It’s the time of year of gatherings, drop-ins, and extra people around your table and in your kitchen. If you’re looking for an easy way to impress any mix of folks and feed them fast, the answer is cut and dried: charcuterie. And no one knows their way around a charc board better than Chef Steve McHugh of the always phenomenal Cured at Pearl.
The restaurant’s name is a nod to the fact that McHugh beat non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. But Cured is also all about the house-cured meats and a menu lovingly handcrafted with just as much care and faith from the finest, freshest local ingredients. Considering that he’s a four-time James Beard Foundation Awards finalist for “Best Chef: Southwest,” there’s little doubt that he knows a thing or two about crafting great flavors that keep people coming back for more.
And he’s sharing his take on all things charc during, “Create Your Own Charcuterie Board,” a special evening at the Briscoe Western Art Museum, December 4th, 6:00–8:00 P.M., with a side of history thrown in. After all, the art of charcuterie deals with the preservation, preparation, and paring of meats. The early methods of food preservation that are common to charcuterie today were fundamental to human survival in the early days of the American West.
That’s right: the flavors the pioneers and cowboys in the American West carried with them for survival mirror those that everyone enjoys on charcuterie boards. And if that’s not good cocktail chatter, I don’t know what is! Even if you’re not wondering what to serve as you explore the American West, pioneering your way into uncharted lands without the benefit refrigeration or preservatives, charc is your friend. It’s tasty, looks gorgeous, and as a finger food, can be just the way to get picky eaters to graze, so think kids charc for fun family dinners.
Whether you’re ready to hitch up your wagon or just host the perfect holiday get-together, join the Briscoe Western Art Museum as Chef McHugh leads a flavorful hands-on session teaching how to craft charcuterie boards for any occasion. The evening includes wine and beer to sip as you create your board, a charcuterie board and tools to keep, as well as all the foods to create a board to your taste.
As a preview to the session, we asked Chef to share his take on all things charc:
Q. How does Cured prep their boards? What’s the secret to making a board look, and taste, great?
A. The secret to a great board is to provide variety. Not just with the meats but also with the pickles, jams, and mustards. This is the approach we take at Cured.
Q. Any charcuterie “rules of thumb”? Things you must do/shouldn’t do?
A. When it comes to personal taste I don’t believe in dos or don’ts. Eat and drink what you like not what you think is right.
Q. What are the most popular items on Cured’s boards? What do people always ask for? What are your favorites?
A. Our two most popular items are our Smoked Duck Ham and our Apple/Jalapeno Pork Rillettes. My personal favorites are the fun seafood items my butcher Kelsey has been churning out lately. Think swordfish bacon, tuna ham, and smoked snapper gillettes.
Q. What sort of occasions are charc boards good for?
A. Charcuterie is great for any communal gathering. Charc boards are meant to be shared and work well with great conversation.
If you want to learn more and add a culinary skill—and a fun evening!—to your holiday season, make time to explore the world of charc with Chef McHugh at the Briscoe. Be sure to pre-register and register soon: we hear the session is expected to sell out. And if you want to sample some of the best charcuterie in town, grab your next date night dinner at Cured.
Let us know how charc-y you are. What makes your taste buds happy on a charc board?