With explosive flavours and Insta-worthy arrangements, it’s no surprise charcuterie has made a recent resurgence in the culinary world. Home cooks and culinary connoisseurs flock to local delis to stock up on cured meats, artisan cheeses and all the accompaniments to build an enviable charcuterie spread.
If you’ve been to an event at the Edmonton Convention Centre, you may have enjoyed one of our charcuterie boards complete with Meuwly’s meats and Old School Cheesery cheese. In fact, the menu item is so popular that last year, we partnered with Meuwly’s to offer classes for Edmonton foodies. Charcuterie Night with Canada’s Top Chefs is the perfect date night where guests learn how to incorporate the art of charcuterie into their own kitchens. Did you miss Charcuterie Night with Canada’s Top Chefs on July 11 and 12? The Edmonton Convention Centre culinary team and our friends at Meuwly’s have you covered with four tips to help you craft a chef-level charcuterie night at home.
1. Choose a variety of textures and flavours
Start by selecting a variety of meats like prosciutto, dry-cured sausage, salami, capicola, sopressata, mortadella, chorizo and even pâté. Vary slicing thickness—light hams like prosciutto and capicola are best when sliced thin, where sausages and chorizo can be sliced thick. Next, choose a combination of hard and soft cheeses ranging in flavour from mild to sharp. Texture is often overlooked in cooking—pickles, fresh vegetables, crispy breads and crackers provide a welcome crunch next to the softness of meat and cheese.
“Charcuterie meats are often heavy on fat and salt, so garnishing your board with bright flavours and tart/sweet ingredients can help create balance. At Meuwly’s we make spicy pickled carrots with coriander and orange blossom which provides a splash of fresh citrus aroma. In the summer, take advantage of the fruits in peak season—slices of fresh nectarine or any type of berries can complement the meats and cheeses nicely.” – Peter Keith, Chef and Meuwly’s co-owner.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to experiment with unexpected flavor combinations! An apple preserve pairs well with fennel salami and honey tastes amazing when drizzled over goat cheese or brie. Are you overwhelmed by the pairing possibilities? Peter Keith recommends grabbing a copy of The Flavor Bible, which serves as an encyclopedia of ingredients and complementary pairings.
2. Choose quality, local and ethically sourced products
Originally from Gatineau, Quebec, Edmonton Convention Centre Executive Chef Serge Belair searched far-and-wide for local Alberta cheese curd that could compare to the product from back home. It was in this quest that Chef Serge stumbled upon Old School Cheesery. Besides offering cheese curd that Serge insists tops that of back home, Old School Cheesery offers a variety of locally produced artisan cheese products that often make their way onto charcuterie boards served at our venue.
You really can taste the difference a happy and humanely raised animal makes. At Meuwly’s, all meat is sourced from local producers with a focus on humane and free-range farming. When you purchase from Meuwly’s, you are getting a high-quality product with no added filler ingredients. And as a bonus, you’ll be supporting your neighbours!
3. Choose a focal point and build from there
Once you have your ingredients, begin by artfully arranging them on a large wood or stone platter. A mason jar of bread sticks, a trailing path of sopressata or a giant slab of gouda all make for a great focal point from which to continue building. You can create rosettes by folding lighter meats into quarters, stack thicker meats or roll longer slices. Present your cheese in a variety of forms—full blocks, cubed and cut into triangles. Don’t forget the accoutrements! Place a variety of preserves like grainy mustard, truffle honey or apricot jam in small jars. Fill in the gaps with nuts, dried fruits, grapes or fresh herbs.
Ideally, you will arrange your platter within a few hours of serving. If you need to prepare your charcuterie board ahead of time, you’ll want to take steps to ensure it doesn’t dry out. Meuwly’s recommends gently pressing sheets of wax paper against the sliced meats before wrapping the whole board tightly with plastic wrap. Avoid spreading out sliced cured meats too much, as more surface area will lead to more drying
4. Charcuterie is a social sport
There’s nothing quite like picking away at a platter of meats, cheeses and preserves that encourages conversation among friends and family. Half the fun is in continuing to experiment with which flavors and wines pair best together. Your local wine store will be able to suggest wine pairings that work best with your selection of cured meats and cheeses. Heavy, spicy salamis pair well with a light-bodied red like a Beaujolais, whereas prosciutto and lighter hams pair well with sweeter whites like Riesling. Alternatively, you can match your charcuterie and wines by region—the choices are endless and each pairing will create a deliciously unique experience.
Meuwly’s is known for their house-made meat products, sausages, pickles and preserves. Along with their retail store on 124 street, Meuwly’s products can be sampled on the menus at some of your favourite Edmonton eateries including District Café, Three Boars, Woodwork, Clementine and the Edmonton Convention Centre.
Stay tuned for details about our upcoming culinary events, including the next Charcuterie Night with Canada’s Top Chefs.
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