Charcuterie is one of my favorite appetizers - it can be simple, elegant, and everyone is ALWAYS happy to see it! I've had charcuterie with all products from the same country or all from the same animal (there are many more goat cheeses in the world than the soft chevre we're used to!). It is a pride of mine to create a charcuterie that is both delicious and a centerpiece. Regardless of what is served we always make sure to have some excellent crusty bread to pair.
The first question - is it a meal? While charcuterie is often an appetizer, my family is known for creating a meal out of it. On the left is a charcuterie made for a summer luncheon at Nashoba Valley Winery. As this was not only an appetizer, I made sure to include many different elements in addition to the cheese and meat. On the plate you can find grapes, chevre, salchichón, dolmas, dried peaches, strawberries, tomatoes, prunes, pickled radishes, aged cheddar, snow peas, kalamata olives, and prosciutto-mozzarella rolls. In the bowls are ajvar, tzatziki, green pea and feta salad, and mixed nuts.
One of the most important things to remember is that your charcuterie should have several different textures. I always like to include fruits and fresh (or pickled)
vegetables and sometimes dried fruits or nuts. Adding a couple vegetable dips like hummus or babaganouj is always a big hit. Here we have mandarin oranges, aged gouda, tabbouleh, pickled radishes, hummus, snow peas, cheddar, strawberries, nectarines, plums, pepperoni, and dried fruits.
And then there is party charcuterie. This was created as an appetizer for Danielle's bachelorette which was a French dinner! This was enjoyed pool-side with a bottle of dry red wine and an acidic white. Here we have snap peas, Port Salud, prosciutto, truffle Brie, breadsticks, Genoa salami, Roquefort, Camembert, grapes, soppressata, and ripened goat cheese with balsamic glaze and raspberries. It was served with generous amounts of French bread and we definitely ate way too much of it before we stuffed ourselves with a French meal!
And then sometimes, after a long day or a long week, charcuterie is dinner. When
it feels like cooking is impossible and you haven't have enough time this week to sit down with your significant other - charcuterie is always there for you. So grab a glass of wine and settle in. Here we have Camembert, fresh apricots, goat cheese sprinkled with pistachios and enclaved by raspberries, baguette, whole grain mustard, and snap peas. Bon appétit!
All in all, charcuterie is a wonderful go-to for any occasion. I particularly love bringing it to friends houses' for a party as it is a fun way to introduce people to new fun (and often local - looking at you Sugarbush Farm!) cheese. It also doesn't require any cooking - so you won't throw your host/ess off their game by trying to take up oven space with your appetizer. Go charcut any way you want and please post photos! We always love to see new boards!