Charcuterie a French word, from chair “meat” and cuit “cooked”, is the branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products, such as bacon, ham, sausage, terrines,galantines, ballotines, pâtés, and confit, primarily from pork.
Charcuterie is part of the garde manger chef’s repertoire. Originally intended as a way to preserve meat before the advent of refrigeration, they are prepared today for their flavors derived from the preservation processes.
The French word for a person who prepares charcuterie is charcutier, generally translated into English as “pork butcher”. This has led to the mistaken belief that charcuterie can only involve pork. The Food Lover’s Companion, however, says, “it refers to the products, particularly (but not limited to) pork specialties such aspâtés, rillettes, galantines, crépinettes, etc., which are made and sold in a delicatessen-style shop, also called a charcuterie.” The 1961 edition of Larousse Gastronomique defines it as: “The art of preparing various meats, in particular pork, in order to present them in the most diverse ways.”
Think of a charcuterie platter as the meaty version of a cheese board – delicious! Here’s how to put the perfect one together…
ADD SOME SAUSAGE
A smokey, preserved sausage is a robust part of the plate, and an absolute essential. It also bulks things up a bit – perfect for a hungry crowd. Our Italian salame cacciatore or spanish chorizo bites are both great options.
PICK A PATE
A delicious, creamy pate adds a different texture to the plate, and something to smear on bread or crackers. Depending on how many people you’re serving, you might want two different varieties: our chicken liver pate and farmhouse platter are equally tasty options.
USE A VARIETY OF MEATS
Three or four meats, either thinly sliced or served in chunks, form the basis of your plate. We suggest a mix of any of the following: parma ham, prosciutto crudo, mortadella, or salame napoli. Or, make it even easier and buy our Italian Antipasto Selection, where we’ve done the work for you. Arrange these loosely on your favourite board or platter.
INCLUDE A SHARP, TANGY BITE
With all the rich, heavy, meaty flavours on the board, you’ll want something astringent and sharp to cut through. Pickles and olives are perfect options – especially if marinated in olive oil, lemon and a little chili.
FINISH OFF WITH BREAD
Good bread is essential – it rounds off the plate, and acts as a vehicle for carrying the pate and meats. Choose something nice and chewy – our Heat and Eat range is perfect here.