Salamis vary a lot, and the best ones so put on a charcuterie or antipasti board, will of course depend on what you want to savor.
After exploring, making, and trying salamis for 20 odd years, I’ve got a few trips and tricks to share with you.
If you’ve ever plucked a piece of salami off a charcuterie board, you were probably tempted to snap a picture of the masterpiece.
Charcuterie is the pinnacle of effortless entertaining and might be the most amazing sensory experience of practically any appetizer.
Since charcuterie is my greatest passion, a constructed or deconstructed charcuterie board means alot to me!
Almost every home entertaining event nowadays involves a meat and cheese appetizer, but do you know which salami to choose if you want to make your own charcuterie board?
The best salamis for a charcuterie board are sopressatta, genoa, pepperoni, feline and calabrese salamis. Or other quality dry-cured salamis.
Quality dry-cured salami can be thinly sliced and are ideal for charcuterie boards. A great charcuterie platter combines taste, texture, and flavor. Choose artisanal salami meats that complement each other well, with flavors ranging from simple to complex.
Putting together a charcuterie board is a lot of fun. It’s all about balance, so make sure your components are of great quality and complement one another while still being able to stand alone. The steps below will show you how to select the best salami for your charcuterie board.
My advice, don’t think more is better, less is better – and savoring quality over volume. Bigger is better is not how we roll around here.
Here is a simple charcuterie/antipasti board I put together in the mountain of Tuscany foraging for porcini and admiring 500-year-old chestnut trees!
So the above, it’s only one salami, but the point is to show you the simplest approach I love!
How To Pick The Best Salami for Your Charcuterie Board
Cured meats provide salt and savory taste to your meal, making them a perfect starting point. Here are a few things to keep in mind when picking the salamis you will add to your charcuterie board:
- Flavor: Consider a combination of savory, salty, smoky, herbal, and spicy tastes.
- Meat: Choose 3 to 5 different types of meat from a variety of pork, beef, poultry, lamb, and buffalo. (Most Italian classics are pork based)
- Texture: Consider mixing tender, thinly sliced meats that are easy to roll or stack and hard salami variations with a chewy-hearty flavor.
- Origin: Italy, France, and Spain have long been important producers of artisan cured meats such as salami and chorizo. Don’t be afraid to mix it up. Include old favorites like spicey Calabrian soppressata and genoa, as well as novel salami flavors like fennel – Salame Felino
Make sure that each element contributes something unique to the board. The best charcuterie platters include acid, salt, fat, sweetness, and umami. All of these factors should be present in order to achieve a balance on the palate.
The Four Must-Have Salami Meats for a Charcuterie Board
Ok so maybe they aren’t a must-have, but they are worth talking about in detail! There are thousands of variations, I’ve always found decent salamis at food markets, but it of course – depends on where you live.
A lot of these artisanal slow food salamis take 3-6 months to make or dry to a point of dense flavor and drying enough to create a sensory experience whilst also preserving the salami to some degree.
Remember, the key to a successful charcuterie meats board is to blend taste, texture, and flavor. Curled meats that can be thinly sliced or coiled when created from paper-thin slices are ideal for charcuterie boards.
Soppressata, genoa salami, calabrese, and hard pepperoni are some of the four most popular cured meats. We’ll take a deeper look at each one below, so you can get an idea of which ones will work best on your board.
Soppressata is a kind of Italian salami made largely of pork. Many types of soppressata have stringent requirements about where the pig comes from, what part of the pig meat is utilized, and how and where it is prepared.
Soppressata salami is coarser ground than other types of salami. It has a solid, somewhat chewy texture and a taste that is similar to pepperoni. In terms of look, it’s a dark crimson hue with huge lumps of fat scattered throughout. This salami tastes best when cut into tiny, circular pieces.
Genoa salami receives its name from the Genoa region of Italy, where it is thought to have originated. It is mainly comprised of pork, although it can also contain veal or beef. It is produced by blending pork meat, fat, red wine, peppercorn, and additional spices. It’s ground-up uncooked, blended with the other ingredients, then placed in a casing to dry and age.
The color of Genoa salami is more subdued than that of other salamis. Because of the increased fat content, it is bigger in size than pepperoni and softer and greasier than other salamis. Genoa salami has a unique flavor with notes of bright acidity.
Genoa salami comes in a variety of thicknesses. It is a typical salami that is offered pre-cut and pre-packaged for convenience. It’s also available sliced at the deli counter.
Calabrese is a kind of Italian salami from the south of Italy. It is mainly produced from pork and comes in two varieties: dolce and Picante. Calabrese dolce is a mild salami that has been seasoned with salt, pepper, and wine. Calabrese Picante is a spicy salami seasoned with red pepper flakes or Calabrian paprika.
Calabrese salami is deeper in color than other types of salami. Because it is a coarse ground salami, it also appears to have more pieces of fat than other versions. Depending on the kind of Calabrese, it might be somewhat tart from the wine or spicy and fiery from the red peppers. Calabrese is often served in circular, thin slices. You don’t want it to be so thick that it overpowers the other tastes on the plate.
Pepperoni is a dried, cured, seasoned beef and pork sausage. This salami is neither too coarse nor too fine. The meat is ground then seasoned with salt, sugar, and spices such as paprika and garlic powder. The mixture is then filled and cured in sausage casings.
Pepperoni has a salty, spicy, tangy flavor because it is cured with salt, spices, and lactic acid. Because of the chewy texture, it is frequently sliced into thin, circular slices. Whole pepperoni sticks may be found in the meat and deli area of most supermarkets, as well as specialized meat shops and butcher shops.
You should now have a better sense of which salami to add to your charcuterie board. The beauty of a charcuterie board is its adaptability and the fact that meat and cheese are always in season, so they are perfect for entertaining year-round.
Charcuterie can be more than just an appetizer or party plate; it can be a whole meal! Don’t be afraid to mix and match flavors and textures to create a unique experience with each board.
Thanks for dropping by, I’ve been passionate about meat curing for around 20 years now. Having been lucky enough to learn inside fine dining kitchens through to backyard smoking sessions. From doing courses, trial & error and reading extensively – finally, I thought it was time to share my passion online.
My insatiable appetite and passion toward classic Italian dry-cured salumi and all forms of curing and smoking are what drives this website engine. All the best, Tom