#92 – NYE Charcuterie
#92 – NYE Charcuterie
This is Recipe Roundup, episode 92. As you come out of the groggy, overstuffed cave of Christmas celebrations, you may be looking for some respite from heavy foods. In fact, I know many of us spend the week after Christmas until the New Year’s Eve planning exactly how the next year will be different, and how we eat is certainly not an exception from that!
If you’ve been looking forward to another feast, by no means change course! But New Years Eve is a great time to focus on quality instead of quantity even while working on a budget. COVID-19 is still a huge consideration for your holiday planning and will certainly prevent many a New Year’s Eve Party. But if you find a way to celebrate safely, here are some ideas for your food!
My impression of New Year’s Eve is one of small plates. A tapas styled offering ensures that everyone will get a lovely variety of flavors without the need for a sit-down meal. This can make clean-up and prep a lot easier, and might make it less likely that you have a ton of leftovers to deal with the next day. As you may know, I am a HUGE fan of charcuterie boards and New Year’s Eve is the perfect time to hone your board presentation skills.
If you’ve got a nice chunk of change to spend on fine meats, cheeses and preserves, it’s a no brainer…very difficult to go wrong, especially if you can go to a store that allows you to sample before you buy. My recommendations are a goat’s milk gouda like Brabander or Midnight Moon, a sharp or salty cheese like a 24 month Cheddar or Red Leicester, and a softer cheese like Mt Tam, Humboldt Fog, or a marinated goat cheese. If you like blue cheese or other challenging cheeses, there are many opportunities for flavor adventures in a cheese shop. For meats, duck prosciutto and Iberico ham are delicious and the things that spring to mind with the word “splurge.” And there is no limit to the preserves, olives, and fancy crackers or breads that will complete this board.
But working on a budget need not be any less grand! Saltine and Ritz crackers have never not gotten the job done! Most bakery sections have a mark down on slightly older artisan bread and while it wouldn’t be the best for a sandwich, you can easily toast it into the perfect vehicle for cheese and meats. Anything you like from the deli has a place on a charcuterie board. For a soft cheese, cream cheese is perfect on a budget and for more sensitive palettes. It’s extremely versatile – my family often places a layer of chopped red onion on the cream cheese and tops it all with a piece of smoked salmon. You can also top the cream cheese with a jelly or jam – especially a pepper jelly for a delicious effect. If you like olives, there are many affordable options. Along the same line of flavor, pickled okra is one of my favorite things I can find at local stores that many people haven’t had! Your cheapest option for fruit is to purchase it fresh and prepare yourself. If you happen to use apples, submerge them in some ice water mixed with lemon juice for a few minutes before serving to prevent some of the browning. Grapes and berries are easy as well.
When working with a budget, plan out your cheapest options for each category – if you can achieve a board with a little money left over, choose one or two items to add a little spark to!
A good charcuterie board is all in one – appetizer, meal, and dessert – but it doesn’t need to break the bank by any means!