Charcuterie : Premium food that Europeans love
Charcuterie products are now widespread throughout the world and well established in European culture. For consumers, charcuterie is much more than a simple food item. It is the expression of a centenary way of life which advocates pleasure, sharing and conviviality. It is a testimony to creativity and know-how of excellence.
What exactly is charcuterie?
A charcuterie is a food preparation based on raw or cooked meat and/or offal. The most used meat for making charcuterie is pork, for which salt is the main preservative.
Other meats can be used to make charcuterie, such as game (wild boars or hares) and poultry (turkeys, chickens, or ducks), and in some (rarer) cases beef can also be used to make certain charcuterie. But to know which type of charcuterie to choose, you need to have tested and tasted it before.
What type of charcuterie to choose?
There are currently more than 450 different types of charcuterie products in Europe, which are classified according to 3 types of products:
Cured meats: these are salted, dried and sometimes smoked product such as such as ham, sausages, chorizos, etc.,
Cooked products: these are salted and cooked products such as cooked ham, pâté, rillettes, blood sausages, andouillettes, etc.
And finally, the products to be cooked: such as raw sausages, stewed sausages sometimes smoked, bacon etc.
Where does charcuterie really come from?
The main French charcuterie products are the result of ancestral know-how linked to their respective regions. Here are some charcuterie products, the most popular of which are:
Jambon de Bayonne PGI* (Protected Geographical Indication) (Bayonne Ham) is made from the pork leg trimmed and salted with dry salt, then cured for 7 months.
Pâté de campagne Breton PGI (Brittany country pâté) is prepared with coarsely minced meat and seasoned with spices
Saucisson sec d’Ardèche PGI (Ardèche dry sausage) is made from minced pork stuffed into a natural casing
Boudin blanc de Rethel PGI (White pudding of Rethel) is composed only of pork meat, milk and fresh eggs
Rillettes de Tours PGI are a culinary preparation of pork cooked for a long time over low heat in fat
* The Protected geographical indication (PGI) designates an agricultural product, raw or processed, whose quality, reputation or other characteristic properties are attributable to its geographical origin. To qualify for this official status, at least one of the stages in the product’s production, processing or preparation must take place within this defined geographical area.
When is charcuterie eaten?
In Europe, the consumption of charcuterie is on the rise. Charcuterie is a “pleasure” product and is eaten by many people as an aperitif /starter or as a main course. It is most often eaten:
as an appetizer on a platter of assorted charcuterie (dry ham, sausages, pâté, terrine, etc.)
as a main course with a side dish (such as cassoulet, or sauerkraut and quiche).
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