The art of preserving meat, known as charcuterie to the French or salumi in Italy, is nearly as old as eating itself. From pâté, rillette and ‘nduja, to salami, Jamon and prosciutto, there is a vast array of flavours and textures to be found on a charcuterie board, salumi platter, ploughman’s lunch… Whatever you call it, with the simple unwrapping of some of our artisanal products, you can be sure you’ll be sitting down to a treat.
For a little guidance, we recommend roughly 50g of charcuterie per person if it’s served as a starter. For a cocktail event where charcuterie will be the main pass-around item, we suggest doubling it for 100g each and serving it with lots of olive oiled crusty bread. Because charcuterie meats are already preserved, there is no harm in over catering as leftovers will keep very well!
There is really very little to crafting a charcuterie board, the opening of a few packets and jars, some simple arranging, a little warming at most, so selecting the right products is crucial. They are laid bare on the board, leaving nowhere to hide. First and foremost, choose premium quality, artisanal products, and you’re here, so that’s covered. Next is considering variety. Variety in texture, smooth, spreadable pâté or parfait, no less spreadable but a little gutsier rillette or ‘nduja, paired with some chewy prosciutto or Jamon, and some firmer bresaola or well-aged salami. Then add something more sweet and mild leg ham, some punchy chorizo or sopressa, and something smoked.
But we’d say one smoked element is sufficient, lest it become overwhelming smokey. We’re lucky to have such ready access to French charcuterie meats, Italian salumi, and other delicacies from all around the world. Choose from the finest!
Crafting your Charcuterie Board ~ The Accompaniments
Charcuterie is by its nature quite rich, so sharp, fresh or acidic accompaniments will be welcome. Some pickles, mustards, chutney or a rustic salad are all great ideas. Cheese of all sorts as well, a crumbly cheddar is a staple on a classic British ploughman’s platter, the french “assiette de fromage et charcuterie” (cheese charcuterie platter) is commonly found during apéro (pre-dinner aperitif) in France. Cheese and charcuterie are natural partners - fine cheese will always pair well with quality meats, but just be a little conscious of the saltiness of the charcuterie platter as a whole. Opting for creamy, fresh or nutty cheeses will leave room in the quota for the usually quite salty meats. Of course, always include a good bottle of red wine to go with it all!