Charcuterie quite literally means ‘cooked flesh’ and is derived from the French words CHAR (flesh) and CUITE (cooked)2.
This method of curing meats is an ancient food preparation technique that was a necessity prior to the 1900’s . Recently, however, it has ascended to the top of food and drink hot lists. In fact, charcuterie ranks as the second most popular dining trend according to a recent 2016 survey of nearly 500 Canadian chefs, second only to the monstrous craft beer craze.
An honorable loss.
Donna Dooher, president and CEO of Restaurants Canada shares her thoughts on the phenomenon: “I thought it had peaked out a few years ago, but it’s still going strong,” she said. “It’s coming back to the use of the secondary cuts of meat so I think it is tied to the craft, the artisan…”4
Inexpensive and underused cuts of meat like beef cheek, brisket, pork shoulder, and skirt steak ranked 8th on the list. Dooher remarked, “We see these secondary cuts are actually packed with flavour and nutrition and people are recognizing there is a lot of value to them… [Their popularity is] also driven by the high cost of beef that we’re experiencing today.”5
These meats are cooked, not by heat, but by extracting moisture, a method that can be used to cook any meat involving salting, smoking or drying. The process is seen as risky for many since there is no guarantee how well the meats will turn out in the end. It can also be expensive since this process relies on reduction which requires the chef to shrink larger cuts of meat to arrive at the final product, much like other cured meats and pickling methods. Hanging meat also takes up valuable inventory space in coolers.6
Regardless of its slow and labor intensive process, charcuterie is popping up on menus everywhere, a sign of the public’s cry for ‘back to basics’ food and drink.
If you have not yet crafted your own charcuterie board, but are itching to try, we have some valuable tips for you.
For starters, you want to have three types of meat on your board:
- Cooked or boiled ‘fresh meats’
- Air dried, salted, and hung meats, and
- Fermented meats
Include meats with different flavor profiles that lead the customer through a mild, savory, and spicy dining experience. Next, finish off the platter with other compliments like quality nuts, cheeses, and mustard.7 These rules can be deviated from, of course, but they serve as a great starting point for a classic charcuterie board.
Maybe some of you are wondering about what drinks to pair with your board? We’ve got you covered there too. Some general tips:
- Keep things cheap and cheerful
- White wine can work just as well as red, and
- Make friends with Sherry and Barbera
According to Jake Skakun, the sommelier at L’Abattoir, a new Vancouver restaurant specializing in French-inspired food, the top pairing partner for charcuterie is Sherry, particularly the drier types like fino, manzanilla, and amontillado. Sherry serves as a great complement to charcuterie because its acidity can cut through the fattiest meats. Medium bodied red wines and rosés also work well. Keep in mind though that there is no need to spend time trying to pair wines with each individual meat type. Keep things simple and don’t overthink it. Lastly, in terms of beer, most recommend a good quality lager or an India Pale Ale.8
Though charcuterie is a rising trend, it seems that it’s here to stay. If you are a restaurant looking to incorporate this dish into your own menu, you should find it accessible to source and work with local producers of charcuterie meats to create an amazing platter. Of course, if you are the DIY type, you can try your own hand at the craft to give your guests an authentic experience they won’t soon forget.
These American Metalcraft serving boards will help create an amazing charcuterie experience for your guests. Contact your sales rep to order:
Note: All products are special order, sold in case pack only
1Charcuterie: Food Trends. Whole Foods Market. Retrieved from:
2Charcuterie Renaissance. Waterloo Region Eats. Retrieved from:
3Charcuterie: Food Trends. Whole Foods Market. Retrieved from:
4Fashionable foods: Craft beer, charcuterie earn top marks in survey of chefs. CTV News Kitchener.
Retrieved from: kitchener.ctvnews.ca/fashionable-foods-craft-beer-charcuterie-earn-top-marks-in-survey-of-chefs-1.2772622
5Fashionable foods: Craft beer, charcuterie earn top marks in survey of chefs. CTV News Kitchener. Retrieved from:
6Charcuterie Renaissance. Waterloo Region Eats. Retrieved from:
7Charcuterie: Food Trends. Whole Foods Market. Retrieved from:
8The charcuterie wine-pairing challenge. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from: