This French term encompasses all sausages and cured meats. Pâtés, rilettes, and terrines fall into another category of specialized, but in some cases experts include them into this group.
The root of the term goes to chair cuite (cooked meat). Curing, smoking and preserving charcuterie is an art and science.
Much depends on the skill and desire to excel in the “métier”. These days, only few chefs bother with preparing sausages or curing meats, and most of them prefer to buy. Yet, large-scale manufactured charcuterie is at best acceptable in quality, and never outstanding.
It is best to buy charcuterie from small-specialized butcher shops that either employ a skilled sausage specialist, or buy from a company owned or managed by a chef.
Always select a contrasting variety of textures as much as you would for a cheese board – three kinds of salami, two sausages, two hams, one each pate and terrine (pate is fine in texture and taste, whereas terrine is coarse, fatty and chucky).
German, Italian, French, and Spanish sausages are world renown. Some are fine grained, others coarse, spiced with garlic, herbs, and spices, smoked or not, and a few salted and air-dried.
Most are high in salt, and fat, but if correctly spiced, they taste heavenly.
Try sopressata, salami from Germany, Italy, and Hungary. Include some mortadella, authentic Bolognese, Debreciner, Hunter’s sausage (Jagerwurst) and others that must be boiled or fried before consumption.
When it comes to cured meats, prosciutto, or San Daniele come to mid but Spanish Serrano ham can be as delicious, and of course Westphalian ham or Lachsschinken (cured and smoked pork loin), and Bundnerfleisch are only some that come to mind.
In Ontario there are several companies (Bona Foods, in Niagara Pingue) that produce outstanding cured meats and sausages for a fraction of the cost of imported versions.
Spanish Serrano ham from pata negra pigs fed acorns for the last few months of their lives is absolutely delicious and highly recommended.
There are now a number of small butcher shops offering terrines and pâtés that can be confidently purchased, but if you want to try to prepare them the Internet offers several recipes that are relatively easy to follow, but time consuming.
You can buy manufactured terrines and/or pâtés packaged conveniently, but try to stick to small scale, scrupulously clean butcher shop products.
Pates can be foie gras (fattened goose liver), but also from duck or pork. Fattened, truffled goose liver pâtés the most expensive, and finest textured from Alsace and Perigord are widely available in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Quebec, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and any major city in the world.
When the labels states mousse of foie gras, it means that the pate has been whipped long enough to contain a lot of air, and hence is lighter in texture and less deeply flavoured, but contains less calories.
German delicatessen stores in Canada carry a range of products, and Italian grocery shops specialize in their products. Spanish and Ontario products are available in high-end stores like Longo’s, Pusateri’s, Mark McEwan’s and others.
Make sure to offer a selection of breads, pickles, caper berries, green and black olives, marinated vegetables, pearl onions and mustards.
As for alcoholic beverages, the following are recommended. For pates, Pienau des Charantes, late harvest wines, pinot noir from Languedoc, or Germany, gewurztraminer from Alsace, off dry riesling from Ontario, or Alsace, viognier from California or Chile or cru Beaujolais of one of the 10 appellations, dry sherry, or amontillado. Needles to say well hoped lager beers from Continental Europe, and artisanal beers from Ontario or Quebec would be very appropriate for the above.
Have fun. I can assure you that your family and friends will remember your party for a long time.
Here are a few sausages, pates, hams, and assorted products available in cosmopolitan North American cities:
Jellied tongue, Karkovska sausages, spiced ham, Zigeunerspeck (gipsy bacon), Kaiserfleisch, Framer’s bacon, Smoked back bacon, Farmer’s sausages, smoked pork loin, liver pates, Virginia ham, Frankfurter sausages, Debreciner sausages, Fine Mettwurst, Salami, authentic Bologna, Hunter’s sausage, Lyon sausage, Mortadella, smoked pork hocks, Westphalian ham, meat loaf, pastrami, corned beef, breakfast sausages, Kielbasa, Weisswurst, Knackwurst, Kabanossi, Black Forest ham, Beer sausages, and head cheese
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.