Creating an unforgettable charcuterie (and cheese) board can be as easy as snacking on one. Russell Klase, executive chef and general manager of Butcher’s Bistro, a downtown eatery and butcher shop that makes charcuterie in-house, shares how to craft a plate that’s a cut above.
THE BOARD: “The Butcher’s Bistro staple is wood boards, but slate and stone are being used a lot right now too. Avoid porcelain or ceramic; you never want to put a knife to those.”
SPREADS: “It’s best to have a rich, salty accouterment like mustard plus a sweet jam, jelly, or purée. We use two mustards: house-made stone-ground mustard and a sweet, vinegary mustard made with dried fruit purée and fresh mustard seeds.”
CHEESE: “You want a hard, a soft, and an aged cheese (which can be either hard or soft). I bring in a type of brie for my soft cheese. Cheese made from sheep’s or goat’s milk is something that’s less popular and a little more adventurous.”
BREAD VS. CRACKERS: “I like both. We use a French-style baguette made at Central Market and sesame wheat crackers. Any French bread will work well. Don’t shy away from flavored breads, either; a, say, rosemary olive loaf will add depth and flavor.”
EXTRAS: “Throw nuts, olives, etc., on there. Anything with similar flavors to what you are already using should complement well. Veggies, like thin slices of carrot, are a good go-to for at-home charcuterie boards, especially if you’re looking for something to take up space.”
HOW MUCH? “On our five-charcuterie-item plate, each meat is 1/2 ounce to an ounce, with 1 1/2 ounces of pâté and 3 ounces of cheese, 1 ounce per cheese. That typically feeds four people.”
FRUIT: “We went with pears, apples, apricots on this board because it’s what is in season now, as well as figs and cherries. We like stone and fall fruits because they are less acidic and have a rich flavor. You can complement stone fruits with acidic items, such as the pickled and whole-grain mustard on this board.”
PRE-CUT VS. SLICING ON THE BOARD: “Pre-slice hard meats and salamis. Leave soft things whole.”
MEAT: “Three to five different styles are best for variety. We include one cured, one soft, and one deli-style meat (like ham). The easiest go-tos are prosciutto and salami.”
PÂTÉ: “We have two types of pâté here: chicken liver and a country-style pork. Don’t be afraid of trying things with a weird name or item in it. The chicken ‘liver’ pâté, for instance, doesn’t taste like liver at all. To ease people into trying pâté, look for any version that has truffles.”
CHICHARRONES: “Chicharrones make a great gluten-free charcuterie option. Ours are house-made (and available for purchase): We go through a whole pig a week so always have more than enough pork skin.”
2233 Larimer St.