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How to Charcuterie

Tips on how to enjoy that charcuterie board next time you’re out

Derived from the French words for “flesh” (char) and “cooked” (cuit), charcuterie (shar-koo-ter-EE) is typically served as selection of cured meats and pâtés, which is fast becoming a staple on menus all over Western New York.

Basic charcuterie can be traced back to a time before refrigeration – when freshly-slaughtered beef, pork or other meat needed to be preserved. Butchers would salt their meat in an attempt to create an environment that allowed “good” bacteria, which is harmless to humans, to outcompete harmful bacteria that is responsible for spoiling meat – a principle that still applies today.

While the prosciuttos and sopressatas will look familiar to the habitual Wegmans shoppers among us, let’s break down some of the more abstruse offerings:

  • Pâté – typically a smooth spread made of chicken or duck liver
  • Rillette (ree-yet) – meat cooked in its own fat, shredded, then mixed with the cooking fat
  • Saucisson – dry “French salami”-style sausage
  • Speck – a German cured meat, thin sliced like prosciutto
  • Bresaola  – “beef prosciutto”
  • Lardo – strips of (pork) fatback with rosemary and other herbs

Nickel City Cheese can be a great place to get to know charcuterie, as the cheesemonger has a wide range of meat products in addition to its selection of cheeses. Store owner Jill Forester is a great resource and she readily invites anyone down to sample and learn about charcuterie.

“Come in, and ask us questions,” she said, pausing between words. “We have more time to give to customers than someone at a busy restaurant on a Saturday night.”

“It’s our job to educate someone when they walk in the door,” she said. “Servers have nanoseconds to get as much as possible accomplished at a table.”

But before you even walk into Nickel City Cheese, you may want to come in with a plan. According to celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, if you’re putting together a charcuterie board at home – try to focus on a specific region or type of meat, such as northern Italy or pork. Samuelsson suggests pairing your own curated selection with a “hearty” red wine, like a pinot noir.

While pairing a red wine with salted meat may seem like the obvious choice, it may not be the best one according to master sommelier Joshua Wesson. Wesson suggest enjoying charcuterie with a bottle of prosecco, a white sparkling wine which can cleanse the palate and offset some of the saltiness of the meats.

“(W)hen you have a lot of alcohol and a lot of structure in a red wine and then you start tasting foods which are salty, the salt can exaggerate the alcohol and blow the wine up right on your palate,” he told The Splendid Table.

“I love prosecco with all kinds of charcuterie,” he added. “I love not terribly complex sparkling wines coming from just about anywhere with all different kinds of charcuterie.”

For those who already have some experience with charcuterie or adventurous newbies looking to forego a sampling at home, The Black Sheep is taking steps toward becoming a charcuterie destination in Western New York. Executive chef Steve Gerda recently told Step Out Buffalo that he’s constantly working on an ever-expanding charcuterie repertoire, which currently includes chicken liver mousse, rilletes, prosciuttos, and lardo.

“If we see something (out there) that we like – we just do it,” Gerda said. “We’re really just scratching the surface right now.”

The executive chef noted that their current selection includes offerings that are highly approachable – as well as the more esoteric.

“A head cheese is maybe not something you’d go for if you’ve never had (charcuterie) before, but it is delicious, and we love it,” he said. “Chicken liver mousse would be a really approachable one, prosciutto obviously…  We start real simple, and kind of bring you into some of the weirder stuff we do.”

“So, have the chicken before you have the pig tail,” he suggested.

In addition to the Black Sheep, Western New York diners looking to sample charcuterie can also try those at Billybar, Tabree or Vera – in addition to numerous other locations listed below.

SOB recommended places for charcuterie:

Nickel City Cheese & Mercantile

Neighborhood: Elmwood Village

423 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo, NY 14222  |  (716) 882-3068

Charcuterie to go

 

The Black Sheep

Neighborhood: West Side

367 Connecticut Street, Buffalo, NY 14213  |  (716) 884-1100

Charcuterie Plate …1 for $5, 3 for $15, 5 for $21

 

Billybar

Neighborhood: Williamsville

5590 Main Street, Williamsville, NY 14221  |  (716) 634-2572

Charcuterie – “Daily selection and accoompaniments”…Small $16, Large $30

 

Tabree

Neighborhood: Williamsville

4610 Main St, Snyder, NY 14226  |  (716) 844-8477

Charcuterie – “Selection of cured meats and accompaniments”…Solo $10, For 2 $18

 

Vera Pizzeria

Neighborhood: Elmwood Village

220 Lexington Ave, Buffalo, NY 14222  |  (716) 551-6262

Nickel City Cheese & Charcuterie Board – “Cheese and meat from our favorite local cheese shop”…$15

 

Bourbon and Butter

Neighborhood:  Downtown Business District

391 Washington St, Buffalo, New York  |  (716) 253-6453

Charcuterie…$12

 

Blue Monk

Neighborhood:  Elmwood Village

727 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo, NY 14222  |  (716) 882-6665

Charcuterie Plate – “Daily selection of meats with house pickles, mustard and whole grain breads”

 

Oliver’s Restaurant

Neighborhood: North Buffalo

2095 Delaware Ave, Buffalo, NY 14216  |  (716) 877-9662

Charcuterie Board – “Daily selection with mostarda, pickles, grilled toast and pineapple-mango compote”…$16

 

Mes Que

Neighborhood: North Buffalo

1420 Hertel Ave, Buffalo, NY 14216  |  (716) 836-8800

Charcuterie Plate – “Chorizo, Andouille, Sopressata, Serrano Ham”…$9

 

 

 
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