This week we get into the spirit of the holiday season with a charcuterie board. Whether you plan to host people this year or just eat handfuls of rolled up deli meats alone in a dark closet waiting for 2021 to start, a charcuterie board is a fantastic canvas for creating simple yet delicious flavors.
Prep time: 1 hr
Total time: 1 hr
- ½ pound thawed albacore tuna, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 4 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 3 ½ tablespoons mayonnaise (Richie prefers Hellman’s)
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
- ½ teaspoon grated ginger
- 2 medium scallions, white and pale green parts finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped jalapeño, inner ribs and seeds removed
- ½ firm but ripe avocado, cut into ¼ inch pieces
- See episode #6 of Wild at Home for full gravlax recipe
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons chopped capers
- ¼ cup creme fraiche or sour cream
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh dill (optional)
- Pickles and olives, such as cornichons and Cerignola olives
- Nuts, such as Marcona almonds
- Fruit, such as dried apricots and fresh pears
- Cheese (goat cheese with dill and plain cream cheese)
- Dip (mustard dip)
- Crackers and bread, such as nori-flecked rice crackers or sliced baguette
- Protein, such as gravlax, tuna tartare, prosciutto, hard salami
Place cubed tuna into a medium bowl and refrigerate until chilled. In a small bowl, combine rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and mayonnaise and whisk until creamy. Add toasted sesame seeds, ginger, scallions, cilantro, and jalapeno and mix thoroughly. Gently fold the mixture into the tuna. Add the avocado and very gently fold in. Do not overmix. Return the tuna tartare to the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
Serve in small bowls and garnish with cilantro and sesame seeds. Tartare is best eaten with light water crackers or rice crackers.
The goal is to make a slice thin enough you can “read the New York Times through it.” This will take a lot of practice. Traditionally, a large side of salmon is cured, which makes slicing a bit easier.
Place the gravlax on a cutting board at the edge of the counter. Start your first slice ¼ centimeter back from the thickest end of the portion. Use long deliberate strokes straight down. When you reach the skin, slightly angle the knife up to and finish the cut. You can remove any grayish areas of the meat if you like. If the blade seems tacky, wet the blade. Continue slicing by placing the blade ¼ centimeter behind the first cut. Repeat the slicing process, wetting the blade as needed.
Serve with mustard dip or cream cheese on a thick cracker, bagel, or sliced bread, preferably sourdough or baguette.
In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, mustard, white wine vinegar, chopped capers, and creme fraiche or sour cream and whisk until smooth. Season with salt to taste. Add chopped fresh dill, if using, and mix together.
The assembly of your charcuterie board is completely up to you. It's an opportunity to balance flavors and create visual appeal. Think about how you would personally enjoy interacting with the ensemble through both sight and taste.
To get started with your assembly you can play with seven basic components: nuts, pickles, fruit, cheese, dip, crackers, and meat. Arrange the seven items onto a large serving board, focusing on visual balance and organizing the board so that the components look appealing and pair well together. The only “real” rule for charcuterie is to serve the meats and cheeses at room temperature, because the rich flavors and textures of the meats and cheeses tend to stay muted when eaten cold.