Charcuterie boards are all the thing. And I am completely for it. I love cured meats and various delicious accompaniments. And it is such a simple and easy way to entertain. They’ve become a but ubiquitous though, so I am always looking for a little twist, something to make them more unique with a touch of homemade with the store-bought. I make jams and relishes that are perfect, but I wanted to go a step further. Then I remembered a garlic custard recipe I developed years ago – delicate little savory custards turned out on top of lightly dressed greens and served as an elegant starter. The texture, I knew, would be spreadable as well, so I revisited the idea as a delicious pairing with charcuterie and it is delightful. The mellow garlic flavor with the salty, fatty richness of the cured meats layered on crispy toasted bread is a perfect bite. I added the pop of confit tomatoes for contrast and it has been a huge hit.
This recipe make two 8-ounce ramekins of custard – and before you ask, no, don’t make it in one dish. The center of the custard will not set before the top overbrowns and becomes too firm. You could, however, make it in smaller ramekins for individual charcuterie plates. The slow cooked tomatoes hold their shape but pop to a jammy consistency perfect top top a toast layered with custard and cured meat. And any charcuterie will do. Prosciutto and speck are particularly nice, as is thin sliced salami or coppa or bresaola. I make the custards, turn the heat down on the oven and cook the tomatoes while the custards cool and chill. The custards and the tomatoes can be made a day or two ahead and kept in the fridge.
Garlic Custard and Confit Tomato Charcuterie Board
- Garlic Custard
12 cloves of garlic (from two heads)
1 cup plus 1 Tablespoon heavy cream
2 bay leaves
4 egg yolks at room temperature
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- Confit Tomatoes
1 pint cherry tomatoes
Olive oil to submerge
1 Tablespon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
- Garlic Custard
- Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Choose two 8-ounce ramekins and a high sided pan they will fit in (I use a metal 9 by 13 brownie pan). Bring a kettle of water to the boil.
- Peel the garlic cloves and lightly crush them. Add them to a small sauce pan with the milk, preferably one with a pouring spout and in which the milk will cover the garlic cloves. Drop in the bay leaves and heat over low heat for 20 – 25 minutes until the garlic cloves are soft. Do not boil, but a little bubble is good. Discard the bay leaves.
- Place the egg yolks in the carafe of a blender and pulse to beat them together. With the blender running, slowly pour in the warmed cream and garlic. Blend until smooth. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg and blend until combined.
- Place the ramekins in the larger pan and pour the custard into each, dividing it equally. Put the pan in the oven, then slowly pour the boiled water into the pan to come three quarters of the way up the sides of the ramekins. Go slowly so you don’t splash water into the custards. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until the custards are set and the tops are browned. A light touch on the top should feel springy and not leave a mark. Remove the pan from the oven, then remove the custards from the pan. Cool to room temperature, then chill for several hours or overnight. Let the custards sit out of the fridge for 20 minutes or so before serving.
- Confit Tomatoes
- Heat the oven to 250 degrees. Put the tomatoes in a small ceramic baking dish in one layer. Pour over enough olive oil to come about half way up the tomatoes. Drizzle over the balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. Cook for 1 – 1 ½ hours, until the tomatoes beginning to collapse, but still hold their shape and there is some light browning. Cool the tomatoes in the oil, then store in an airtight container, oil and all.
- Baguette Toasts
- Slice a baguette and lay the pieces on a baking sheet. Lightly brush with oil (you can use some oil from the tomatoes), sprinkle with salt and pepper and toast for 10 minutes at 400 degrees until lightly browned and crisp.