A few years ago someone asked me to jump from cheese world into world of fresh meat. At the time it seemed that they would be world's apart. Little did I know just how intertwined they would end up being for my life and industry.
As a butcher I was often tasked with cutting some pretty amazing cuts of meat, A5 Wagyu, Berkshire pork, prime tenderloins to just name a few. Learning about the care of raising of the animals was always very interesting to me, and afforded me the knowledge that I was able to share with our customers of why they should always get the best cuts of meat for their needs and how to prepare them properly so they turn out the best. (number one tip is to get a meat thermometer and learn proper temp vs time). But how does this relate to charcuterie you may ask?
Turn back the clock to 2001 when I was a head cheese monger for a large super market chain and no one understands the importance of pairing good, artisan salami and pate from around to world to make their cheeseboard exceptional. The term " Charcuterie board" was not even in most people's vocabulary at this point. People were so afraid of eating something made out of liver or ofal. The amount of convincing I had to do to get someone to try creamy, goose liver with truffles was like trying to get a toddler to eat their veggies... nearly impossible.
Can you even start to image making a career out of making Instagram cheeseboards back in the early 2000s? (yes that is a paying career now!) Charcuterie Chalets, Charcuterie Wreath, Charcuter-jar.... All new 20 years later!
Charcuterie is mis- understood to just mean salami for most people. Which is wonderful, but there is such a wide world of meat-based cured products out there to add to your cheese boards.
Rich country, pate, goose foie gras, artisan old-world technique salami, prosciutto, duck rillettes, there are endless possibilities of amazing meat products to take your cheeseboard up to another dimension. There is a charcuterie item for everyone, and yes even vegan, plant based items are popping up.
At Olsson's we get to work with some great producers of some of the finest, award winning charcuterie products out there. We have some of the best American made, award winning salami, pate and duck prosciutto from The Smoking Goose Meatery, pate from Alexian Pate company and many other meats such as imported Genoa Salami, Prosciutto Di Parma, Capicola and more!
Many producers are experimenting with nose to tail butchery and going back to the tried and true old world techniques of curing meats, but this time with a twist (how about spruce tips in your salami?)!
Do not be afraid to ask your cheese monger about meats, you may be surprised at the knowledge they have about not just cheese but also these fine, cured meats, because in the world of specialty cheese, they are all related, in the end charcuterie and cheese are made to live together on your cheeseboards since they have some close knit production history!