By Corbin Wagoner
Photography by Rase Littlefield
France’s Popular Cured Meat Takes on a Life of its Own in the U.S.
Have you noticed the surge in popularity of charcuterie in advertising, at wineries, parties, and on restaurant menus? A recent Google search of the word “charcuterie” generated
Charcuterie is a French word that combines the words chair, which means meat or flesh, and cuit, meaning, “cooked.” At its foundation, charcuterie was originally about
serving preserved meats.
Today, a typical charcuterie board is filled with salamis, prosciuttos, sausages, other dry-cured meats, and pâté. Multiple options for garnishes and sides include breads,
cheeses, chocolates, crackers, dried fruits, olives, nuts, jellies, and jams.
In keeping with charcuterie heritage, strictly speaking, a charcuterie board was a presentation of dry-cured meats. Today, if you also want to serve cheeses with your
charcuterie, a “Charcuterie Influencer” might suggest that you prepare a charcuterie board with cheese or a cheese board with charcuterie, but rarely on the same board. However, and in life there is always a, however, as Forrest Gump once opined about the perfect pairing of peas and carrots, cheeses and cured meats also go together splendidly
on the same charcuterie board.
While attending a Christmas party in Colorado last year, we were enjoying the rekindling of friendships and traditional party foods and beverages; then a new food experience happened! In walked Jane, a charcuterie influencer with her charcuterie board and all the trimmings.
The experience of watching a skilled charcuterie influencer perfectly assemble an impressive charcuterie presentation was better than seeing Santa Claus. Before that night, I did not know there was a title called charcuterie influencer.
With anticipation, we gathered around the kitchen as our host and her friend, Jane laid out the delicious fare on the large charcuterie board. First, we watched as thinly sliced salamis, pepperonis, roast beef, smoked turkey, ham, prosciutto, other cured meats, and cocktail shrimp were arranged around the perimeter of the charcuterie board. Next, our host skillfully placed sweet and dill pickles, multiple olive varieties, dried fruits, assorted jams, jellies, honey, pickled pearl onions, and pickled okra in small easily accessible bowls near the center of the board. Various nuts, mustards, condiments, and spreads soon followed in a never-ending parade of colors, textures, and flavors. Finally, to round out the performance, varieties of crackers, breads, and cheeses were arranged on the board for easy access. The completed charcuterie board was a masterpiece of flair and creativity.
Your favorite chilled, sparkling wine is an ideal pairing with a savory, fully loaded charcuterie board. Sparkling wines work well because they are usually lower in alcohol content, and their slightly sweet finish balances the saltiness of the preserved meats and cheeses. Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir are also great choices. Charcuterie boards have expanded beyond their French roots to include candies, chocolates, fresh fruits and more. Let your imagination be your guide.
Now that you have some ideas for delicious meats, cheeses, and condiments for your charcuterie board, perhaps you would like to know about a local company right here in
Eagle that builds beautiful, handcrafted charcuterie boards. WOODLAB builds custom furniture, art, home goods and, yes, charcuterie boards. To experience a few of our local restaurant charcuterie boards, visit JoVinos or Bacquets for inhouse dining or Crave’s charcuterie that is available on their catering menu. Charcuterie it up!