Every foodie has their own specialties. I think I have one or two, but butchery is absolutely not one of them. If you’ve hung out with me for a while, you’ll notice I do A LOT of veggie and whole grain dishes. I think I’m better at those than anything related to meat, which is why when I recently befriended Dylan Carasco through my photographer and he offered to help me, I jumped at the opportunity. First up, a great charcuterie spread perfectly suited for brunch…
We agreed on a combination of meats, cheese, and fruits as well as some delicious honeys, mustards, and some finishing salt. When the offerings were set on the table, we each tried different combinations of meat, cheese, fruits, and toppings until we found our happy places. By then, we’d eaten just about everything on the slate! While you can find cured meats a lot of places, head to your local butcher to get better quality meat. Butcher shops bring you closer to your source of food, which is always a plus.
This charcuterie spread was perfect for a brunch of four hungry people. Dylan also brought a few pastries to enjoy while we put the board together, which was a delightful beginning to a wonderful meal!
Dylan selected three meats for the board that were unique but complimentary. First up was fennel pollen salami. Fennel pollen is a choice flavor enhancer for salami because it provides a slightly anise flavor that isn’t too strong. I’m not always big on salami, but this was a lighter version that was quite enjoyable! Second, was jamón serrano, which was my favorite. It’s a Spanish ham that’s been cured and aged. It has less fat than many of the other meats, which is why I enjoyed it so much, I’m sure. It’s very similar to Italian prosciutto – just from a different breed of pig. You can learn more about different kinds of cured meats in this great slideshow by Huffington Post.
Lastly, was the guanciale, which is made from pork cheek. I’ve had guanciale in my favorite mussel dishes at Wildcraft in Culver City. While I don’t usually eat the guanciale in the dish, I knew that it provided so much of that great flavor. Of the three meats, this one was my least favorite served on its own, but it was a perfect addition as everyone else loved it!
While the cured meats are what makes up a traditional charcuterie board, providing the right accoutrements were key to really enjoying the whole experience. So before we get into the cheeses and fruits, let’s talk about the cherry on top, if you will…
There were really three ‘toppings’ – Hepp’s finishing salt; two kinds of honey, including honeycomb (also available at Whole Foods); and Moutarde de Meaux whole grain mustard. The salt was a wonderful addition to the sweetness from the fruit and honey. The honey was a deliciously sweet counterpart to the cured meats, and the mustard just went with everything. You can see why it was so much fun to try so many different flavor combinations!
To balance out the charcuterie and the toppings, we included two kinds of cheese – burrata and goat cheese. Additionally, we offered grapes, figs, and peaches. We grilled the peaches for a few minutes to soften them and add sweetness. And because we wanted to make the slate as visually appealing as possible, we garnished with sprouts over the cheese and fresh dill. The presentation was almost too beautiful to eat, but once we started we just couldn’t stop.
For everything meat-inspired, be sure to follow Dylan on Instagram!