The charcuterie board is a way to serve a variety of appetisers to a group of people without worrying too much about preparing many items. Instead, you take the ingredients and arrange them on a large board to create a delightful display of food.
Charcuteries are a fun way to feed several people, particularly for parties, game nights, or holidays. However, if you’re not sure how to put one together, we’ve created a guide to making a board that will appeal to a wide variety of people and is relatively simple to make.
Start with the Board
What will you serve your charcuterie on? This is where you should begin. How will you serve the food? This can be an elegant tray, or a simple piece of wood. The choice is yours.
Take a look around your home to see if you have anything suitable. If you only have several smaller wood boards or trays, you can also use multiple boards to present the food. Try using wooden cutting boards if you have any, as these usually look beautiful as a background to good food.
Add Bowls and Containers
For some items you’ll need small bowls, ramekins or dishes that can be filled with cream cheese, oils or olives, etc. These do not need to be large, but if you have any fun shaped containers, these can add some interest, particularly for holidays. A star shaped dish with some olives in it will make a Christmas board look that much merrier.
While the containers may be colourful, remember that the food should be the star of the show and for this reason, you may wish to use only white or wooden dishes and bowls. They will show off the colours of the food that much better.
Choose Your Ingredients
While you can adjust the ingredients for your board to your particular interests, there are some basics to consider. These are mainly suggestions, however, as you can create anything you like. There are even vegan charcuterie boards, so the actual foods chosen will make a big difference in how the board looks and tastes.
If you want a specially themed board, consider selecting all your ingredients with that theme in mind, such as Italian or Brazilian. You could also create a sweet and salty board, with a blend of sweet and savoury foods. There are infinite possibilities, but here we’ll share some of the more common ingredients.
Cured meats are the best choice for this type of platter, so you should look for some options like salami, ham, pepperoni, prosciutto, etc. There are plenty of choices available in your local deli. Ideally, you want a range of flavours and spiciness levels so people can pick and choose what they like. Aim to have about two ounces of meat per person and plan for at least three types of meat.
Depending on the meat, you can either roll slices, spread them out, or cut the meat into cubes for easier consumption.
Of course, you can’t have a charcuterie board without cheese. This is your chance to get creative and enjoy putting out plenty of options for people to try out. You can aim for 2-3 oz. of cheese per person and should try to vary the textures. This means you can opt for harder cheeses like cheddar, smoked Gouda, or Pecorino Romano, but also include Brie and cream cheese for a bit of variety.
Sometimes you need a bit of sweetness to add that special touch to your food. This is the perfect time to include some delicious fresh fruit on the board. Some fruits are better than others, however, so consider adding a bowl of pomegranate seeds, fresh figs, or grapes. Berries are also welcome.
You may wish to opt for dried fruit, however, if you want to keep the juice to a minimum. Dried mango, dates, or cranberries all go very well with the rest of the ingredients and are easy to serve.
Don’t forget the vegetables! Carrot sticks, celery sticks, peppers, and other sliced vegetables are always popular and can add a pop of colour to the board, as well. These can add a bit of crunch and a lighter bite to the heavier, richer meats and cheeses.
Cured vegetables are also a good addition to the board, so look for different types of pickles and olives to include. These can add a little more flavour to everything.
It’s always a good idea to include some bread or something simple to place the meat and cheese on, as well as a base for your spreads. Consider buying some more elegant types of breads, breadsticks or water biscuits. You can also toast bread and cut it into small triangles or squares for display purposes.
Don’t just purchase the cheap options, though. This is a good time to splurge on flavourful and more exotic types of water biscuits.
Spreads and Dips
Anything that can be spread on a bit of toast can be served up with your meats and cheeses. Plan to have at least three or four options for spreads or dips. Some popular options include tapenade, pesto, honey, clotted cream, and spinach dip. Get creative here and provide some unique choices for people to test out.
You’ll also want to collect some different nuts and seeds to offer your guests. Choose anything you like, but keep in mind that guests will find it easier to eat slightly larger pieces. Walnuts, pecans, almonds, and peanuts are all excellent options and can be marinated or flavoured for even more fun.
Finally, you’ll want to garnish your charcuterie board. Sprigs of herbs like rosemary or oregano are perfect for this. For a softer look, you may wish to incorporate edible flowers, but keep in mind they won’t last as long as herbs.
Arrange the Main Items
To create the perfect board, start with the smaller containers and set them at strategic intervals around the board. Around these, you can place the meat and cheese in elegant arrangements or simply piled on the board.
Try to spread the items out so you have a nice balance of meat and cheese arranged around the board.
Fill in the Gaps
The next step is to fill in the gaps around the board with your other items. Put your water biscuits, bread pieces, fruits and veggies in the spaces between the meats and cheese. Again, try to spread these out a bit so you can enjoy a visual feast, as well as a tasty one.
Now you can fill the bowls and small containers with the dips, spreads, and smaller pieces such as olives or nuts. It’s also fine to sprinkle nuts and seeds around the board to fill in the smallest gaps.
Add Your Garnishes
With all the pieces in place, you can add your garnishes to finish off the entire board. It will look beautiful with herbs and sprigs tucked in around the edges to give it the finished look. You can even use kale or lettuce to create a backdrop for the other ingredients.
Serve Your Friends and Family
Place the board or boards on the table and let everyone enjoy it. You may wish to offer small plates for people to collect the food items they wish to try. Don’t forget to give them ways to scoop up dips and spreads, such as small spoons, spreading knives, etc. You can also provide tiny forks to lift meat and cheese onto their plates.
Of course, the best charcuterie boards will go wonderfully with a glass of wine or a drink of your choice. Be sure to keep the food and drink flowing and you’ll have a good event.
The trick to creating the perfect charcuterie is to purchase quality ingredients. When the ingredients are the best you can find, you don’t need a lot to satisfy the palate. Be sure to invest in some excellent cheese and meat to really impress your guests.
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