This post is not about a particularly healthy meal. I know I try to highlight foods in this Colorful Eats series that represent our good-for-you way of eating. But in these challenging and uncertain times, occasionally a little decadence is called for. Sometimes demanded. So when the Home Chef Extraordinaire was trying to come up with his next creation, he went blank. As he struggled with concepts he thought you would enjoy, his writing pad remaining empty for hours, I tried to make some admittedly lame suggestions and after he returned a long blank stare, I offhandedly quipped "Why not NOT cook at all?". It turned out to be the lightbulb in the refrigerator moment he needed. He tossed around a few fantastic ideas with me, some of which will make the blog at later dates. Since it's football season and we are big fans (Kansas City CHIEFS, y'all), we're always in search of the best game time snacks. And what could be more perfect than a beautifully carved wood board rendered invisible by hoards of artisanal meats and cheeses!
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We were new to the world of Charcuterie when we started this project, having only experienced these tantalizing spreads at parties. We've admired the creativity involved in the placement of each food element and wondered if we could create our own delicious, colorful (of course) and aesthetically pleasing version for next Sunday's game. We set out for our local Whole Foods Market to see what ingredients we could discover. We had no real strategy and no list. And it turns out that's the best way to design your own board. No need to overthink it. Just go with what looks goods, tastes divine and appeals to your eye. Just remember - if you choose to go meatless, don't call it Charcuterie. There are rules - meat MUST be involved, so sayeth the cured meat gods. It becomes a snack board without them but those are wonderful too! Here's how our Charcuterie experience took shape:
1. We found the right board to build our platter. Large cutting boards, marble slabs, slate boards or ceramic platters are great options.
2. We selected a variety of meats. Traditional Charcuterie is all about cured meats but since we wanted to stay nitrate-free, we chose Colameco's prosciutto, sopressata, chorizo and salami. This brand also uses no antibiotics and their meats are minimally processed.
3. Cheese? Please! There was an overwhelming array of hard and soft cheeses to choose from. You can't go wrong with your selection. Stay true to your taste buds. We went with cheddars, brie, gouda and gorgonzola.
5. A sliced french baguette and lightly salted crackers were important for creating bite-sized stacks. With all of the savory-spiciness, we balanced the board with a delectable Blood Orange Marmalade, Hot Pepper Jelly, Fig and Ginger Jam and a variety of mustards from Stonewall Kitchen.
6. For fresh fruit, we went with grapes because we already had them but berries and dried fruits are good too.
7. You can certainly use a variety of nuts but we decided on carmelized walnuts because once we tasted them, nothing else mattered.
8. To up the fancy factor, add some fresh rosemary or mint sprigs.
9. Serve with your favorite wine or beer. More important than anything else, have fun arranging and eating your Charcuterie board!
To help you have your own Charcuterie Board Experience, I'm giving away a $100 Whole Foods Market Gift Card! ENTER BELOW!