Once a word everyone preferred not to pronounce, charcuterie (shahr-koo-tuh–ree) has become a staple on Utah menus, always in the form of a charcuterie board. Some restaurants, to free their diners from the anxiety of saying a difficult-looking French word out loud, just call it a meat-and-cheese board, and few things are so easy to put together and so perfect for entertaining.
A charcuterie board can be as much fun to make as it is to enjoy. In both cases, the trick is mastering different combinations of tastes
Technically, charcuterie refers to the meat part and specifically to cured or smoked meat, usually pork. Things like bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, rillettes, galantines, ballotines, pâtés, and confit—all available locally and some made locally.
That said, remember that contrast and variety are the keys to a great charcuterie board. You want things that are visually different—served in ramekins, pre-sliced, wedges to be sliced by the guest, logs, spreads and all the complements: fruit, olives, mustard, honey, pickles and, of course, bread.
Focus on a selection of textures and a range of flavors—spicy, sweet and herbal.
• Spreadables, like a fine-grained, smooth pate or rillettes
• Sliced meats, like Genoa or
• Thin-sliced meats, like prosciutto, bresaola, guanciale or speck
Fruit provides color and flavor. Pick it wisely.
Choose fruit that’s seasonal and fresh. Obviously, grapes are perfect if the grapes are good. Strawberries and other berries, fresh or dried cherries, fresh or dried figs, apple and pear slices (dip in lemon water to prevent browning). Any dried fruit, like cranberries, is preferable to tasteless, out-of-season fresh fruit.
Choose an assortment of textures and a variety of strengths, from mild to stinky. Consider:
• Mesa Farms tomme (made in Mesa, Utah; soft enough to use a cheese knife)
• Beehive Seahive cheddar (firm, you could serve in slices)
• Fresh goat cheese (soft, crumbly and tangy)
• Aged Gouda (hard, a caramel sweetness; try to just break it into bite-size chunks)
• Parmigiana-Reggiano (see aged Gouda)
• Blue (try the soft Smokey Blue from Rogue Creamery)
• Brie or a triple cream like Brillat-Savarin (richer than butter, spreadable)
• Rockhill Farms raw milk cheese (serve in a chunk with a knife; made at a micro-dairy in Utah)
THE FUN STUFF
There’s more to charcuterie than meat and cheese.
• Honey—Serve Utah honey (with the comb) to drizzle over cheese
• Pickles—French cornichons are traditional, but feel free to mix it up, especially if you’re a home pickler. (Pickle boards—just a selection of pickles—are a current trend.)
• Olives—Serve a mix from a
local olive bar.
• Nuts—Unsalted almonds and walnuts are best.
• Mostarda—Italian candied fruit in a mustardy sauce
• Tart artisanal jams—Local jam-maker Amour Spreads makes an unusual variety of jam
• Quince paste—A must if one of your cheeses is Manchego
• Chutney—Choose from jam-like, pesto-like or relish-like options.
For more recipes and ideas, check out our entertaining inspirations!