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Best meats for charcuterie board

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Salty, smoky, and spicy, dry cured meats make a great addition on a charcuterie board. Whether it is served as an appetizer or full meal, it is a low-maintenance way of offering an assortment of foods to guests that are guaranteed to keep them happy and entertained. 

The board for charcuterie comes with different meats and cheeses paired with bread, fruits, jams, mustard and crackers. The meats offer a savory side to blend well with wine, and also the sweet and crunchy textures on the board.

What are the best meats for a charcuterie board? Sausages, salamis and hams are typically the best meats for creating a charcuterie board. 

The most frequently used options are Italian dry salami and prosciutto. Furthermore, genoa salami, sopressata, calabrese, chorizo, capocollo, mortadella, and pate is great selections as well.

When assembling a charcuterie board, the key is proteins to add different levels with layers of flavors and texture. It is best to select cured meats that have varying flavor including salty, spicy, dry, and rich to give variety on the board. 

The meats and cheeses are the center of attention, but sadly not all cured or uncured meats are suitable for a charcuterie board. This article tells you the different meat varieties of meat to include on your charcuterie board.

Is charcuterie meat only?

No, charcuterie is not meat only. In fact, a typical charcuterie board contains both cheeses and meat with a variety of garnishes like nuts, bread, fruits and condiments like mustard, honey, olives and pickles. 

Some meats on the board include prosciutto and salami, while most boards have aged gouda and cheddar as common cheese varieties. 

But this does not limit one from creating a vegetarian charcuterie board with fake meat and plant-based cheese. In addition, you can easily opt out of using meat by replacing with crackers, sandwiches, desserts, candies, and chips to make easy party, holiday, or dessert based platters. 

What meats go on a charcuterie board?

Creating balance of flavor as well as nutrients is important when it comes to building a charcuterie board. Therefore, adding numerous kind of dry cured meats to the board is crucial.

Here are the best meats to include on a charcuterie board:

  • Prosciutto: This is a must-have charcuterie. Prosciutto comes in different types, so always select one with age since it is higher quality and richer flavor. Pair this meat with cheeses such as burrata, mozzarella or hard cheeses such as parmesan. It can be wrapped around fresh fruit slices such as melon for a sweet and salty combo.
  • Sopressata: Included in uncured salami, it is made with lean pork and lard that gives the signature chewy texture and flavors that can range from sweet to salty or spicy. Serve with pinot noir, brie cheese, and figs or fruit marmalade. 
  • Calabrase: To add a spicy kick to the charcuterie board, calabrase salami will do the trick. This pork sausage usually thickly cut and holds up as a vessel for goat cheese and cheddar cheese as well as with cabernet wine, pears, and honey.
  • Chorizo: If you are looking for fully-cured or cooked meat options, consider Spanish chorizo. It is both spicy and sweet with a hint of smoky flavor that complements well with asiago cheese and IPAs.
  • Capocollo: Similar to prosciutto, but has a delicate flavor and fatty texture. Made with pork neck, the reddish pink color gives aesthetic feel to the meat. Pair with gorgonzola, whole grain crackers, peppercorn, and Riesling for best result. 
  • Mortadella: Loaded with creamy fat, the silky texture makes an interesting addition to a charcuterie board. When serving mortadella on a platter, serve with ricotta cheese, toasted sourdough bread, olive oil to dip in and a glass of Chianti. 
  • Pate: Easy to spread on toast or a cracker, serve smaller amounts of pate made from meat with pickled vegetables. Generally made with liver, there are lots of flavors that pair well with radish, dill, baguette and a glass of Rosé. 
  • Genoa salami: this is one of the best meats to include on a charcuterie board because it provides a tart flavor and soft texture to the pairings. Serve it with stone fruit, cashews and gruyere for a balance of taste and texture.

Most popular meats for a charcuterie board

With these various cured meat, there are two popular selections that complement a charcuterie board without overpowering any cheese or crackers. 

The most popular meats for a charcuterie board include:

  • Italian dry salami: Thin sliced pork sausage with spices and red wine that has been fermented and air-dried makes a bold taste that blends well with cheeses. 
  • Prosciutto: Soft and super fine thin layer of fat combines into a salty and savory taste. Not only does it melt in your mouth, but it creates beautiful shape and curves to make the platter design aesthetically appealing. 

These two types of cured meats are a great starter when building a charcuterie board. When other flavors tend to be overwhelming, go with these two and add cheeses that appeal to your comfort level.

Best meat for charcuterie board

Charcuterie Meats: Conclusion 

Meat is the star on most charcuterie boards, and therefore selecting the right ones is paramount. As a foundational rule, always go for quality over quantity

Be sure to mix and match or select one and serve it alongside different cheeses. Choose one or two popular types, then add more unique varieties to give the guests a new taste experience. 

As a beginner, Italian dry salami and prosciutto are the two most popular meats to serve on a charcuterie board. To expand your taste buds, also try adding genoa salami, soppressata, calabresa, Spanish chorizo, capicola, mortadella, and pate. 

When serving these special unique cooked and cured meats, consider pairing the right cheese, spread or jam, and wine to accomplish the ultimate culinary experience. Once you select the proper meats, the rest of the charcuterie board will fall in place.

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