The Charcuterie Board
Holiday entertaining made easy
I love a charcuterie board any time of year. It’s a staple for when guests drop by or when the girls are home, we always put one together. In fact, last year over the holidays, it was my youngest daughter, Aubrey Rose’s job to gather ingredients and prepare a charcuterie board throughout the holidays for our family which included a vegan and vegetarian. She was pretty excited about the prospect and undertook a lot of cheese research and meat and cheese alternatives. We were well stocked and then a giant snow storm locked us down for many days. My brother and his family were stranded at home, other friends too were unable to navigate roads. We had a lot of cheese and meats and I dare say that we were “charcuteried” out when the holidays had passed. No one could see another piece of salami or brie!
One of the first books I purchased when moving to the farm was called Charcuterie, by Michael Rhulman, Brian Polcyn and foreword by Thomas Keller. I read this book so many times during those first months of living at the farm, trying different recipes, imagining a future where I might make my own cured meats. The word charcuterie - a french word refers to the “art” of preparing cured and smoked meats. That is how I look at it, an art form. Learning how to cure and smoke meats is a process, and it takes mostly time. It takes time to cure meat with salts, smoke, sugar, herbs and spices in an even, consistent temperature for a certain period of time, sometimes days. Improper curing and not following food safety guidelines can lead to very bad things like bacterial growth which can basically make you very sick or even kill you. So it’s not a good thing to fool around with.
It was a dream of mine to have a smokehouse, to cure, preserve all things from vegetables, to fish, meats, and cheese. I began the curing journey with simple things that I could do safely without worry. I started with my weber bbq and graduated to a smoker. My parents gave me the smoker when I started South Pond, it was my first real piece of equipment and I used it all the time. I made cold smoked trout turning it into paté with fresh dill and lemon. So good. I packaged it in small lovely jars refrigerated - and put it alongside homemade crackers in my Weekend Baskets to Go my first adventure in the hospitality business.