Friday, June 26, 2009

Heat + Meat

We’re hitting record temperatures in New Orleans. The A/C is our best friend, turning on the stove to cook dinner, or even grilling, when there’s a heat advisory in effect is just not appealing. So why not do what the Mediterraneans do so well? Dish out a charcuterie plate. It’s simple, it’s good and it doesn’t involve any cooking.

A classic spread includes a combination of cured and cooked meats. Butcher’s Chef Warren Stephens suggests two to three different hard salamis: a spicy picante or a soppressata, a sweet coppa dulce, a lucchese with coriander and mace, a Spanish lomo or a nostrano with warm spices. As for the cooked meats, Stephens mentions duck rillette, salami cotto – the cooked, not cured sausage – some Cajun head cheese or pork rillon to complete the meat spread. Add some acidic foods to the selection to counter balance the fatty meats. Chef Stephens likes to garnish his charcuterie plate with cured olives, the French like to put cornichons on theirs and so does Butcher’s Salumiere Chris Doll, but really any pickled vegetable works. Try okra and banana peppers for a change.
Add a fresh baguette to your charcuterie to make it a meal; get some artisan cheese at St. James Cheese Company to make it a dinner feast. Garnish the cheese plate with grapes, dried figs or dried, tart cherries, pour a cool rustic red wine or a refreshing vino verde and you’re set for a great evening with friends.

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