Charcuterie (shar-cood-er-ree), or salumi in Italian, refers broadly to prepared meat products, most typically made from pork. Charcuterie is an art form that began centuries ago in order to preserve meats for later consumption. Enjoy the guide below to get a basic understanding of the general types of charcuterie.
Forcemeats are a mixture of ground, lean meat emulsified with fat. The ingredients are either ground, sieved or puréed together. Common forcemeats are sausages and pâté.
Ground meats and salt are encased in a casing tube and either boiled, smoked, or cooked. These are another popular charcuterie item.
Ground meats that are heavily seasoned and placed into a mold to be cooked in a hot water bath. Pâtés are typically made from the finer-textured duck liver, whereas terrines are from coarser forcemeats.
Often made from pork, the meat is heavily salted and cooked slowly in fat until it is tender enough to be shredded. Once cooled, the fat forms a paste, allowing the rillettes to be used as a spread.
Salt-cured or brined meats use salt as preservation. This is done through osmosis and dehydration, drawing out and replacing the water with salt. The salt is also helpful in halting the fermentation process while denaturing proteins, thus preventing the meat from breaking down and spoiling. Salt-cured and brined meats include prosciutto, bacon, and jamon.
Where a whole muscle is salt-cured or brine-cured and later shaved into slices. These are often the most popular form of charcuterie.