These days, chefs from across the region are taking various cuts of pork and beef to grind, stuff, cure, ferment, and slice their way around the kitchen, producing some pretty amazing salumi and sausages in the process.
Although there have always been restaurants serving European-made salamis or fancy pâtés, today we're seeing an explosion of in-house — and even locally sourced — charcuterie that several years ago would have been nearly impossible to find. And when they can't do it themselves, local chefs are scouring the country looking for some of the best American artisan salumi makers available to present on their charcuterie boards.
Making your own charcuterie is no easy feat; as we learned with this week's Dish feature, creating cured meats takes skill, talent, knowledge, time, space — and a whole lot of patience. With this in mind, we'd like to recognize the people in South Florida who are making some pretty amazing charcuterie boards (and some who are even doing it themselves).
Here, our top picks for the best charcuterie boards in Broward and Palm Beach counties:
9. Sweetwater Bar & Grill
1507 S. Federal Highway, Boynton Beach. Call 561-509-9277, or visit sweetwater33.com.
Sometimes, it's all in the details. In a listing as an appetizer, Sweetwater Bar & Grill in Boynton Beach offers its patrons an excellent cheese and butcher plate. This charcuterie board is handmade, offering a stunning presentation that features a variety of specialty sourced meats and cheeses selected by executive chef Jeremy Carrier. Expect a few funky offerings from time to time; he's been known to feature specialty items like a blue salami (a perfect combination of red wine, blue cheese, and salami) or wild boar salumi (a mixture of wild boar and pork seasoned with cloves and juniper berries). There's also a good variety of accoutrements to go with everything, from house-made pickled vegetables that rotate with the seasons to fresh fruit, stoneground mustard, and truffle honey.
8. Max's Social House
116 NE 6th Ave., Delray Beach. Call 561-501-4332, or visit sohodelray.com.
At Max's Social House in Delray Beach, the menu is made for sharing. And one of the best ways to do that: the salumi and cheese board, which features a rotating selection of specialty sourced meats and cheeses served alongside a number out homemade pickled vegetables and fruit jams. Right now the board features an Italian felino salami from Creminelli Fine Meats in Salt Lake City, which uses the most ancient salami recipe on record; Fra' Mani salametto piccante, a dry chorizo sausage; and a La Quercia prosciutto Americano, an American prosciutto aged 12 months using meat from Duroc or Berkshire pigs. The board is served with Max's own homemade bread and butter pickles, a spiced plum jam, and pickled papaya, beets, and mustard seeds. Dining solo? You can also order the Father's country ham — slices of salty cured pork — served with a stout-infused mustard, whey butter, and a baguette.
7. Burlock Coast
1 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-302-6460, or visit burlockcoast.com.
Some places look for the best imported meats. Others try to find charcuterie produced by American artisans. At the new Burlock Coast at the Ritz-Carlton in Fort Lauderdale, it's all about being local. Here, diners can find a build-your-own charcuterie board with ingredients that highlight South Florida's finest. Take a seat at the restaurant's market for a midday snack or pull up to the bar for a happy-hour treat and you'll have a choice of a range of ingredients exclusively sourced from nearby farms and artisan crafters by executive chef Gavin Pera. For $24, get your pick of domestic artisanal cheeses, with current selections like Vermont's Bonne Bouche or Oregon's Rogue River Bleu. Then pair them with a wide variety of meats sourced exclusively from nearby Miami Smokers: high-end bacon, sausage, pancetta, speck, and salamis that offer a taste of locally raised pigs. The board also comes with toasted Marcona almonds and a fresh berry or fruit jam that changes daily and is made in-house. The best part: If you like what you sample, you can also buy it to take home from the in-house market that sells a number of locally sourced and produced products.
6. The Blind Monk
410 Evernia St., Suite 107, West Palm Beach. Call 561-833-3605, or visit theblindmonk.com.
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. That's the idea behind the charcuterie board at the Blind Monk in West Palm Beach, a small nook off Evernia Street best-known for its stellar wine and beer menus. The Monk's dedication to offering only topnotch selections with its handpicked array of specialty and boutique bottles crosses over to the food menu too. According to general manager Jason Hunt, that same philosophy applies to everything the restaurant produces in-house, including a stunning charcuterie board. Rather than do in-house curing and fermenting, Hunt leaves it to the pros, sourcing some of the best American-made artisan meats and cheeses from across the country. The Blind Monk philosophy of using the best of the best (and also those who prescribe to an all-organic, humane, and environmentally conscious mantra) is applied here as well. Selections rotate according to supply and demand but always include a wide variety, from a spicy cured sausage to a country ham — solid representations of each type of meat and cut. Diners are encouraged to build their own boards, with "sides" like pickled red onion, whole-grain mustard, spiced nuts, marinated mushrooms, candied figs, and dark chocolate (all made in-house).
