Juneteenth inspired Charcuterie Board
The thing I love most about a charcuterie board is that you are able to experience every single flavor at once. You can be creative and really put whatever you like on it!Â Although charcuterie isnâ€™t a formal Black food tradition, many of the items used in this board represent different parts of our heritage.
I used black sesame seed crackers,Â also traditionally known as â€śBenne Seed Crackersâ€ť due to their cultural significance. According to the late Edna Lewisâ€™s In Pursuit of Flavor, sesame seeds or Benne seeds were brought to America from Africa and named after the Benue state of Nigeria. According to Lewis, â€śSlaves planted them at the end of crop rows and around their small cabins and used them in much of their cooking.â€ť The fact that they are black, makes them much richer as well.
The Black Eyed Pea salsa is a twist on a traditional favorite. Black eyed peas are traditionally enjoyed on holidays such as New Years Eve signifying good luck, but they are also known as a symbol of emancipation for slaves who were officially freed on New Years Day. This salsa is simple and delicious incorporating orange and yellow peppers, tomatoes, red onions and spices.
The pickles, one of my favorite parts of any charcuterie, are a nod to the late Abby Fisher (as we all know because youâ€™re on this site) made a name for herself by making pickled goods and preserves and she later went on to become one of the first African American cookbook authors.
The simplicity and fusion of flavors and colors make this board the perfect way to celebrate and honor Black heritage.
This specific charcuterie board incorporates an array of ingredients, but you can really use whatever you like! Here I used fresh summer ingredients like peppers and strawberries, two different types of cheeses, nuts and pickles. The two cheeses used here are a fresh Cheddar and Manchego. Manchego cheese is a Spanish sheepâ€™s cheese and reminds me a bit of Parmesan, but milder and a bit softer. Itâ€™s buttery and delicious. You can never go wrong with a fresh cheddar so I always try to include it on my boards. Iâ€™ve also used Brie, Goat Cheese, and other Spanish cheeses on previous boards. Including at least three different types of cheeses on a board is my go-to, but if youâ€™re making a smaller board like this one, two is perfect as well. For the meats I usually include Prosciutto and salami.
The key to making a photo worthy charcuterie board is practice, but for your first time, the main thing to keep in mind is to have no blank space. You want your board to be full which is why I use fresh herbs, nuts, dried cranberries, etc to fill in the spaces in between the meats and cheeses.
Get your board ready. If you donâ€™t have an actual charcuterie board, thatâ€™s fine! A large cutting board, marble slab, or a ceramic platter works great too. Square, round, and rectangle boards all work.
I always anchor at least two corners of the board to start. Once you anchor, you can build around these corners. As you can see, I used the sliver of Manchego cheese in one corner, the bowl of Cornichon pickles in another corner, and a ramekin of the Black Eyed Pea salsa anchoring the third corner. This helps set the tone for the board and you can start to see it come together easier than trying to start from the middle.
Choose a variety of meats such as salami, prosciutto, pepperoni. When placing the meat, it looks a bit more decorative if you fold them and stack them together. You can use this to separate the board and add some depth. To do this, simply fold the meat in half and in half again like a triangle and stack them all together.
I like to have a variety of cheeses on my board. A mixture of soft and hard cheeses such as Brie, Gouda, Mozzarella, etc are great starter options.
Add some spreads such as jams, mustards, honey, etc for dipping and spreading.
Be sure to have a variety of crackers, breads, and/or sticks available.
For some color and a bit of a sweet touch, throw in some fresh and dried fruits!
I also like to throw in some nuts such as almonds or pecans, but be sure none of your guests are allergic.
For a finishing touch, I love to use fresh herbs. For this board, we picked some fresh Rosemary and Mint from my moms garden.
The rest of the board is really no rules! Just make sure you fill in the blank spaces and whatever you do will be beautiful. You can use olives, and other antipasti items, nuts, dried fruits, artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, peppers, to help with this!
Get creative, and have fun! Making these boards is such a fun experience, now go make your masterpiece!
Anchor your corners and get creative!
Black Eyed Pea Salsa
1 16ounce bag of black eyed peas
1 yellow bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
1 red onion
Salt and pepper to taste
Cajun seasoning to taste
Do a quick boil on the black eyed peas according to the package. You want them to be soft enough to eat, but not too soft as they still need to be firm for the salsa. Drain and transfer to a mixing bowl.
Dice half of the yellow and orange peppers, add them to the black eyed peas.
Dice half of a ripe tomato, add to the mixture.
Add in half a minced red onion.
Mince about 2 tablespoons of fresh cilantro and add in to the mixture.
Season the mixture with salt, pepper, and cajun seasoning to your liking!