Cured's Steve McHugh on how to build a charcuterie board

Charcuterie is one of the hottest food trends in America and no one does it better than Chef Steve McHugh of Cured restaurant in San Antonio, Tex.

From meat selection to accouterments, chef McHugh spoke to's Ali Rosen about tips to building a perfectly-balanced charcuterie board at home.

What is charcuterie?

Charcuterie is an all-encompassing term that includes prepared meats, pâtés, sausages, hams and other cured items. Besides meat, your charcuterie board should also include plenty of crusty bread or crackers, cheese and accoutrements.


"That's where it gets fun," says Chef McHugh. Accoutrements are all of the other tasty, fun things on your charcuterie board and can include pickles, mustards, marmalades and more. "It's all about the mix and match," says McHugh. "Getting a little bit of pickle, a little bit of marmalade, having the pâté and of course, a sturdy vessel to deliver everything to your mouth, so a nice crusty bread or a cracker."

Why pickles?

Pickled vegetables are a staple on charcuterie boards because when eating fatty, salty meats, you want the acidity of pickles to cleanse your palate, according to McHugh. But don't just stick to ordinary cucumbers - you can pickle just about anything these days.

What to tell your butcher or grocer:

McHugh says great charcuterie starts at the source, so make sure you're buying from a reputable butcher or grocer. "If you start with great product or a really good hog, there's not much you have to do to make it taste good," says McHugh. "You're really just adding salt and letting it age." McHugh also suggests checking how long meat products have been cured, because if it's a very short aging time, that means it was likely brined or forced instead of cured. For pâté, McHugh says take a good hard look and make sure it looks fresh and is not oxidized.

Think you're brave enough to try making your own charcuterie? Master butcher Marc Pauver makes it look so easy.