I know. You’re sick of the charcuterie. You think they’re pretentious. Boring and repetitious. Unpleasant and unappetizing. Gross and unsanitary because, eww, fingers!
Agree to disagree?
I used to dread cooking for my family. When they were little, it was fun. But as the kids got older (they are 11, 13, 15 and 16), it became harder to serve a meal everyone liked. Besides that, I noticed that there was something stultifying about family meals.
We didn’t really “come together” at the table. The fact that Jesse and I sat at the “heads” meant that the kids were automatically stuck in a place of subservience and expectation. I can’t think of a single meaningful conversation that has ever taken place at the table. It was glorified chit chat and who needs that?
Enter the charcuterie board!
It’s 2022, but I first learned about the charcuterie last summer when I read Julia Child’s book, People Who Love to Eat Are Always the Best People. I was instantly obsessed. I bought a couple boards for less than $20 and when I got home, I immediately started experimenting with the ingredients I had on hand.
By their definition, charcuterie boards are supposed to display a variety of meats but I am a “work with what you got” gal, plus my 16-year-old daughter is a vegetarian. The rest of my family eats meat, but also appreciates the nutritious vegetarian charcuterie, like this Halloween-themed board.
Sugary charcuteries don’t disappear as fast as boards filled with fruits and veggies. If you have leftover candy and cookies, “take it outside” to a nearby forest preserve. A picnic table easily transforms into a charcuterie board and your hikers will appreciate lots of options (healthy or otherwise) available at the trailhead.
When you need a break from sugar, throw together a fresh option like this.
Back inside, spinach and artichoke dips go a long way with the charcuterie. And don’t be afraid to add leftovers. Replenish boards with veggies and crackers and you won’t have to cook that night.
On chillier days when you need comfort and warmth, add cornbread, Brussels sprouts and quesadillas to your boards. You won’t be disappointed.
The charcuterie comes in handy for holidays, birthdays and breakfasts.
The charcuterie isn’t limited to humans. Try creating your own “backyard board” for the birds, opossums and squirrels that visit your yard, porch or balcony. Here’s our Nutcracker-themed spread. I made their “nutcracker” out of stale ice cream cones smeared with peanut butter and bird seed.
A charcuterie board is a clean slate. Every day, it gives you the freedom to be creative, resourceful and fun. They are inexpensive, take less than 15 minutes to prepare and clean-up is easy because most of the food is “clean.”
Sometimes you won’t have beautiful, colorful ingredients to fill your charcuterie board. Don’t worry! Your spread will be eaten even if it doesn’t reflect every color of the rainbow.
Whether you load your board with meats-and-cheeses, or veggies-and-fruits or a combination of whatever you have on hand, your innovative spreads will bring sustenance and joy to your eaters.
The charcuterie has improved my entire culinary outlook. Though I will continue to cook some traditional meals, I am (unofficially) declaring 2022: “The Year of the Charcuterie!”
Thank you for reading. I showed you mine; now you show me yours! -Connie