Charcuterie with a south of the border twist? I’m your girl. I want to show you how easy a Mexican-Inspired Charcuterie Board is to assemble. Think of the highlights of Mexican meats, cheeses, and munchies (or antojitos) all on a grazable board.
I’m partnering with Water Grows to bring you this epic fiesta-esque board. More importantly, I want you to see how vital to our everyday lives water is. Because of the work of hundreds of farmers, ranchers, and producers, I have the privilege of having access to quality dairy, fruits, proteins, and veggies. And the most important thing all of those foods- and our bodies- have in common is that they need water to grow. Let’s get into just how creative we can get with this edible fiesta.
Why are water and farmers so important?
I attended a Conservation Charcuterie event last night sponsored by Water Grows and a handful of Texas farmers. Learning about how water affects the farmers’ crops and how they get to us solidified my belief that nothing should ever be wasted. Some of the farmers at yesterday’s events have upwards of 400 acres to farm. Each of those acres requires an insane amount of water to grow crops on, too. These farmers are using technology designed to provide the correct amount of water to individual plants. This effort of reducing water run-off and thereby reducing water waste really gave me pause. If they’re making such an effort to conserve water on such a large plot of land, I need to be even more laser-focused on doing the same here at home.
This recipe was brought to you by farmers like these. When you’re selecting your meats, cheeses, veggies, and fruits for inclusion on your charcuterie boards, I hope they come to your mind as they come to mine.
What is a Mexican-Inspired Charcuterie Board?
Charcuterie is a French culinary term for the subject dedicated to the art of cured and forced meats. Pâtés, terrines, cured meats, and confits all fall under this category. Over time, the phrase “charcuterie board” has become an umbrella term for “a bunch of snack-ish items on a board,” especially here in the States. But, for it to be a true charcuterie board, you must have meats on it. This Mexican-inspired charcuterie board incorporates cured meats like salami, chorizo, and ham, as well as other ingredients that balance each other out.
Cheese is a natural complement to meats. With this board, I’ve selected a mix of creamy, mild cheeses in addition to piquant, sharp options to play off of the richer and leaner meats on the board.
Fruits and veggies break through the bolder flavors of the meat and cheeses while also acting as palate cleansers. Finally, our board is made complete with an assortment of dried fruits and pastes, nuts, chocolate, and briny elements like olives.
But, wait! There’s more!
If you’ve lived in Texas for any length of time, I hope you have had the privilege of eating elotes (eh-LOW-tehs). Because Mexican street corn is a snack time favorite of mine, I wanted to include it in this Mexican-inspired charcuterie board.
Elotes present a slight issue with being on a charcuterie board because they’re not conducive to grazing. Everyone who knows and loves a good board knows that grazing is their greatest appeal. Instead of leaving the corn on the cob- elote– I’m creating esquites (ehs-KEE-tehs). Esquites are made the same way as elotes, but kernels are served in a cup instead of on the cob.
The first step is charring the corn on a grill for 20 minutes or until the kernels are nicely toasted. You can also skip the charring of the corn on the cob and, instead, use fresh corn kernels or even canned corn. Simply drain the canned corn first.
How do I finish the esquites?
Once you have your corn nice and toasty, cut the kernels off of the cob and into a large mixing bowl.
Add minced red bell peppers, jalapeño, chopped cilantro, diced avocado, and minced red onion to the bowl with the corn.
The best part of esquites is the dressing that flavors it. Add fresh lime juice, Tajín, and crema to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Mexican crema is very much like sour cream, though a bit runnier. If you don’t have crema, you can replace it with sour cream, mayo, or crème fraîche. Tajín is another Mexican favorite. It’s a spice blend of mild chile peppers, salt, and lime.
Once you add those, use a large spoon to stir your esquites together.
How do I serve the Esquites on the Charcuterie Board?
Cover the bowl of esquites and refrigerate them for 30 minutes. This gives the flavors in the dressing a chance to permeate the corn.
It’s difficult to imagine a grazing board with a corn salad, right? Well, that’s where endive leaves come into play. Endive comes from the chicory family, which means it needs a good amount of water to grow. Thankfully, along with many other vegetables and fruits on our Mexican-inspired charcuterie board, water has made this possible. Shout out to water!
Trim the root end of the endive to separate the leaves. Rinse the endive leaves under running water and dry them well with a paper towel or a kitchen towel. Set these on a sheetpan or platter until you’re ready to serve your esquites.
You only need to spoon the esquites onto the individual leaves once the board is set up.
What kind of meats and cheeses work for this Mexican-Inspired Charcuterie Board?
