One of my favorite things about Disney World is the food. Seriously, it is some of the best I’ve ever had, and I absolutely love good food! We happened to make a reservation at a new restaurant on Disney World’s Boardwalk during our trip earlier this year in June, a place called Trattoria al Forno. Let me tell you: their charcuterie was to die for. It was hands down the best charcuterie I’ve ever had. In the hopes of recreating even just a glimpse of how splendid Trattoria’s platter was, I set about to create the ultimate charcuterie!
The key to assembling a charcuterie that people will love is to think outside the box. We’ve all tried goat cheese. We all love prosciutto. And while keeping some of the classics in the mix is a good idea, it’s also nice to try to find a balance between the usual items that everybody will love and the new, interesting, and different items that people will love to sample because they’ve never tried them before!
For example, for my charcuterie, I kept some of the classics that we love:
- salty prosciutto,
- creamy burrata, and
- a smokey fish pâté that my fiancé absolutely loves.
I also mixed it up with some things we have never tried before, like
- an herb-crusted salami,
- drunken goat’s cheese (what!?), and
- a mustardy new cheddar from our local market.
The other thing to consider is how many people will you be serving? When it is a multitude of people, you can go all out and try all different sorts of things (within your budget, of course!). When it is just us two, however, the price of “charcuterie items” can add up. So we try to also buy items we know we can easily incorporate into other dishes later in the week. For example, burrata is one of our favorite pizza toppings, and there is just never a shortage of recipes involving prosciutto that I want to try! (This one is a favorite!) You can also try to buy meats and cheeses that could be reused for sandwiches the next day for lunch or dinner.
Try a couple of different types of meat, such as
- a dry cured whole-muscle cut of meat (i.e. meats that can be thinly sliced, perfect for stacking on a sandwich or a crostini) such as prosciutto, and
- a cured hard sausage that can be sliced into thicker slices and placed on crackers.
While technically cheeses are not a component of a charcuterie, I like to include two or three cheeses because they can really complement the smokey and salty flavors of the cured meats:
- a creamy cheese like a burrata or goat’s cheese that can be spread on crostini, and
- a block cheese, such as a uniquely flavored cheddar or a gruyere that can be sliced and placed on crackers.
This is where you can really get creative, in my opinion! There are so many options for different types of “spread” items to add to your charcuterie, including:
- pâté’s, which you can make at home or purchase at your favorite local market,
- dips, such as spinach dip or smoked salmon dip, which are perfect for pita bread and crostini,
- mustards! Check out the fancy mustard section at your local grocery store and pick up a special one just use for your charcuterie, and
- jams or chutneys, which can add a beautiful contrast to the smokey/salty meats and the creamy cheeses.
And of course, we need something on which to eat all these delicious meats and cheeses! The vessel is a hugely important component of your charcuterie because it can really complement the meats and cheeses if the correct type of “vessel” is chosen. Some choices include:
- crackers, which work well for sliced cheeses and meats,
- crostini, or sliced pieces of bread which are quickly toasted under the broiler and work well for spreading pâté’s or creamier cheeses,
- veggies like cherry tomatoes or even baby carrots, which are perfect for dips, and
- pita bread slices, which can be warmed up in the oven and are perfect for pates, creamy cheeses, and dips!
This goes without saying, but the last component that is crucial to a successful charcuterie is a great wine or two. If you aren’t familiar with good wine pairings for your meats or cheeses, visit your local sommelier or upscale wine store to get a couple of ideas. Usually one red and one white should do the trick, but you can be as fancy as you want (think wine pairings for each type of charcuterie item!).
Now it’s your turn to assemble a killer charcuterie and post your photos on Instagram! Be sure to tag #thecharmingdetroiter for a chance to be featured!