Want to know how make your own homemade charcuterie board? With a few simple steps you can create your own charcuterie meats, from easy beef jerky to duck cured ham and Italian bresaola. Check out our how-to guide and create the best cold meat platter.
There are few things more satisfying in the kitchen than carefully preparing something and, over days, weeks and even months, watching it slowly transform into a delicious delicacy to share with family and friends. And, what’s more, your creation won’t taste like it came from a shop – its flavour profile will be unique to the cut of meat chosen, the time given, the preserving environment and your personal choice of aromatics. After your first success, we guarantee you’ll be hooked.
We’ve also compiled all the best British cheeses and classic cheeses for the ultimate meat and cheese platter.
How to make charcuterie
Good things come to those who wait, and charcuterie is all about waiting. Think of classics like Spanish jamón, French saucisson, Italian prosciutto and British bacon – they’ve all been preserved in some way, requiring time and patience as they are elevated from a raw piece of meat to something truly unique and wonderful to taste.
There are countless methods of preservation, including dry curing (think gravadlax and salt cod), air drying (chorizo and salami), smoking (pastrami (check out how-to-make pastrami at home, here), kippers and smoked cheese) and brining (salt beef and rollmops). These techniques have been used for centuries, primarily as a way to stop food spoiling. Today, with modern refrigeration, preservation is now mostly used to transform ingredients by imparting on them distinct flavours and textures. Some of these processes can seem pretty daunting to the home cook, often involving specialist equipment, plenty of space and lots and lots of patience – some top-grade jamón ibérico hangs for up to four years.
Having said that, if you fancy giving charcuterie a try at home, there are a number of simple and relatively quick projects to get started with. Depending on how much time you’re prepared to dedicate, here are three delicious recipes to try out.
For the quickest return, try out the beef jerky – dried strips of lean, marinated beef – which can be made in just three days. Jerky, originating from the Americas, makes the perfect beer snack, and our recipe will give you a jarful that’ll last a good couple of weeks, depending on how many people have access to the jar.
Want to make your own jerky at home? This simple recipe is super punchy and has just the right amount of chew. Eat this quick and easy beef jerky as a snack to with an ice cold beer…
Equally quick (relatively speaking) is duck ham – duck breast cured to resemble prosciutto – simple to make, with minimal intervention, and also taking three days from start to finish. The fatty duck skin becomes beautifully sweet, and, sliced thinly, duck ham is delicious as it is, or served as part of a salad.
Make your own duck ham at home with this flavoursome recipe cured with citrusy oranges and punchy star anise. This quick and easy ham is ready to eat within just couple days. Serve with a hearty red wine.
Last up is bresaola, a thinly sliced, air-dried, salted beef originating in the Italian Alps. Although the process is straightforward and requires very little upkeep, it does take four to five weeks from start to finish. Trust us when we say it is well worth the time and effort – wafer thin, deeply purple, fat-marbled bresaola looks and tastes spectacular, eaten as an antipasto with a little extra-virgin olive oil and squeeze of lemon juice, or served with a rocket and parmesan salad.
Are you a fan of beefy bresaola? This simple recipe with juniper berries and thyme is super tender and packed with plenty of flavour. Serve as part of an antipasti board with a chilled glass of wine…
HOW DOES SALTING WORK?
As well as flavouring food, salt also works to preserve meat by creating an environment hostile to bacteria and fungi – essentially the salt draws water from these potentially harmful organisms, slowing their growth or killing them off altogether.
SURFACE MOULD ON CHARCUTERIE
Sometimes a white mould might bloom on the surface of meat while it is curing. Don’t worry, this is quite harmless and can be wiped off using a cloth dabbed in a little vinegar. Black mould, on the other hand, unfortunately means that the meat has gone off, and must be discarded.