In French, a “charcuterie” is a butcher shop dealing with pork, but we use it nowadays (in this country) to refer to most smoked and cured meats, and even more recently to an antipasto or appetizer board full of meats, cheeses, fruits and crackers. These boards are all the rage right now, and for good reason. Unless you have particularly picky eaters, there will be something on every board for every guest – even vegetarians and vegans – though the real fans are usually those that enjoy meats and cheeses. This can be a starter or the whole meal, served with a selection of wines, beers, ciders or soft drinks.
Your board can be teak, maple, walnut, marble, or just a piece of parchment on the ol’ kitchen counter. Lumber yards will probably sell you a piece of scrap you can take home, sand and oil.
In order to please everyone, it’s important to think about your choices. For cheeses, choose at least 3 – a hard, a soft and something in between; something mild, something sharp, something in between. Same for meats – try a pate, a salami, smoked salmon and some thin sliced rare beef. Fill in the gaps with fresh or dried fruit (berries, cherries, dried apricots) and nuts – salted or not, roasted or not, flavored or not – olives, cornichon… the list goes on. Dips and spreads. And for goodness sake, don’t forget the crackers and/or thinly sliced baguette, bagel chips or crostini!
In short, you can build a beautiful charcuterie board out of almost any kind of nibbly finger food, often things you already have in your pantry. You can spend a lot on exotic meats and cheeses, or use what you can find precut at your local grocer. Following are some recipes for two kinds of chutney and pickled onions, but whether you make your own or buy it (we have a lovely fig jam and a selection of Stonewall Kitchen jams and jellies), your board is going to be a hit!
A glorified ketchup, with bits of onion throughout. Great on burgers or on your board with cheeses and meats.
1 # Tomatoes (peeled, cored, and coarse diced)
1 Tbsp Garlic, roughly cut
¼ C Onion, coarsely chopped
¾ C Brown Sugar
3 Tbsp Sugar
? C Apple Cider Vinegar or Red Wine Vinegar
1 teasp Salt
the zest and juice of 1 lime
1 teasp Powdered Ginger
¼ teasp Chili Pepper Flakes (more or less as desired)
¼ teasp Ground Cumin,
¼ cup Golden or Dark Raisins
¼ teasp Black Pepper
Combine all ingredients in a heavy-bottomed 4-6 quart pot.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook up to 2 hours, or until slightly thickened (stirring often to prevent scorching).
Season to taste.
If canning, transfer the chutney into canning jars, leaving ¼” space at the top.
Bring canning water bath to a boil, and submerge at a medium boil for 10 minutes.
Remove jars and cool for 24 hours before storing in a cool, dark place.
Soooooo good! Eat them any way you want – sandwiches, burgers, salads – and of course on your boards!
2 small red onions, sliced
2 c red wine vinegar
? c cane sugar
2 tbsp sea salt
2 garlic cloves
1 teasp mixed peppercorns
1 Tbsp Dried Thyme
2 c boiling water
Slice onions and place in a bowl with all other ingredients except water.
Boil water and pour over.
Cover and allow to sit until cool.
Put in an airtight container and refrigerate.
Eat within a week.
Again, eat with meats, cheeses, burgers and sandwiches – but also try it with your next curry!
8 oz Apples, peeled cored and cubed
8 oz Red or Yellow Onions, peeled and sliced
3 oz Raisins, yellow or brown
3 oz Apple Cider Vinegar
3 oz Sugar
1 teasp Salt
1 ½ teasp Ginger, Orange Zest, Anise, Cardamom – alone or in combination
Place all ingredients together in a Dutch oven and bring to a boil, stirring to avoid burning.
Reduce heat to a light simmer and cook for 90-120 minutes.
Transfer immediately to sterilized jars, leaving ¼” at the top and screw on lids not too tightly.
When the tops pop, tighten the lids and store in a cool dry place.