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Create a charming charcuterie spread for National Picnic Day
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Create a charming charcuterie spread for National Picnic Day

Break out a picnic basket and blanket, because it’s time to celebrate National Picnic Day on April 23.

The annual observance encourages people to pack a meal and eat it outdoors. After more than a year of pandemic restrictions, there’s even more reason to escape the house.

Few dishes are as impressive as charcuterie, an artful French culinary tradition of preparing and arranging cured meats and other meat products, especially pork. Historically all about meat, modern interpretations have broadened charcuterie to include cheese, bread, fruit, nuts and a variety of other food items whose flavors complement each other.

“The premise behind it is to showcase nice meats,” said Chef Tammy Brawley, owner of The Green Kitchen in Richmond and cooking segment host on Virginia Farm Bureau’s television program, Real Virginia.

Brawley noted that along with meats like prosciutto, capicola and salami, her charcuterie spreads always have a couple of different cheeses, olives, a pickled item, nuts, a sweet jam and a savory spread like mustard. A sliced baguette can be served on the side.

“The perfect charcuterie is when you’ve got a variety of those types of foods,” Brawley emphasized.

Traditionally served on a wooden board, charcuteries can easily be adapted for picnics using separate containers for each ingredient, which allows picnickers to choose what they want to eat. And, in the age of COVID-19, foodies have devised a pandemic-proof solution for avoiding communal charcuterie boards—jarcuterie.

Jarcuterie takes the idea of presenting foods in separate containers one step further, and packages charcuteries in individualized containers like Mason jars to avoid touching other people’s food.

We put together a festive charcuterie board showcasing some foods produced in Virginia: prosciutto, soppressata salami, cheese and, of course, Virginia peanuts.

This and that: Get creative with charcuterie

Prosciutto
Sausage
Salami
Ham
Cheese varieties (hard and soft cheeses)
Olives
Pickles
Nuts
Figs
Apricots
Grapes
Apples
Pears
Vegetables
Hummus
Honey
Jams
Crackers, bread or crostini

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