Charcuterie is a little salty, a little sweet and always impressive
From the August 2022 issue
When Jenna Bullock was a child, her parents served cheese with all the complementary accoutrements at family gatherings.
“It was a staple appetizer,” recalls Bullock, who grew up in Brick Township, N.J., about a 10-minute drive from the coast.
Today, cheese, meat and fruit are the tools of her trade. In October 2020, Bullock started First State Charcuterie, which delivers “grazing boxes” door-to-door throughout Sussex County and Maryland’s Eastern Shore. She quit her human-resources job six months later to concentrate on the business full time.
“The beach area is ideal,” says Bullock, whose products are also available in The Coffee House Powered by Schell Brothers in Rehoboth and Delmarva Dry Goods in Bethany Beach. Customers typically order for a day at the beach, a sunset date night or a day boating, she explains. Beach picnic companies include her charcuterie in the packages they provide.
Technically speaking, charcuterie is a branch of French cooking devoted to meats, such as cured sausages. But on restaurant menus — and in most Americans’ minds — it’s a pleasing arrangement of spicy or salty meats, fruits, cheese and pickled items.
While you might not be ready for the pros’ pepperoni roses and strawberry stars, you can create a sophisticated snack. A good “board” combines color, style, texture and dimension. As for ingredients, remember the essential elements: cheese, meat, savory, sweet and grains. “By incorporating these elements, you will have a well-balanced charcuterie board with endless pairing options to give guests the ultimate grazing experience,” Bullock says.
The amount of each ingredient is flexible depending on your preference.
BEACH PICNIC CHARCUTERIE
(Serves 2-4 as an appetizer)
Wood board or cutting board for display purposes
Mini condiment dishes for honey, jam or mustard
A honey dipper (optional)
Small containers of honey, jam and whole-grain mustard
3 ounces of mixed marinated olives
A wheel of softened brie, sliced
Danish blue cheese or the mellower saga blue
Manchego cheese, sliced
1-2 ounces each of cured meats, including prosciutto, soppressataand pepperoni
2-3 ounces each of the fruit of your choice (blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, grapes, dried fruit)
1-2 ounces each of nuts — about a handful — such as pecans and almonds
Crackers, pretzels or baguette (number optional)
Optional: chocolates, saltwater taffy or other sweets
STEP 1 Place the honey, jam and mustard on the board.
STEP 2 Pour the olives into a bowl and place them on the board.
STEP 3 Add the cheese. Fan out the sliced cheese; keep the blue cheese whole.
STEP 4 Add the cured meats.
STEP 5 Use fruit to fill empty spaces. Feel free to top the cheese with fruit as well.
STEP 6 Use a mix of nuts along the border and to further fill gaps.
STEP 7 Place the crackers, pretzels or baguette on the board or in a nearby basket.