How to Make a Low-Carb Charcuterie BoardArticle posted in: Diet & Nutrition
First things first: Are you pronouncing this French term correctly? Say it out loud: shar-koo-tuh-ree. Good. Now, let’s talk about what this word actually means. According to Serious Eats, fifteenth-century charcutiers cured pork and hung it from shop windows to draw in customers. Six centuries later, cured meat still draws us to the table but charcuterie board ingredients are a celebration of meat, cheese, dried fruit, nuts and sauces. They’re perfect for entertaining because people are more inclined to eat easy, finger foods. Plus, they’re ideal for you, the entertainer, because meat and cheese are low-carb and South Beach Diet-approved. So go ahead and “indulge” right along with your guests!
Here are four steps to create the perfect low-carb charcuterie board for a healthy holiday:
1. The Vessel
Have a large cutting board? Perfect. That means you can slice your ingredients right on it. Plus, the wood looks “authentic.” You can also use a large slate or marble serving board. However, any large tray or serving platter could work.
You also want to be able to space your ingredients out so picky eaters aren’t turned off if things mix or touch. Have toothpicks, serving forks, spoons and napkins nearby. If you’re feeling fancy—or if you don’t feel like repeating yourself 20 times as to what’s on the board—you can get customized labels for your ingredients (#EtsyToTheRescue).
2. The Meat
Is salami the extent of your meat vocab? Don’t panic. If you order a charcuterie plate at an upscale restaurant, here’s what you’ll likely get, says Serious Eats:
- Pâté or Mousse: Pâté is a mixture of fat, meat and seasonings. It’s usually pureed and sometimes ground. Mousse is more “mousse” like and smooth. Mousse usually contains more liver and has a stronger flavor than pate.
- Boudin: Boudin technically means “pudding” but refers to sausages made from ground, spiced meat. Lighter-colored sausages are labeled blanc; darker sausages made with blood are called noir.
- Saucisson: This is dry-cured, fermented salami. Some have casings you’ll want to remove before serving while others can be enjoyed.
- Jambon: Jambon is cooked, cured ham. You’re likely to find this labeled as prosciutto at your supermarket.
Plan for three to six ounces of meat and cheese per person, depending on whether your charcuterie board is the entrée or appetizer, says Bristol Farms. To give guests the whole experience, get something pre-sliced, something they slice and something spreadable.
3. The Cheese
If you have a specialty grocery store with a cheese counter, take time to talk to the cheesemonger (a.k.a. the person behind the counter). They’ll be able to point out a few specials that are different, interesting and pair well with the meats you’ve chosen (or are going to choose after they tell you what to buy).
If there are no cheesemongers in sight at your local supermarket, follow the rule of three: Choose one hard, one soft and one blue cheese. “When it comes to cheese, you want a selection of young and aged as well as soft and hard,” says Bristol Farms. For example, you could use an aged cheddar (hard), smoked mozzarella (soft) and Gorgonzola (blue).
The more boards you build, the more adventurous you can get with your options. Try doing a board with cheeses (and meats) from France. Or Spain. Or the USA. Or, try mixing up your cheeses by milk type. Buffalo, cow, goat and sheep cheese all have distinct flavors and textures and are surprisingly accessible.
4. The Accents
Nuts. Hummus. Pickles. Pickled vegetables. Dried fruit. Fresh fruit. Olives. Mustards. Low-carb Almond Four Bread. Foods taste “balanced” when they’re sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami, says Le Cordon Bleu. Even though a charcuterie board is made up of individual ingredients, you want to offer accents that can provide a balanced experience when mixed or eaten after another.
- Your cured meats and some cheeses are inherently salty so that’s covered.
- Nuts, cheese and our Parmesan Crisps can bring that savory, umami flavor.
- Pickles, olives, kimchi and other vinegar-based ingredients can help cut richness of fatty meats.
- Sugar-free jams and fruits counteract the salt and taste decadent together. Try some low-carb berries, like blueberries, strawberries, cranberries, blackberries or raspberries.
- Finally, an herby cheese, beer-based mustard, pesto or even Kale Chips can add that essential bitter flavor.