Charcuterie Explained In a Couple Bites

Charcuterie is a delicious platter of different savory meats. Originally, it developed as a means of preserving meat and was thus a process of necessity. Today, meats are salted, cured, seasoned and spiced for their flavor. From sausages to terrines, charcuterie sits at the forefront of fine dining.

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The Types of Meats


The meats used in this culinary art may come from any animal and often any part, but many are considered forcemeats. Forcemeat is a meat mixture that has gone through an emulsification process with fat and is typically prepared raw. The most common forcemeat is pork, but wild game, fish and poultry are all likely candidates. For the average palate, some items from the charcutier are relatively familiar like sausages, bacon and ham. These meats are often smoked though they may also be air-dried and well-seasoned. More exotic offerings like terrine, galantine, confit and pâté are popular choices. These meats have been chopped or ground into a paste and then left to chill, often in their own fat. The addition of aspic adds a gelatinous quality to the meat. These methods are among the oldest known for preserving food. To help here is a list from AYZA’s Midtown and West Village Charcuterie menu.

AYZA Midtown:


Beef Saucisson (French) – Spicy Beef Salami

Saucisson Sec (French) – Hard Pork Salami

Duck Liver Paté (French) – Mousse of Duck Liver

Bresaola (Italian) – Dry Salt Cured Beef

Sopressata (Italian) – Sweet Hard Pork Salami

Prosciutto Di Parma (Italian) – Salt Cured Pork

AYZA West Village


Saucisson Sec (French) – Hard Pork Salami

Duck Liver Paté (French) – Mousse of Duck Liver

Bresaola (Italian) – Dry Salt Cured Beef

Sopressata (Italian) – Sweet Hard Pork Salami

Prosciutto Di Parma (Italian) – Salt Cured Pork

What to Serve Charcuterie With


A charcuterie platter is an excellent way to impress guests and is relatively simple to assemble. The items on offer should include a mix of meats ranging from salted to smoked, cooked to cured, and these items should be paired with acidic offerings like pickles and mustard. A soft cow’s milk cheese like Brie can help cut through the savory qualities of the meat and is easily spread on a thin cracker or a slice of rustic artisan bread. A firm cheddar can add a bit of tang and can stand up to heartier meats. For wines, a Chardonnay adds buttery notes while a Chablis lends an astringent quality to the meal. Red wine drinkers should opt out of anything too heavy and stick with a more medium bodied option like Pinot Noir.

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Getting Your Party Ready for Charcuterie


Those serving charcuterie should plan on serving one to two ounces per guest, particularly if that is the only thing being served. The host should also take the meats and cheeses out of the refrigerator about an hour beforehand to ensure that everything is room temperature where the guests will be able to enjoy all of the flavors more. A wooden tray is the most common method of serving charcuterie, and presentation should be simple. Cocktail napkins make an excellent and affordable dining surface, and the host should discourage guests from picking at the plate by including a knife and fork with the tray. Done correctly, charcuterie will leave a lasting impression on guests for many dinners to come.

Creative Commons Photos from Flickr