Whether I’m having company over for a holiday feast or game day party, I always put out a well-stocked charcuterie meats platter. It’s an easy way to keep guests happy while I’m busy in the kitchen or getting drinks ready. I start with a good mix of meat and cheese and add in some olives, fruit, nuts and crackers, so there’s a little something for everyone.
Whether I’m having company over for a holiday feast or game day party, I always put out a well-stocked charcuterie platter. It’s an easy way to keep guests happy while I’m busy in the kitchen or getting drinks ready. I start with a good mix of meat and cheese and add in some olives, fruit, nuts and crackers, so there’s a little something for everyone. The secret to a crowd-pleasing charcuterie meats board is to balance out taste, texture and flavor. From velvety prosciutto to spicy calabrese, I like to serve five meats that compliment each other perfectly on the platter. Served with a few good, high quality cheeses and some bread and crackers, my guests always love this satisfying combo.
what’s the best items to add to a charcuterie board?
You can’t go wrong with small bowls of olives, pickles, honey and jam. And let’s not forget to pile up some nuts and arrange fresh fruit for extra crunch and sweetness.
best cheeses for a cheese board
When it comes to cheese for the board, I add at least one or two soft cheeses and one or two hard cheeses to the platter. See what my favorite picks for a cheese board are HERE. You can’t go wrong with a mixture of cow, sheep and goat cheese. Set out 3 to 4 ounces of cheese per person on the platter.
best wines for a charcuterie board
For wine, I like to offer both red and white wine options to pair with the charcuterie meats. One of my favorite reds is an Argentinian Malbec, The Show by Bieler, Gott & Scommes, Malbec 2017. It stands up well to all the different types of meat. I also like a fresh and fruity white wine to balance the richness of the cheese. One great option is Rodney Strong Sauvignon Blanc 2017 from California.
My favorite picks for charcuterie meats are listed below. Have about 2 ounces of meat per person on the charcuterie board. Remember to take the meat out of the fridge about 30 minutes before serving so it comes to room temperature. Get ready to stun your guests with a beautiful and delicious charcuterie board!
Soppressata is a dry salami that comes from the Calabria, Vicenza and Tuscany regions of Italy. Soppressata is typically made from fresh pork, but it can also be made with beef. The meat is coarsely ground before aromatic spices like garlic and black pepper are added. Other add-ins include sweet red pepper and spicy red pepper flakes depending on the region.
Once the meat goes in the casing, soppressata is pressed under marble slabs for 48 hours. It is then hung and cured for up to 100 days.
“Uncured” soppressata simply means that vinegar, celery powder and sea salt are added for the curing process instead of sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite.
After soppressata is cured, it is either wrapped in paper or vacuum-sealed as a whole, flattened log. You can sometimes find soppressata pre-sliced and packaged near the other deli meats in your local grocery store.
When sliced, soppressata has a dense consistency and intense aromatic flavor. It’s delicious on its own or with crackers and cheddar or asagio cheese.
Add a spicy element to your charcuterie board with Calabrese salami. This pork sausage was named after a region in Southern Italy, Calabria, known for its spicy cuisine. Pork shoulder, belly or head is used to make the sausage. Spicy red pepper flakes are incorporated into the ground pork meat along with other spices, and the flavored meat is stuffed into a casing and hung in a curing chamber for a few weeks. Calabrese is sold in log form with a paper wrapper around it. It can be sliced to the desired thickness before serving. It’s one of my favorite charcuterie meats!
If the salami is thickly cut, it holds up as a vessel for sliced cheddar or goat cheese.
Mortadella is the original version of bologna hailing from Bologna, Italy. This large round sausage is studded with white pork fat and pistachio pieces. Mortadella is made with finely ground pork shoulder, giving it a smooth, creamy texture and fresh hammy flavor. The marbled effect comes from bits of pork fat. Flavorings include myrtle berries, salt, and pepper. Pistachio bits are a distinctive add-in and sometimes green olives are mixed in too. The sausage is cooked for several hours in a low-temperature oven before it’s shipped and distributed to delis.
You can ask the deli to slice the mortadella or cut off a thick round. At home the round can be diced into cubes before serving. Pair mortadella with thinly sliced baguette rounds or mild-flavored crackers. Add a slice of good cheddar cheese and a cornichon for the perfect combo.
Make sure to give prosciutto a spot on your charcuterie board. Prosciutto crudo is an uncooked, dry-cured Italian ham. The curing process begins with the hind leg or thigh of a pig that’s
cleaned, heavily salted and left in a cool, controlled room for two to three months. The salt is then rinsed off and the leg is hung to dry in a cold environment for up to two years.
Prosciutto has a rosy color, marbled with streaks of flavorful white fat. It’s typically sliced paper thin and melts in your mouth. Look for prosciutto in a well-stocked deli. It comes sliced to order and priced by the pound. You can also find prosciutto pre-sliced and packaged near the other deli meats in your local grocery store.
Originating in the Genoa region of Italy, Genoa salami is a favorite for charcuterie meats boards. This salami is made with ground pork or veal and mixed with white wine, garlic, salt and whole white peppercorns. This mixture goes in the casing and is hung to cure for about 10 weeks.
“Uncured” Genoa salami simply means that vinegar, celery powder and sea salt are added for the curing process instead of sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite.
After Genoa salami is cured, it is either wrapped in paper or vacuum-sealed as a whole log. You can find salami pre-sliced and packaged near the other deli meats in your local grocery store.
Genoa salami has a tangy, fermented flavor and visible peppercorns in each slice. The consistency is on the moist and greasy side compared with other hard salamis. Genoa salami pairs well with mild, creamy cheese, like triple cream brie.
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