What are some typical French charcuterie (cured meats) options?

Delicious ripe figs, prosciutto and cheeses served on grey table, flat lay

Introduction: French Charcuterie

Charcuterie, the art of preserving and preparing meat products, is an integral part of French cuisine. French charcuterie has a vast array of options and is renowned for its quality and diversity. Charcuterie originated in France and has been an essential part of French cuisine for centuries.

French charcuterie is often served in a platter or board known as a charcuterie board. This board is made up of various cured meats, cheeses, and other complementary items such as nuts, fruits, and bread. If you are looking for a taste of France, then you cannot miss out on trying some of the typical French charcuterie options.

Dry-Cured Ham (Jambon Sec)

Dry-cured ham, known as Jambon Sec in French, is a popular type of cured meat. It is produced by rubbing the meat with salt, which draws out the moisture and preserves the ham. The ham is then aged for several months, giving it a distinctive flavor and texture.

Jambon Sec can be made from a variety of breeds of pigs, and each region of France has its own unique style of preparing it. Some of the most famous varieties include Jambon de Bayonne from the Basque region, Jambon d’Aoste from the Alps, and Jambon de Paris, which is a staple of the Parisian charcuterie scene.

Pâté and Terrine

Pâté and Terrine are popular in French cuisine and are made from ground meat, liver, and fat, which are cooked and blended together. Pâté is a smooth paste-like texture, while terrine is chunkier and often has added ingredients like vegetables or nuts.

There are a variety of types of Pâté and Terrine, including Foie Gras, which is made from the liver of a fattened duck or goose. Other types include Pâté de Campagne, a country-style pâté, and Terrine de Lapin, which is made from rabbit. These dishes are often served as a starter or as part of a charcuterie board.

Sausages (Saucisson)

Sausages, known as Saucisson in French, are another popular type of French charcuterie. They are made from ground meat, spices, and fat and are often served as a snack or appetizer.

There are a variety of Saucisson types, including Saucisson Sec, which is a dry-cured sausage, and Saucisson de Lyon, which is typically made from pork and flavored with garlic and red wine. Saucisson is often sliced thinly and served alongside other cured meats and cheeses.

Rillettes and Confit

Rillettes and Confit are slow-cooked meats that are preserved in their own fat. Rillettes are typically made from pork, while Confit is often made from duck or goose.

Rillettes have a spreadable texture and are often served on bread or crackers. Confit has a firmer texture and can be served as a main course. These dishes are often paired with pickled vegetables and mustard.

Regional Varieties and Pairings

Each region of France has its own unique style of charcuterie, and these varieties are often paired with local wines and cheeses. For example, in Burgundy, Jambon Persillé, a ham dish with parsley, is often paired with the region’s red wine. In the Southwest of France, Bayonne Ham is often served with sheep’s milk cheese like Ossau-Iraty.

In conclusion, French charcuterie has a vast array of options, from dry-cured ham to pâté and terrine, sausages, rillettes, and confit. Each dish has its own unique flavor and texture, and many are paired with complementing items like cheese and wine. If you want to experience the best of French cuisine, then try some of the typical French charcuterie options.

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Written by John Myers

Professional Chef with 25 years of industry experience at the highest levels. Restaurant owner. Beverage Director with experience creating world-class nationally recognized cocktail programs. Food writer with a distinctive Chef-driven voice and point of view.

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