Because you know we’re all about that spice, you know that when assembling a charcuterie platter, spices are a key element. Whether you are flavoring the meat itself or cooking up your own sides, understanding spices is essential. Knowing when to cheat and how to develop complex flavors can make all the difference when you want to be seen as a foodie or a culinary master. To help you reach master status, we’ve addressed some age-old questions about spices.
Peppercorns vs. pre-ground peppers Choosing between peppercorns and pre-ground pepper is like choosing between freshness and convenience. Like all spices, pepper has a shelf life. You can keep whole peppercorns in the freezer, and they will last indefinitely. Purchase a hand grinder or a spice mill and grind your peppercorns when you need them —so you know they’re fresh. One of the world’s most popular spices, pepper is grown around the world and is great for adding complex flavor or a little zing to any dish. Peppercorns are an essential for your charcuterie kit. However, if you’re in a hurry, pre-ground pepper will do the trick.
Grinding your own spices Grinding your own spices puts you in control of every aspect of your food’s flavor. The best spices to buy whole and grind yourself are peppercorns, cumin, coriander, and fennel. Grinding these spices at home will produce fresh, robust flavors that have a tendency to get lost when they are pre-ground and stored too long. When you’re gone through the trouble to cure your own meats, make your own cheeses, or pickle your own vegetables, why not grind your own spices and take full ownership of your platter?
Home curing and prepping Home curing and preparation allow you to choose the flavor profile of your meats. Sweet, spicy or natural, infusing your meats with the dry rub of your choice gives you complete creative control. Also, packaged and processed meats are notorious for their high fat and salt content. If you are health conscious, home curing can make a difference in the nutrition of your charcuterie.