5 Meats You Need in Your Mouth: A Charcuterie Guide

A block of hard wood covered in salty meat? Yes, please. These days there’s no shortage of specialty meat and cheese shops filled with enough cured cholesterol logs to kill an elephant, so instead of wandering aimlessly through the shelves of speck and prosciutto until you finally settle on some mystery meat, study up and be better prepared to buy what you like the next time you’re assembling a charcuterie board.

  • Prosciutto: The training wheels of cured meat, this dry-cured ham is made from rubbing salt and a variety of spices onto the hind leg of a pig or wild boar (postmortem). The variance in quality of different prosciuttos depends on how it’s cured, which can take from one month to several years. The majority of prosciutto you’ll find has been salt-cured, but one of our favorites is Prosciutto Toscano, which can be cured with a variety of spices, creating a much more complex aroma and flavor than the basic Prosciutto di Parma.
  • Pâté: French for baby food, pâté is basically a delicious gooey meat log, usually made from liver, pork, fish, or game, and is best when spread atop a piece of crusty bread.
  • Saucisson: This is a generic French term used for dry sausage. Usually made from pork, but sometimes beef or chicken, the sausage is served in thick cuts and certain incarnations contain olives, mushrooms, pistachios, figs, cheese, and even wine. It’s a rustic, meaty sausage that is rich and yet mild at the same time.
  • Capocolla (or Copa): Originating in southern Italy, this thin beauty has a texture similar to prosciutto but with a much deeper red color, which is a result of the peppers and paprika used in the seasoning process. The flavor is usually delicate, but the spiciness can range from mild to hot. Our favorite versions hail from Calabria and run heavy on the peppercorn.
  • Galantine: Mmmmm. Meat jelly. Yep, the manufacturing of this delicious forced meat delicacy is as gross as you think, so we’re not going to go into details. But trust us on this one; it’s amazing.

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