Though I’m not a native Texan, I love my adopted state. As a result, I like to support local businesses that are creating great products. I encourage you to seek out local purveyors of meats and cheeses to incorporate their products into your charcuterie board.
For my board, I’m starting with a honey and pequin chile coppa (or capicola) made from ranch-raised Texas Iberico pork. Coppa is similar in texture to prosciutto, but the flavors of this cured version are slightly sweet and spicy. Additionally, the use of Serrano ham is a nod to the Spanish roots of Mexico. This ham has a buttery mouthfeel with a salty flavor. Spanish chorizo is a hard sausage with sweet paprika, and bold spices have a delicate, clean flavor. Finally, a wild card on my part, mole salami, which has a bit of heat with caramelly-cinnamon notes. Mole is a quintessential Mexican recipe, so using a salami that features it just makes sense here.
Choose a mixture of sharp and mild cheeses to create harmony on your charcuterie boards. Panela is similar in flavor to mozzarella: creamy and mild. A honey chevre combines tart and tangy with sweetness. Manchego, from Spain, is sharp, much like a white cheddar is. Finally, a bit of sweet heat: a chipotle cranberry cheddar. You get the best flavor profiles in this cheese: sweet, smoky, spicy, and tangy.
Fruits that go well on this Charcuterie Board
I select fruits that are tropical or native to Mexico. Mangos, pineapples, star fruit (or carambola) are all very common in Mexican cuisine. Some other great options are:
- Tuna (prickly pear)
- pink guava
Select fruit that is sweet, firm, and can be eaten with the peel on or that can be peeled to make eating from the charcuterie board easy.
Best veggies for this Mexican board
Texture is the name of the game here, and thanks to farmers, we have loads of veggies with texture to choose from. I love the subtle radish flavor of jicama. It crunches like a carrot but is pleasantly mild when paired with the richer, fatty meats and cheeses. Cucumbers are a popular snack food in Mexican culture, especially when they’re drizzled with chamoy and sprinkled with tajín.
Cut your veggies into a variety of shapes. Think sticks, slices, and chips. This will add visual contrast to the thin meats and cheese wedges.
Here are some other veggies to use:
- sliced bell peppers
And don’t forget the esquites that are waiting for us in the fridge!
How to finish this Mexican-Inspired Charcuterie Board
Water has played a huge part in our Mexican charcuterie board thus far. Our bounty of veggies, fruits, meats, and dairy wouldn’t be here without it. But, one of the things I love most about building an amazing board is the condiments and garnishes that act as the “jewelry” to the rest of the ingredients.
You can go full-on cave[wo]man and eat everything from this charcuterie board with your hands, but I find a nice slice of toasted bread is more my style. Thinly slice a couple of Mexican bolillos. Bolillo bread is very much like small French baguettes. Instead of baking in a deck oven, they were traditionally baked in a stone hearth. You can find them in most Hispanic markets, but if not, grab a French baguette and thinly slice it the same way.
Give the slices a light toast. This will make them sturdy enough to transport your charcuterie creations from the board to your mouth.
Next are the “paste elements.” I add these to my boards to mediate between hard meats and cheeses and the crispy bread. Biting through a slice of sweet-tart guava paste or mildly sweet membrillo is a treat. You
You can also use spreads like fig, tamarind or mango chutney, or a bacon jam.
Finally, no board would be complete without a crunchy, briny, or nutty element. This board is no exception.
Chile-flecked olives add a briny, salty element. Dried plums and those fruit pastes add a concentrated jam-like quality to our board. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate with coffee and piloncillo (a hard, dark sugar), cuts through the heavy flavors. Finally, a favorite of ours, cacahuates Japones, or Japanese-style peanuts. Not really Japanese. These are flavored with chili-limon and a hint of mango. They add a crunchy, nutty element to our board.
What do you serve all of this on?
I think the actual board is where you can make this Mexican charcuterie board uniquely yours. Most often, I use the largest wooden cutting board I own to build my charcuterie board on. But don’t limit yourself to a cutting board. Many other surfaces can act as a display for your meats and cheeses. Try some of these:
- a slate board
- parchment paper
- marble slab
- a nice, inverted sheet pan
- cake stands
Any surface that has a nice look to it can be used in place of a wood board. Don’t box your board in if you don’t have a large wooden cutting board. Use what you have.
How far ahead can I prepare my charcuterie board?
Once you have cut and prepped all of the elements for the Mexican-inspired charcuterie board, it’s time to assemble!
