Cut to the chase
We’re proud Brand Ambassadors for Wusthof Canada and anyone who’s been to our house knows how proud Nelson is of his Wusthof knives and they know how much Nelson loves working with them. Seriously, Nelson kind of geeks-out about his knives as he introduces our friends to them…as if each one is a beloved new addition to our family. “Have you seen my new filet knife? It’s so nice. The other day I cut fish like I was gliding through soft butter”. These are things Nelson actually says to our friends and dinner guests. You’d think he was a knife salesman or that he handcrafted each one himself. Geesh!
I tease…but it’s pretty cool. I think Nelson’s knife skills have improved and I’d guess his confidence in the kitchen has improved too since he started working with proper, sharp, quality knives from Wusthof. Working with the right knife makes the cutting job safer and way easier. If you’ve every tried to cut a tomato with the wrong knife, or one that’s not sharp, you know the squishy, sloppy mess that results. Blah… nobody wants that. Poor tomatoes. Seriously…your tools can make all the difference.
Keeping it simple
The latest knife we received from Wusthof Canada is a sausage knife. Nelson had never worked with a sausage knife before and he wanted to start by cutting cured meats. [Insert Nelson geeking out here]. This past Sunday, he set out to the grocery store on purpose to get some cured meats for his knife.
Sliced cured meats on their own are good, but they’re not very exciting for the blog; however, a charcuterie… now that’s sexy.
Charcuterie sounds like something that’s reserved for fancy restaurants — maybe as a starter, perhaps with a cocktail, while chefs in tall foofy white chef hats delicately prepare your main course. Well, we’re here to say, “Not so!”. This is not out of reach and it should not be reserved for special dinners in fancy restaurants.
So, as Nelson was selecting cured meats, he started craving cheese too, some cooked meats, then he thought of his mom’s homemade passionfruit jam, and some bread. Mmmm… you see where he was going, right. Nelson got home and set to work preparing his first charcuterie. As expected, the sausage knife performed beautifully. In that moment as I watched Nelson create with meats and cheese and crackers, like an artist at his canvas, I was wishing we had a beautiful wood charcuterie board (wouldn’t that look great for serving…and photographing for our blog!). I pressed my nose against the patio door and fell into a trance staring at our maple tree—standing tall and strong in our back yard. Nelson caught me lost in thought and snapped me back to reality as he muttered, “don’t get any crazy ideas”. Lol (don’t send hate mail…. I would never 😉
A charcuterie (fun French word) might be described as a no-cooking required, simple platter or hors d’oeuvre, of cured meats and deli meats. However, we’ve discovered that a lot of thought and preparation goes into creating well-balanced platters that will delight the eyes and tastebuds.
Basically, in terms of the meats, you don’t want to use only cured meats because that would be too salty, so you want to include some cooked meats too, like cooked ham. You also want some kick, but don’t overwhelm the platter with too much heat. Balancing flavours, textures, and heat is important. Maybe not traditionally, but a charcuterie can (dare I say should) be about more than just meats. Add additional items (aka accoutrements) such as pickled vegetables, fruit like grapes, olives, and even jams for sweetness, plus some cheese and bread. We included breadsticks, bite-sized toasted bread, crackers, and baguette. Ask a cheese expert for advice on cheese that will work well with the salty cured meats. Nelson loves cheese…lots of different types…so for our platter, he chose cheese that he liked and thought would work well with the meats he chose.
Nelson didn’t get hung up on too many rules, nor did he follow anyone’s prescription for how this ‘should’ be done. Nelson took the basic ideas and made it what he wanted it to be…for us. That’s how he keeps things fun in the kitchen.
Voila (more French)…there you have it. Nelson’s first (and not his last) charcuterie.
Not just for before the main course
At first, Nelson started creating this platter as an hors d’oeurve to enjoy before dinner (plus we know he couldn’t wait to try out his new sausage knife), but then as he added elements, it was reminding him of some of the simple times he shared eating fresh bread, cheese, and cured meats, with his parents, back when he lived in the Azores. We decided this would be our dinner to close off our weekend. Delicious and nostalgic.
Have some fun with flavours and textures. Create your own platter of goodness that works for you, and eat well, friends!
Guests are on their way and you want to impress them with a beautiful and delicious treat. No time to cook? No problem!
- 100 g (3.5 oz) genoa salami
- 100 g (3.5 oz) spicy cured chorizo
- 100 g (3.5 oz) cured prosciutto
- 100 g (3.5 oz) smoked ham
- 1 small brie cheese wheel
- 150 g (5.3 oz) soft unripened cranberry goats cheese
- 1 Boursin® cheese, with garlic and fine herbs
- 3 tbsp dijon mustard
- 3 tbsp grainy dijon mustard
- 100 g (3.5 oz) Antipasto Calabrese (hot pickled mixed vegetables in oil)
- 100 g (3.5 oz) olives, stuffed with red pepper
- 3 tbsp fig jam
- Assortment of crackers, breadsticks, and crusty bread
Slice your meats and cheese as you wish.
Assemble everything on one or two large wood cutting boards as you please! Yup... just two step! Enjoy!
There's really no right or wrong in our opinion. The key to a delicious charcuterie board is using quality/premium products. Experiment with different meats, cheese, sweet jams, fresh fruit, veggies and crusty breads.