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Elegant Christmas appetizers

Diana De Cicco is a food editor and writer based in New York City. She has a master's degree from New York University in Food Studies. Her passions are eating, traveling, and eating while traveling.

Appetizers: Charcuterie

When your family and friends visit you this year for Christmas, instead of serving the usual appetizers, try an easy and elegant charcuterie platter. Choose a few cured meats and partner them with a good crusty bread and some cornichons for filling finger food or a light Christmas lunch for your guests.

Charcuterie

What exactly is charcuterie?

Charcuterie typically refers to cured, smoked or prepared meat products such as sausage, terrines, bacon, ham, pates and salumi. Different from luncheon meats, charcuterie are usually hand made by chefs or butchers from ground up meats such as pork, beef and veal.

Charcuterie was originally a way to preserve meat by curing, air-drying, or salt brining. Today, charcuterie meats can be found at a butcher or a large grocery store – and they are an ideal appetizers offering.

How to make a charcuterie platter

A combination of cured, air-dried and salt brined meats should be on the platter along with a creamy mousse, pate or terrine.

Italian salumi and prosciutto, Spanish chorizo, a French duck pate and a pork terrine are also great choices for appetizers. Other cured meats such as pancetta, bresaola, coppa, and spicy sopressata, and a liver pate work well, too.

Go to your local butcher or large grocery store and just browse the meat section to see what is available. Get a variety of meats and pates to balance out the tastes and textures.

Create the perfect appetizer offering with at least three to four different types of charcuterie. In addition to the meats, include a good crusty French bread, mini cornichons (small sour pickles), olives, and a mustard or chutney.

Serve a great wine

A hearty and bold red wine pairs perfectly with meat-based appetizers. A light white wine also works well to balance out the bold meat flavors and complement lighter appetizers, like chicken pate.

Christmas appetizer recipe


Duck Liver Pate

Makes 16 servings

Ingredients:
3 ounces duck fat
1 large shallot, peeled and chopped
1 duck liver (about 3 ounces), cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon herbes de Provence
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Cognac

Directions:
1. Heat duck fat in a pot over medium high heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until the fat has melted and slightly browned.

2. Stir in shallots and cook about 30 seconds. Mix in the liver, herbes, and garlic and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper while stirring.

3. Pour the mixture into a blender and pour in Cognac. Blend until creamy. Spoon pate into a square baking dish or small bowl. Let chill until ready to use, at least 1 hour. Serve with bread slices. Can be made up to 3 days in advance.

Visit SalumiCuredMeats.com for more information about cured meats and for a delicious selection of pate, visit Patchwork-Pate.com.

Additional appetizers


Italian appetizers
Low-carb appetizers
Elegant holiday appetizers
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