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Mix it up with charcuterie boards

Anything goes on a charcuterie board, the perfect snack tray for holiday parties, including when ringing in the new year. Choose local specialities to mix in with favorite flavors and artistically arrange different colors and textures.

Charcuterie, pronounced shar-koo-tuh-ree, is simply a collection of prepared or cured meats and cheeses, as well as other foods that complement them, artfully arranged on a board. In addition to a board or tray, you will need small cups and bowls for loose items, sauces, and dips. Spreaders, spoons, small cutting knives, and toothpicks might be necessary depending on your offerings.

A basic charcuterie board should include meats, cheeses, and other foods in curated pairings based on flavor. Sweet, savory, salty, and spicy flavors can all be represented. Foods with different tastes, textures, and temperatures will let those who partake have fun experimenting with different — and sometimes unlikely — combinations. Any board or tray will do, but one made from mesquite or cedar adds a Texas Hill Country touch.

Start by selecting prepared or cured meats for your board. After all, meat is the star of this show. A few favorites are sausage, pepperoni, salami, prosciutto, ham, and pâté. For Texas flavor, add venison jerky or boar sausage slices. Offer a variety of textures: cubed, delicate shavings, thickly sliced, rustic crumbles, smooth and spreadable.

Then, choose your cheeses. Cheese should be pre-sliced, cubed, or easily spreadable. Serve cheese at room temperature or warm to allow the flavor to come out. Gouda, gruyere, brie, camembert, roquefort, cheddar, and Colby Jack are often in the mix. Fruited, herbed cheeses, or a nice warm brie are wonderful selections.

Round up accoutrements — things that will be eaten in combination with the other items on the board — to complete the selections. Breads, toasts, crackers, jam, fresh or dried fruit, honey, nuts, olives, hummus, and pickled veggies fit the bill. Simply go with your favorites — or things you are eager to try.

Now, it’s go time. Arrange selections on the board or tray. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to put together a charcuterie board. As you fill the board, leave a bit of empty space for the eye to wander.

Put a festive twist on your board by going with a theme. Themes could include regional foods, holidays, colors, kid-friendly, keto-friendly, etc. You might even consider a non-traditional charcuterie for breakfast or dessert.

Charcuterie Choices

Classic Simple Charcuterie Board

Peppered salami, prosciutto, ham, sausage; Monterey Jack cheese, cheddar cheese, fresh mozzarella balls, warm brie; dried apricots, grapes, diced tomatoes, olives; toast crisps, buttery crackers, sliced pita bread, wheat crackers; almonds, jam, honey, hummus.

Texas Charcuterie Board

Brisket bites, chicken fajita meat, chorizo, bacon; melted queso, Colby Jack cheese, jalapeño Muenster cheese, cranberry pecan cheeseball; cornbread bites, flour tortilla slices, tortilla chips, crackers; pico de gallo, pickled jalapeños, spiced candied pecans, peach jam.

Breakfast Charcuterie Board

Bacon strips, crumbled breakfast sausage, sliced steak, scrambled eggs; brie, mild cheddar cheese, fruited cheese wedge; toasted raisin bread, waffle wedges, sliced baguette, breadsticks; blueberries, jam, white gravy, salsa.

Kid-Friendly Charcuterie Board

Pepperoni, cubed ham, mini-sausages, sliced turkey; American cheese, baby Swiss, mozzarella string cheese sticks, cream cheese spread; bagel crisps, crackers, cheese puffs, crustless bread; grape jelly, peanut butter, dried cranberries, tiny tomatoes, apple slices.

Now, what would you put on a tray that represents your style?

jgreenwell@thepicayune.com

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