5. PB Catch
251 Sunrise Ave., Palm Beach. Call 561-655-5558, or visit pbcatch.com.
These days, curing isn't just for meat. Though it's not hard to find a fresh cut of tuna in South Florida, it's not every day that you see it prepared the way you'll find it at PB Catch in Palm Beach, where chef de cuisine Aaron Black makes some amazing cured fish. Black wanted to ensure his menu stayed true to its coastal concept and culture when he developed his version of seafood charcuterie, which he named "seacuterie." By experimenting with the curing and smoking process of different fish, he was able to put South Florida on the map for an innovative twist on the classic craft using sustainable catches. The seacuterie offered at PB Catch includes a choice of three or six selections, everything from cured white tuna and smoked mussel piperade to a scallop-style mortadella and octopus torchon, named for the sous-vide method of preparing foie gras. Speaking of the famed goose liver, there's a monkfish foie gras here as well, served with pickled spicy cipollini onions, sesame seeds, lime zest, and a Szechuan tamarind sauce. The menu changes daily, based on what is fresh and available from local purveyors, says Black, so be prepared to see things like cured sea bass, salmon, and hiramasa. There's also a smoked fish dip on the board, a nice addition to this seafood-focused plate.
4. City Cellar Wine Bar & Grill
700 S. Rosemary Ave., West Palm Beach. Call 561-366-0071, or visit citycellarwpb.com.
At City Cellar in West Palm Beach, executive chef Kevin Darr has created an extensive in-house charcuterie program that features a variety of meats and allows patrons to mix and match up to 80 seasonally rotating cheeses. Darr began making charcuterie a serious part of the City Cellar a little more than three years ago after learning alongside the Big Time Restaurant Group's sister establishment executive chef Louie Bossi in Chicago under artisan salumi maker Brian Polcyn, author of Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing. Darr's love began with curing pork belly with pancetta for a pasta dish he featured with house-cured meat. Later, it morphed into seasonally rotating range of items designed to appeal to every level of diner, from simple soppressata and coppa to a foie gras pâté. The chef also loves prosciutto; right now, there are 17 cuts of Palmetto Creek Farms pig at various aging stages. Imported selections aren't made in-house, of course, but feature hard-to-find options including a Bayonne ham from France, Italian Parma prosciutto, and an acorn-fed Iberico ham from Spain that's so good, it's served by itself without any accompaniments. When you order a charcuterie board, you get a choice of three or five meats served with house-made jam, rotating in-house pickled vegetables, truffle honey, imported French mustard, marinated olives, and toasted baguette bread.
3. Louie Bossi's Ristorante
1032 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-356-6699, or visit louiebossi.com.
Specializing in salumi, cured meats, and house-made condiments, it’s no wonder Louie Bossi's Ristorante in Fort Lauderdale presents a well-executed charcuterie board. Here, Louie Bossi — eponymous chef-partner of the restaurant — says he's on a mission to bring handcrafted foods to South Florida. In addition to handmade
2. Market 17
1850 SE 17th St., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-835-5507, or visit market17.net.
Market 17 executive chef Lauren DeShields was one of the area's first charcuterie lovers; in the past four years, she has helped to elevate the kitchen's in-house charcuterie program to new heights, producing a variety of in-house selections that can be ordered alone, found in dishes, or arranged on a board with cheeses and sides. To keep it local, DeShields says she will break down whole animals delivered straight from Florida Fresh Meat Co. in Summerville, where pasture-raised pork and grass-fed beef provide a clean start for many of her fresh sausage selections, made several times a week. Depending on seasonal ingredients, sausage selections like lemon thyme chicken to a Thai chili pork can be ordered grilled and sliced with bread and mustard. For cured and fermented picks, DeShields will order specific cuts — from the loin and shoulder to the butt and belly — before salting and curing anywhere from three weeks to two months. The process creates a variety of meats including a dry-cured coppa, a pork belly bacon known as pancetta, or culatello for country ham. Order three, five, or seven options along with cheese sourced from local and specialty farms across the United States as well as pickled vegetables, chutneys, nuts, and spreads.
1. Rebel House
297 E. Palmetto Park Road, Boca Raton. Call 561-353-5888, or visit lifetastesbetter.com.
At the Rebel House in Boca Raton, executive chef-owner Mike Saperstein and executive sous chef Danielle Herring are on a mission to make this Palm Beach County restaurant one of the top spots for cured meats. Behind the scenes, you'll find Herring grinding and stuffing specially sourced meats to keep a rotating selection of four cured or fermented charcuterie on the menu at all times, including a six-month-aged coppa (a dry-cured meat from the neck of the pig), soppressata (an Italian dry salami),
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.