Charcuterie is a culinary specialty that originally referred to the creation of pork products such as salami, sausages, and prosciutto, and is true food artisanship, the art of turning preserved food into items of beauty and taste. The term encompasses a vast range of preparations, most of which involve salting, cooking, smoking, and drying.

The Food Lover’s Companion also says, “it refers to the products, particularly (but not limited to) pork specialties such as pâtés, rillettesgalantinescrépinettes, etc.”

Thanks to jillianharris.com, here are a few tips to put together a striking charcuterie board that will leave your guests breathless. Say goodbye to the spinach dip.

  1. The Board – Use a large wooden (food safe) board plus rustic glasses or mason jars for grissini or condiments and a variety of small and large bowls for olives and spreads. Make sure every cheese and spread has its own knife or spoon.
  2. The Cheese – Try soft, medium and hard cheeses and leave them whole for guests to cut themselves.
  3. The Meat – The possibilities are endless but variety is crucial. Select thin slices of prosciutto, dry cured salami, chorizo sausage. Have 3 – 4 different options for guests to choose.
  4. The Bread – Look for Grissini (Italian bread sticks), fresh baguette and a variety of flatbreads. Use your imagination!
  5. The Fruit – Compliment the meat and cheese with fresh and dried fruit adding whatever is in season to the table for both décor and a healthy twist to an indulgent treat. A big bowl of plums, fresh figs or dried apricots scattered among the meat and cheese, and sliced apples, pears or nectarines are all great additions
  6. The Other stuff – Here is where it gets interesting. Walnuts, olives, antipasto, fresh honey, fig spreads, pepper or wine jelly, tapenade and marinated vegetables will make the board stand out from the rest.
  7. Putting it together – it’s best to make the board about 30 minutes before serving to allow the cheese to come to room temperature and don’t leave the board out for longer than 2 hours at room temperature for food safety reasons.
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