The key to any award-winning charcuterie platter is variety. Along with your salty sides, rich cheeses and crunchy breads, the perfect party platter will include both air-dried and cooked meats to give guests selection.
Remember that the cured meats need dips like Dijon or stone-ground mustard to combat the dryness, while the cooked meats benefit most from the other sides with their complementing flavors and textures. Salty, sweet, crunchy or otherwise, remember that balancing texture and flavor is an absolute necessity for a successful platter.
If you’re unsure which meats pair best together, it might help to choose a theme for your platter. Try incorporating meats that are all from the same country or even the same animal. A French or Spanish themed platter will be a huge hit, and regionally-themed plates are another fan favorite. Southern-style BBQ, a northeast seafood platter or Southwest-inspired flavors with a Mexican flair, a themed dish will help you make delicious decisions!
Try saucisson, air-cured beef, jambon sec and pâté de campagne from France or air-dried rillettes and smoked sausages. If you want to mix your meats, consider one dark meat and one light meat, like chicken and beef, surf and turf (meat and seafood) or venison and turkey. Another great way to balance your plate is with a mixture of spicy and tame. Try a mild, cured prosciutto paired with spicy coppa (pig’s neck or shoulder).
Don’t forget the booze! If you decide to go with a themed platter, make sure your beer or wine of choice plays into your signature. French wine, locally-crafted beer, Spanish sangria—whatever you choose, make it authentic!