Most meats and cheese taste best when they’re allowed time to warm up slightly. You do have to keep them safe from foodborne illnesses, though, so try not to keep them at room temperature for too long. I usually assemble my charcuterie boards a couple of hours before I plan to serve them. I leave a space for things like chocolate, nuts, and bread that are safe at room temperature, which I add just before serving.
After I assemble the rest of the board, I wrap it to keep the meats and cheeses from drying out and keep the board in the fridge. You can store your assembled charcuterie board in the fridge for 24 hours.
How long can a charcuterie board sit out?
To keep ourselves safe, I recommend letting your charcuterie board sit out for 2 hours or less. Yes, I have allowed mine to sit out longer, but it’s always best to be safe.
If you find there’s a lull in the grazing, pop the entire board into the fridge to extend its life.
Can I store food that’s leftover from my Mexican-Inspired Charcuterie Board?
I don’t recommend storing food that’s sat out for more than two hours at room temperature. The fluctuation in temps is a breeding ground for bacteria. If you think you’ll have too many leftovers, it’s best to only put out what you think you and your guests will eat. Once you see how easy it is to assemble, you will fly through putting more food out as needed.
I hope you will join me in learning more about the WaterGrows initiative. Take some time to learn about how water influences your daily meals and routines, then check out the www.watergrows.org site to learn how you can do your part to make it last.
Don’t forget to share this post, then pin it to your charcuterie board for easy finding.
If you’re looking for more great charcuterie boards, check these out:
- Easy Breakfast Charcuterie Board
- Christmas Charcuterie Board
- Date Night Charcuterie Board for Two
- Kid’s Themed Charcuterie Board
Mexican-Inspired Charcuterie Board
- Large serving board
For the Esquites
- 3 large ears corn peeled and rinsed
- 1/4 cup red onion minced
- 1/4 cup red bell pepper seeded and minced
- 1 large Hass avocado peeled and diced
- 1 medium jalapeño seeded and minced (optional)
- 2 tablespoons cilantro chopped
- 1/2 cup Mexican crema or sour cream
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese grated
- 1 medium lime juiced
- 2 teaspoons Tajín
- pinch black pepper
- 12 leaves endive separated, rinsed, and dried
For the Mexican-Inspired Charcuterie Board
- 4 ounces (126 grams) Mole salami (or hard salami)
- 4 ounces (113 grams) Spanish chorizo
- 3 ounces (85 grams) Serrano ham (or prosciutto)
- 2 ounces (56 grams) Honey and Pequin Chile Coppa (or capicola)
- 4 ounce (113 grams) honey chevre (or plain chevre)
- 4 ounces (113 grams) 4 month Manchego Cheese
- 3 ounces (84 grams) Cranberry Chipotle Cheddar Cheese (or sharp cheddar cheese)
- 3 ounces (84 grams) Queso Panela (or gouda)
- 2 Mexican bolillo rolls sliced 1/4-inch thick and toasted until light brown
Fruits and Veg for the Board
- 2 star fruit sliced
- 1 medium English cucumber sliced
- 1 medium mango peeled and sliced into half-moons
- 1/2 medium jicama peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 1/2 small pineapple peeled and cut into half-moons
Optional Condiments (add as little or as much as you'd like)
- guava paste
- quince paste
- Japanese peanuts
- dark chocolate
- dried fruits
Prepare the Esquites (up to 1 day ahead)
- Lightly oil the corn with vegetable oil. Heat a grill to 400°F (204°C). Once the grill is hot, lay the ears of corn on it. Grill the corn on all sides until the kernels are charred, or 12-15 minutes.
- Remove the corn from the grill and allow it to cool to the touch. Once cool, use a sharp knife to cut the kernels from the ears and into a large mixing bowl. Add the red onion, red bell pepper, avocado, jalapeño pepper, and cilantro to the bowl with the corn.
- Next, add the crema, parmesan cheese, juice of 1 lime, Tajín, and black pepper to the rest of the ingredients in the bowl. Use a large spoon to stir the contents of the bowl together until well combined.
- Cover the bowl and refrigerate the esquites for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes (or just before assembling your board), fill each of the endive leaves with a generous spoonful of esquites.
Assemble the Mexican-Inspired Charcuterie Board
- Assemble the board by furling the Serrano ham and the coppa into ruffles. Next, slice and fan out the mole salami and Spanish Chorizo.
- Cut the chipotle cheddar and the Manchego cheeses into triangles. Cut the Panela into squares, then crumble the chevre. Add the sliced bolillos.
- Nestle the star fruit, cucumber, mango, jicama, and pineapple around the meats and cheeses.
- Finish the board by adding your preferred amount of garnishes and spreads.
- Serve the board within 2 hours of presenting at room temperature.