How To Pronounce Charcuterie And 3 Essential Cheese Board Ingredients
Charcuterie… “CHAR cut EERIE” … “charc tee rey” … What?!
If you are like me (a novice chef and let us, be honest…a novice mom too), when charcuterie boards became all the hostess-with-the-mostest rage I was left feeling lost and confused on what the thing even was, let alone how to pronounce the fancy sounding French word. In an attempted effort to be “hip” and “in the know” with the trendy people, I decided to do a little charcuterie board research digging. I wanted to learn what all the fuss was about with meat and cheese clumped together on a platter. Along the way of my charcuterie board research, I found out some interesting charcuterie history, facts, and tons of charcuterie recipes. Now that I am up to my elbows in cold cooked meats and cheeses, I want to share with you what I learned. So, let us get “charcutering”!
How To Pronounce the Word Charcuterie
Let us start by learning how to pronounce the word charcuterie, shall we? The trick I have learned with pronouncing the word charcuterie properly, is to not pronounce the word charcuterie the way it looks spelled. Instead, lightly curl your tongue, purse your lips, and imagine yourself lounging on the French Riviera in the warm sun while nibbling on Prosciutto and cheese (or at your kitchen table surrounded by cranky children like me, whatevs). Now that we are relaxed, say the word charcuterie with me…
“SHAR coo tuh ree”
The word charcuterie rolls off the tongue, does it not? Please do not be intimidated by the somewhat difficult to say fancy sounding French word, the actual product of a charcuterie is nothing to be intimidated by at all. In fact, you can make a charcuterie board as disheveled and comfortable as you would like. Or you can be as fancy as fancy can be and make a professionally designed next level charcuterie board as well. That is what I like the most about charcuterie boards – they are universal, easy and anyone can make them for almost any occasion.
So What Is Charcuterie?
Traditionally, charcuterie is the art of preparing and assembling cured meats and meat products in an arranged manner on a platter. When the charcuterie board trend caught popularity in America somewhat recently, people started getting creative with the items on a charcuterie board and included other food items such as a variety of nuts, fresh and dried fruits, dips such as hummus or tzatziki, artisan breads, crackers, olives, pickles and the ever popular: cheese. I have even seen breakfast charcuterie boards and even dessert charcuterie boards. The modern charcuterie board knows no bounds and you can be as creative with it as you would like.
History of Charcuterie
The word “charcuterie” is loosely translated from the French word to “pork butcher”. In 15th century France to preserve meats in a time before refrigeration was invented the guild or group of local artisans and merchants that created charcuteries, and which were called charcutiers would cure and smoke pork products to extend their shelf life. These included items such as pâtés, rillettes, sausages, bacon, trotters, and head cheese also known as pork brawn. These preservation methods ensured the meat would have longer shelf lives. Charcuterie became symbolic then to lower status peasantry. You read that right! Charcuterie boards have not always had the upscale reputation that they do now!
The 3 Basic Ingredients of a Charcuterie Board
It should go without saying that every charcuterie board should offer at least one meat if for no other reason than to pay homage to the charcuterie history. However, this is of course is just a suggestion and not a requirement! Due to the intense popularity of charcuterie boards, you can even find packs of the best charcuterie meats in your deli section of your local grocery store.
Salami is a cured sausage consisting of fermented and air-dried meat. You can purchase it pre-sliced or whole and you can serve it in straight or curved rows.
Prosciutto is an Italian dry-cured ham that is usually thinly sliced and served uncooked. You can serve is delicately folded or bunched up quickly. Whatever works for you!
A coarsely ground pork sausage seasoned with garlic, savory spices, and whole black peppercorn. You can serve as you would salami.
Pepperoni is a great alternative to traditional salami because it is a slightly spicy American variety of salami that is made from cured pork and beef seasoned with paprika or other chili pepper.
Offering your guests a variety of cheeses will help to create the ideal charcuterie board. Look for a variety of types of cheeses as well, from sharp to rich and creamy. However, there is no need to go overboard! The best charcuterie boards keep it relatively simple and offers just a few select cheeses with a variety of meats and bread. You can serve your cheese varieties sliced, cubed or whole. Examples of ideal charcuterie board cheeses include:
A sharp and pungent cheese that is paired wonderfully with plain crackers, tart fruits and smokey meats.
A buttery smooth cheese that melts in your mouth.
A classic American taste that pairs perfectly with hard crackers and crunchy fruit.
A wonderful interesting addition to any charcuterie board that offers the palette a smoky flavor. Great with breads and crackers.
Herbed Goat Cheese
Goat cheese is a slightly tart yet creamy cheese that is delicious paired with dried fruits such as apricot and fig.
Sharp and hard, parmesan cheese is an excellent palette cleanser and pairs great with soft breads.
Practically a charcuterie board staple, small fresh mozzarella balls pair perfectly with tart cherry tomatoes and a leaf of fresh basil.
Bread or Crackers
In the modern-day kitchen charcuterie boards, we love ourselves a good piece of artisan bread or cracker to eat with our cold cooked meats and cheeses. Therefore, on a charcuterie board, offer your guests a small variety of pre sliced bread and crackers.
Sliced French Bread Baguette
Any kind of cracker you have on hand!
From butter to salt or to wheat crackers there are so many types of crackers to choose from that you cannot go wrong.
Of course, you can add more food items to your charcuterie boards including items such as dried and fresh fruit, nuts, dips, jams, and herbs. Whatever will make your board the tastiest is the best I always say.
I have a girlfriend that creates a small charcuterie board for herself almost every day for lunch. If you think about it, a charcuterie board can be a perfectly balanced meal with all the ideal required five food groups: Dairy, Grain, Protein, Fruit and Vegetable.
A relaxed setting and comfortable gathering is best met with a delicious and humble charcuterie board. Whether you are with family or are with friends a curated charcuterie board will have food offerings that will appeal to everyone’s liking. You can serve it as a snack option before a meal or a light meal option with adult beverages.
Get creative with your charcuterie board making skills and create a fun and festive board that matches the current holiday occasion. A charcuterie board in the shape of a bunny, tree, country flag or heart? Yes, please! I love serving a holiday themed charcuterie board to my holiday1 guests for lunch. They are easy to make, tummy filling and a crowd pleaser because there is something for everyone.
By its inherent nature, a charcuterie board naturally lends itself to being created in a highly organized, beautiful, and formal manner. I have seen charcuterie board examples online that have literally blown me away. People’s creativity knows no bounds! If you have the desire and the time you can most definitely up your charcuterie game and create a professional board that is appetizing for your formal gathering.
I hope you have enjoyed learning a bit more about charcuterie history and the art of creating a classic charcuterie board. And if you’d rather leave the work to someone else, you can also find many ready-made charcuterie platters delivered right to your home.
Do not forget to check out Zulily’s kitchen & dining shop to pick up the best platter or bowl for your next charcuterie board.