The Art of Charcuterie 101

The Art of Charcuterie 101

A How-To on Fall Charcuterie with Cafe 44 Executive Chef, Nicki Lewis

Story by Alexandria Lindstrom | Photography by Nicki Lewis

“In the restaurant world, a charcuterie board typically refers to an array of artisan cheeses, cured meats, pickles, jams, honey, nuts or bread,” said Nicki Lewis, executive chef at Cafe 44. While there’s a standard blueprint for all the necessary elements, a plan on which to build the board will yield the greatest results. “An ideal assortment would be two to four meats and cheeses, a jam, something pickled, something sweet, something savory, and something with crunch. There should both be firm and soft cheeses as well as hard and soft meats, and it’s important to remember that having a variety of textures is key in order to keep everyone’s palate satisfied. It’s also crucial to offer balance in flavors: the salty, the sweet, the acidic,” Lewis continued.

The charcuterie board is also a great place to explore seasonal flavors, and autumn offers fresh produce, spices, and other delights that make our taste buds rejoice. “My fall go-tos are fresh figs, apples, and root vegetables, and the many types of fall squash,” Lewis said.

When putting a charcuterie board together, one must consider the size of the gathering. “A good ratio per person would be two to four meats and cheeses, 2 ounces of a seasonal jam, 2 ounces of a pickled vegetable, a small handful of dark chocolate chips – the salty meats and dark chocolate pair perfectly – a small handful of a lightly salted nut, a few figs or any fresh fruit, a crunchy cracker, and a salty piece of focaccia.” For tools, Lewis recommends a spreader for soft cheeses, mini tongs, demitasse spoons, and skewers for easy picking. It’s also best to only let it sit out for a few hours unrefrigerated to avoid spoiling. Set the assortment out with some fine wine, et voila! You’ll forever be known as a culinary genius – and we know that’s something you can get on board with.

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