A feast for more than your taste buds, a well-balanced charcuterie board effectively combines food with art to create one aesthetically pleasing display. In recent years, charcuterie boards went well beyond the typical cheese and meat offering to explore new territory with breakfast foods, build-your-own tacos, ‘jar’cuterie and more. While charcuterie still makes for a pretty and popular entertaining option, it started more as a necessity than a luxury.
IN THE BEGINNING
The concept of using salt to cure and preserve meat, by extracting the moisture, has ancient roots. Well before the invention of refrigeration, cool basements were used to store food. However, it was the French who pioneered “modern” charcuterie in the 15th century, finding that preservation could help to ensure that no food was wasted. While European charcuterie still remains simple, boards in the United States have become increasingly unique.
A PERFECT COMBINATION
Traditional boards contain an assortment of meats, cheeses and artisan bread often accompanied by olives, fruit and nuts.
“Over time, chefs have had the opportunity to put their own touch on charcuterie and play with proteins,” says Armando Gomez, executive sous chef for The Cloister at Sea Island. Gomez oversees Tavola, River Bar & Lounge plus inroom dining at the resort. “For a balanced board, we use the ‘rule of three,’” Gomez states. “Three cheeses, three meats, three breads and three treats.”
With no set menu, he aims for variation in both the texture and flavor of the meats. Some of his most popular selections are dry-aged salami, bresaola, pancetta and duck prosciutto plus fresh options like “rillettes” (seasoned meat slow-cooked in fat) or “pâté en croute” (pâté in a pastry crust), often found at River Bar.
For cheese, Gomez offers this tip to at-home entertainers: “Start your board with a soft cheese, a hard or semi-firm cheese and a ‘unique’ cheese. At Sea Island, we partner with local producers like Sweet Grass Dairy for singular offerings like Thomasville Tomme and Lil’ Moo.”
Balance is key. In addition to seasonal fruit, Sea Island creates their own jams, competes and pickled vegetables. These additions are important because they add a needed acidity to the platter, “that helps cut through the rich cured meats,” Gomez instructs.
The sky is the limit when it comes to charcuterie boards, and nothing proved that more than the new creative versions that have taken the internet by storm. You can now find a board for any occasion.