One of today’s hottest food trends is charcuterie (pronounced: shar-koo-tur-ee). This term includes many tasty specialty meats – smoked hams, sausages, prosciutto, salami and others – that are equally at home in a sandwich or on a chic party platter with specialty cheeses and artisanal breads.
Preparing a Charcuterie Board
Create an artfully arranged charcuterie board for your next party. Select cured meats and snacky sides that look and taste great. Build your collection on a wooden cutting board or platter. Add a variety of cuts, including firmer cuts such as sliced prosciutto and softer meats such as mortadella, which can be cubed. For nibbles, add tiny cornichon pickles and olives for a briny accent. Provide coarsely ground mustard for bite, as well as nuts—Marcona almonds are perfect. Include one or two familiar cheeses and a stack of sliced crostini or crackers so partygoers can assemble little sandwiches.
A Finely Crafted Food
In a broad sense, charcuterie describes the practice of preserving meat and includes foodstuffs such as bacon, sausage, and prosciutto. Cooks have been practicing this craft for millennia. You can find charcuterie meats at any Hy-Vee, and some stores now have charcuterie departments.
- Prosciutto: Salted and aged for up to two years, prosciutto has a flavor often described as sweet with a silky finish. In Italian cuisine, prosciutto is often served as a first course or as an ingredient in dishes such as chicken saltimbocca. Proscuitto goes well with fruits and vegetables.
- Mortadella: This smooth-textured sausage is made of finely ground meat, which is about 15 percent fat and flavored with seasonings, peppercorns and pistachios. Think gourmet bologna. It’s typically sliced paper-thin and makes excellent sandwiches.
- Sopressata: An Italian hard sausage, this spicy pork is like pepperoni but with an edible white bloom. In fact, sopressata is a popular topping among trendy pizzerias and goes with pickled vegetables and bold cheeses.
- Coppa: Sometimes called capocollo, coppa is similar to prosciutto but comes from the shoulder of the pig rather than the leg. It is often seasoned with wine and garlic, then rubbed with paprika and aged for up to 6 months. It is sometimes roasted or smoked. Thinly sliced, coppa is an excellent filling for panini.
- Salami: A hard pork sausage, salami has a rich, spicy flavor. Sometimes called pepperoni’s milder cousin, salami has a slight tanginess that comes from a brief fermentation. It can be used anywhere pepperoni is used, such as on pizza, but is equally appealing on a sandwich or a party platter.
Source: Hy-Vee Seasons Health 2016.