Creating an Italian antipasto or charcuterie platter requires careful selection of ingredients but it’s not rocket science.
An Italian antipasto plate usually includes marinated vegetables, e.g., roasted red peppers, pickled eggplant, grilled zucchini—olives, salumi, cheese, and, of course good bread. With antipasto, simple is best.
Each decision the home cook makes has an effect on the experience of the eater. If you want to create an Italian charcuterie platter that rivals one you’d find in an Italian home, follow these tips.
Decide on Your Crudo and Cotto Meats First
The first choice you make is which meats you want to include. Crudo meats are cured and served raw. They include typical Italian deli meats like sopressata, capicola, and prosciutto. Cotto meats are cooked and are much less salty than crudo meats. They include smoked hams and cooked mortadella.
I like to focus my Italian charcuterie or antipasto plate around thinly cut prosciutto. The thin cut keeps people from overindulging in meat and feeds more people in the process. You should aim for around two to three ounces of meat per person being served.
On a traditional Italian charcuterie all crudo meat is laid flat, but many people like the sliced meat before placing them on the platter. One reason is it allows them to fit more meat by stacking the rolls.
In addition to saving space, these stacks of meat add dimension to your platter. When it comes to cotto meats, mortadella cut in either thick chunks or thinly sliced is a good option. Alto Adige speck is also a great option.
Focus on Contrasting Flavors for Your Accouterments
Accouterments are all the other food items that accompanies the meat on your Italian charcuterie platter. Accouterments are designed to two things – pair well with the saltiness of the meats and cleanse your palate. Vegetables are the perfect palate-cleanser. Raw celery, carrots, and broccoli are all acceptable choices. When it comes to pairings, you want sweet things to counter the salty meats. Olives and grapes are great options for both their size and sweetness. Last, choose a jam to include on your charcuterie platter. This is used for spreading on the bread or dipping vegetables and should be sweet.
Plan Your Placements and Place According to Plan
The arraignment of an Italian charcuterie platter is important. One of the things taught at a professional cooking school like Culinary Lab School is how to make eating an experience that goes beyond taste. Home cooks and professionals understand that they want the eater to eat with their eyes as much as their taste buds.
Before you place one piece of food, plan out exactly where you want each piece to go. Work towards a bigger picture with each placement, much like an edible jigsaw puzzle.
Now you’re ready to put what you learned to the test. Get your ingredients. Plan your platter. Make an Italian charcuterie or antipasto platter that rivals the best Italian home cooks.