Fridays are special in our house, it’s Wine Friday every week. This little ritual started early in our marriage when my husband and I both had jobs ‘on the road’ and only saw each other on weekends. The first one home on a Friday would decant the wine and prepare the ‘cheese and crackers’, then we would sit, sip and snack while we opened our mail and reconnected. Our Friday’s evolved to include friends, sometimes just one or two, sometimes thirty and a sommelier! We still have Wine Friday every week, despite working from home and having a five-year-old son who eats more than his share of the good cheese, it is still how we reconnect after the work week.
The word charcuterie is French, (‘chair’ meat ‘cuit’ cooked) and came from the practice of drying, salting, or curing meats to make them last longer. A traditional charcuterie board will have a variety of meats, cheeses and preserves, and can be a starter or a light meal on its own. The variety is endless so have fun with different themes (France vs Italy, traditional vs vegan etc.)
Here are a few ideas for a traditional charcuterie board that you can make up for yourself or a group, with a little something for every taste. Think about texture when building your board and allow 2-3 oz of meat per person for a starter, or 5-6 oz for a light meal – the food is very rich and goes a long way.
Meat - sliced and served flat or in loose rolls, salty and savory cured meats like prosciutto, bresaola, mortadella, and speck
-dried meats served in large pieces for self-slicing such as hard salamis (one sweet, one spicy), land jaeger, smoked ham, and sausage such as kielbasa
- spreadable such as pate (smooth or chunky usually chicken or duck liver), or terrine (a chunkier version of pate, may include vegetables)
Cheese – think hard (Parmigiano Reggiano, Manchego, aged or smoked Cheddar, Gouda, Gruyere) and soft (Brie, Camembert, Chevre, Roquefort, Gorgonzola) and a favourite cheese spread in our house, Boursin.
Accents - this is where the fun begins, picking accompaniments that balance, enhance and compliment the flavours on the board. Some sweet to balance the salty and others to refresh the fatty, rich meaty flavours on the plate.
-olives and tapenade
-pickles (cucumbers, carrots, onions, or mixed vegetables)
-fresh seasonal fruit such as melons, apples, pear, grapes, berries
-hummus, baba ghanoush, antipasto
-mustard, the grainier the better
-jams (I especially like fig jam with Parmigiano Reggiano), chutney, other preserves
-breads of multiple varieties, from French loaf to crackers
When hosting guests (yes, we will do that again!) making the charcuterie board a feast for the eyes is a fun way to use all your beautiful boards and platters. Meanwhile, why not create your own Wine Friday charcuterie board this week and enjoy the start of the weekend? For an easy dinner or date night visit our friends at Charcuterie and Co. right here in Victoria and let them make you a beautiful and delicious Charcuterie Box to go. And when we can get together again, think of them for your next gathering or party!