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Impress your guests this holiday season with a Charcuterie Board (pronounced SHär'ko?od?re).  Easy to assemble and no cooking required—it’s beautiful on a buffet for a large gathering or on the coffee table for entertaining a few friends in front of the fireplace. 

Charcuterie is everywhere around us. It refers to smoked, cured or cooked meats, all of which are traditional methods of preservation. Bacon, sausages, hams, pates, and terrines are all part of this great culinary specialty. 

The art of curing and preserving meat goes back hundreds of years. The term charcuterie was used to designate shops in fifteenth-century France that sold products made from pork, as well as from offal (internal organs excluding muscle and bone). 

The trend of arranging a variety of meats, cheeses, olives, and spreads such as pates or tapenades, artfully on a wooden board, and serving with crackers or slices of baguettes creates a Charcuterie Board. 

There are wooden boards sold especially for charcuterie.  Trader Joe’s is currently offering an olive wood board at a very reasonable price.  However, you can showcase your charcuterie on a wooden cutting board from the kitchen. The rustic platter is part of the charm. 

The many delicatessens available in the DFW area make selections easy.  Central Market has a variety of salami, prosciutto and cheese and will let you sample so you can determine your favorites.  If you are making a large board, Sam’s, Costco and several grocery stores have packaged, sliced meats and cheeses available so all you have to do is open and arrange.  

As Ina Garten would ask, “How easy is that?” 

To make your board— select a variety of meat and cheese.  Add seasonal fruit and jams or preserves.  Include something briny like pickles, olives or peppers and some spreads such as mustard or pate. 

Like a floral arrangement, height, color, shape and texture all work together to produce an appealing composition.  

Consider grapes for height, roasted red or green peppers for color, a creamy cheese like Brie, slices of hard cheese and some spreads to pair with the meats for a variety of flavors and textures. Thinly sliced prosciutto rolled over marinated asparagus stems or string cheese will create a tubular shape. 

Now the fun part!  Begin arranging the board. Stack items that will stay together and not roll off the board toward the outside of the board and contain those that will, like olives and capers, by placing between the more secure ones.  

A basket of crackers or sliced baguette (toasted if you like) and your beverages are all you need to let the party begin. 

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