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Nothing says party time like a ton of meats, cheeses and breads -- right?!
Well, chef Curtis Stone recently traveled to Rioja, Spain, seeking inspiration for his Beverly Hills restaurant, Maude.
This is where he fell back in love with the charcuterie board -- a fancy word for meat, cheese and bread platter.
If you think you don’t have what it takes to absolutely master one like this one (Spoiler: you do!), Curtis is at your service with all the tips and tricks you need to wow your holiday party guests!
- Plan on serving 2 ounces of meat per guest if the platter is served as an appetizer.
- Go up to about 4 ounces of meat if you are hosting a party where the platter is the main food on offer.
- For a Spanish-inspired platter, select some of Curtis’ favorites: Chorizo, jamón Serrano or jamón Iberico, lomo embuchado, cecina
- For any type of charcuterie, cut it while cold but serve it at room temperature.
- A variety of breads are great for eating different types of charcuterie.
- Cut fresh rustic bread into slices, which are perfect for piling on jamón Serrano. Even better, coat the slices in a good Spanish olive oil then grill the bread and rub it with a garlic clove.
- Picos: Crispy Spanish breadsticks. If you have the time, wrap thin slices of jamón Serrano around the tops of the picos to make for easy snacking for your guests.
- Pickles: They balance out the richness of charcuterie: pickled peppers, onions, shallots, cornichons, etc.
- Olives: Briny olives serve the same function as pickles.
- Mustards: Just like the pickles and olives mentioned above, a spread of mustard will cut through the richness of certain types of charcuterie.
- Sweeteners and preserves: They help counterbalance the saltiness and richness of charcuterie. Membrillo (quince paste) is the classic Spanish choice.
Alternatives: honey, jams, marmalades.
- Nuts add texture to the platter. The absolute best are Marcona almonds from Spain.
- Feel free to add cheese to your charcuterie platter. Select a variety of cheeses. Most importantly, select different textures. A firm cheese (like a Manchego and Idiazabal), a semi-firm cheese (like a Mahón), a soft and creamy cheese (like Torta del Casar) and a semi-soft cheese (like a blue-veined Cabrales cheese).
- Besides the added variety that cheese brings to a charcuterie board, it also provides a sound option for feeding any vegetarian guests.
- Make sure all of your cured charcuterie is sliced for your guests – don’t make your guests do it! For dramatic effect, you can leave a large piece of jamon Serrano or chorizo on the board to show your guests where the slices came from.
- A couple of small forks placed next to the sliced charcuterie will allow guests to serve themselves.
- Place briny condiments (like olives and pickles) in small side bowls or ramekins so that they don’t leach their juices over the platter. Make sure each condiment has its own serving utensil.
- Cheeses can be sliced, chunked, or crumbled ahead of time for easier serving. Lay out small forks or even toothpicks for serving these. Simply put a cheese knife next to some cheeses – like soft cheeses – and encourage guests to serve themselves.