Sunday, October 23, 2016

Colonel Mustard's Charcuterie & Mostarda

I threw a Clue-themed cocktail party, with one food item and one drink themed around each of the six murder suspects from the boardgame. Colonel Mustard lends himself exceptionally well to food items (although was a rather more unusual muse for cocktails). I went with a selection of mustards, mostarda (an Italian fruit and mustard condiment), and a variety of charcuterie.

Colonel Mustard's platter of prepared meats, mustards and motarda

The mostarda (center dish) really set this platter apart from similar platters I've had before, and fit the mustard-y theme very well. The flavor is complex and sweet, with soft fruits coated in a slightly spicy syrup. The internet has such a wide variety of recipes for mostarda - some require three days of cooking, while others can be made in minutes, some require just two or three sorts of fruits, while others boast long ingredient lists. This recipe finds a sort of middle balance. The overnight step allowed the flavors to develop and improved the quality of this condiment significantly. As an added bonus, this makes it more convenient for serving at a party where lots of other preparation is involved! The mix of three dried fruits and two fresh fruits fruits leads to more interesting variety in texture and color. I think the exact type of fruits is less important than a good variety - which makes this easier to whip up with whatever you have in the kitchen!

Assembling The Colonel's Charcuterie Platter

Ingredients shown here
  • Meats: Mortadella, Prosciutto, Pate
  • Green grapes
  • Olives
  • Dried fruits: apricots, figs, dates
  • Mustards: ancient grain mustard, Dijon mustard
  • Mostada (see recipe below)
Things to keep in mind when putting together your platter:
  1. Aim to have a variety of types of meat. I went with a truffle pate, prosciutto and mortadella. These three meats have three different textures and methods of preparation. Pate, as its name implies, is a soft paste. Prosciutto is a salty dry-cured ham, while mortadella is a cooked ham. If I were to add a fourth meat, it would probably have been something with a little spice, to mx things up.
  2. Estimate 2-3 oz of meat per person, assuming there are other dishes being served at the same meal.
  3. Balance the meat with other nibbles. Pickled vegetables, like fennel or cucumbers, would have been delicious here. I went with a mixture of dried fruits and fresh fruits.
  4. A variety of colors looks appealing. Green grapes contrast the pink color of the meats, for example.

Mostarda: Ingredients

This recipe can be made with a variety of fruits you have on hand. Get creative!

  • 2/3 lb fresh fruit. I used an apple and a pear, but you could also do grapes, cherries or other stone fruits.
  • 4 oz dried fruits. I used dates, figs and apricots, but you could also use dried cherries, raisins, or other fruits.
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp dried mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 1 cup water

Mostarda: Instructions

  1. Dice the fresh fruits into 1 cm chunks. Cut up any large dried fruits into similarly sized cubes.
  2. Combine all ingredients into a medium saucepan and simmer until the fresh fruits are soft.
  3. Remove the bay leaves, cool the mixture, and refrigerate overnight before serving.
Mostarda is an Italian condiment made with mustard and fruits

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