media, and the internet. The COVID pandemic has also had an impact on the popularity of charcuterie. Being at home allowed people to create charcuterie in their kitchens, build beautiful boards, and post them online. Charcuterie art appeals to both the appetite and the eye…so try it in your own kitchen or stop by our Market to order a charcuterie board for your next party!