We are asked about this quite a lot especially in the summer and around the Christmas period, so decided we would dedicate this blog to that!!
A Charcuterie board can be the answer to many culinary situations, the epic summer picnic, with strawberries and blueberries, a Christmas Charcuterie board could include dates, dried apricots and your favourite nuts.
A Valentine board could include chocolate. It could form the most incredible starter or indeed my favourite the ‘main event’ The reason we started Marsh Pig predominantly was frankly greed….we would always choose Charcuterie on the menu and our ‘go to’ happy place was a carpet picnic, which as far as i am concerned is still the case.
Why do I like a carpet picnic best? Just like you guys it's about variety, and that's exactly what a great Charcuterie board should have. Variety not only in meats and cheeses but also in textures. You would think having got your haul of goodies together it was just a question of chucking them on a board and voila….err not so my friends. However with a little thought about height, flavours and textural variety you will be wowing your guests.
Let's start with your serving platter, Your chopping board is your ‘go to’ ideal, don't worry if its not pristine, you could place parchment paper on top of some of the scratchy bits! If you don't have a big chopping board, then think about a slate or indeed a tea tray, basically a flat surface is what is required. You're going to need to think about height, a flat board is frankly going to look dull.
You are going to want chutney and pickles so lets get those in some small bowls, yes you want cornichon and maybe silver skin onions, but mix it up and go for some chilli jelly, a little spike of heat can be oh so delightful and will go well with the cheese component. Fig jam is delicious as is your favourite chutney and marinated artichokes, get those in pretty bowls. Think several bowls, in a variety of sizes and shapes, glass, ceramic, wooden etc You not only get the height but the power to prop up other gorgeous bits like biscuits and fruit.
One of the main issues about building an exciting Charcuterie board is lack of colour, beautiful meat is of course stunning but you are going to need some colour to show off that Free Range Meat, look for seasonal colour, strawberries, cherries, celery, tomatoes, grapes, apple. Spread this colour over the board, place into the gaps perhaps in 3 places to break up the colour across the board.
I also like to include dried fruit and nuts, again for variety and to add to the balance of salty, spicy, sweet, crunchy loveliness I like to serve a couple of cheeses on my board, Comte is my favourite so i normally try and squeeze that in somehow but choose what you and your guests will love, another favourite is Fen Farms, Baron Bigod. It is the only traditional raw milk Brie-de-Meaux style cheese produced in the UK, just sublime and a real crowd pleaser https://fenfarmdairy.co.uk/shop/.
Now the Charcuterie selection, let's get down to it. You are going to want at least 2-3 different flavours of salami or mild chorizo on the board and 2 -3 whole muscle (Lomo, Coppa or Bresaola) . The wafer thin meat makes for a stunning contrast to the thicker cut salami.
We always like to add different shapes of salami, we produce Truffle Salami, a mild Oak Smoked Chorizo and a decadent Venison & Sloe Gin Salami that have the circumference of a pound coin and are about 12 inches long. On our Charcuterie board we cut these sticks into 3 giving a different height and shape and also it gets your guests interactive with the board.
We will also serve our Fennel Salami, alongside our Garlic & Black Pepper Salami and then mix it up with Rosemary & Garlic Salami By doing this you are getting not only different flavours, colours and textures you are keeping your palate really excited.
Your Charcuterie platter needs to have a feeling of generosity not only in volume but more importantly in thought for the variety of flavours and textures you are serving.
The biscuits are important here too, different shapes and textures again keep the board looking great but again add textural variety. We like to serve, water biscuits, langue de chat and something with seeds, e.g a rougher texture. So we have covered the board, the accompaniments, the cheese, the meat and the biscuits and you are good to go.
Now pour yourself your favourite tipple and enjoy!