At first, the task of putting together a Charcuterie Board can seem daunting, especially with all the elaborate photos posted on social media. But not to worry, I have some tips to help you easily throw one together!
Charcuterie (shar-coo-da-ree) is a French word devoted to prepared meat products. But a Charcuterie Board can be so much more than meats. The wonderful thing about a charcuterie board is its versatility.
You will need to find a platter or wood cutting board for your base. If you do not have anything large, gather a few plates close together so that their edges meet. Just make sure you are setup exactly where the Charcuterie Board is going to stay because you won’t be able to move it easily when it’s all put together!
Scour your cabinets for small bowls or cups that you could use to display ingredients in. Even a teacup or stemless cocktail glass would work. Gather everything together in the space you are going to assemble your board.
You’d be surprised what food treasures hide in your cabinets that can turn your Charcuterie Board into a culinary masterpiece.
For the ingredients you will most likely only need 2-3 varieties of meats and cheeses and 1-2 of everything else. Here’s a simple list to help you get started:
- Quality Cheese (such as Brie, Swiss, Sharp Cheddar, Fresh Mozzarella balls, Chèvre, Muenster, Provolone, Vegan Cheese)
- Quality Cured Meats (such as Prosciutto, Serrano ham, Mortadella, Salami, Sopressata, Chorizo, Vegan Sausage)
- Fresh Fruit (such as Seedless Grapes, Apple Slices, Plums and Peach Slices, Orange Segments)
- Fresh Vegetables (such as Cherry Tomatoes, Sliced Sweet Peppers, Carrots)
- Dried Fruit (such as Apricots, Dates, Apple, Papaya, Pineapple, Banana, Cranberries)
- Fermented Foods (such as Olives, Pickles, Red Roasted Peppers, Marinated Mushrooms)
- Nuts (shells removed are best)
- Crackers (Baguette, Whole Grain Crackers, Pretzels, Mini Rice Cakes, Gluten-free Mary’s Gone Crackers)
- Spreads (such as Jams, Bruschetta and Dips)
- Drizzles (such as Honey and Balsamic Glaze)
- Pre-assembled appetizers (such as Bacon Wrapped Dates, Mini Spinach Pies, Mini Skewers of Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Balls or Mini Skewers of Prosciutto and Fresh Melon)
You’d be surprised what food treasures hide in your cabinets that can turn your Charcuterie Board into a culinary masterpiece. Go raid your fridge and cabinets! Find those last servings of nuts, dried fruit and crackers hiding in the cabinet. Find that small piece of cheese, handful of cherry tomatoes and last few pickles hanging out in your fridge.
Here are a few simple suggestions to help you put it together:
- Always think in odd numbers. This is a good rule of thumb for displaying anything! 3 is a magical number. Now you might opt for more or less depending if you have space to fill, but 3 groupings of each type of food or each item is a good starting point.
- Think how to display the same ingredient in different ways. Only have sliced salami? Cut some up for one placement on your platter, bunch some up for another, and roll some for your 3rd placement. You don’t have to change things up, but sometimes it’s just fun to experiment.
- Throw in something that is a special appetizer all on its own. How about some bacon wrapped dates? They are always a crowd pleaser. Plus there’s the added bonus of using any extra plain dates by themselves somewhere else on your platter. Mini spinach pies? Tomato and mozzarella balls or prosciutto and melon paired together on mini skewers? It’s all going to be delicious.
- Consider allergies and special diets. I personally have dietary restrictions. So I always keep gluten-free crackers in a separate dish or in it’s own little area on the platter. Same goes with nuts, dairy, and meat options for your vegetarian guests. Let your guests know before they dig in what’s up. You can also label items or create a smaller separate platter which your guests with restrictions will completely appreciate. Just make sure you have at least a few choices to please everyone.
- Assume that some items will not be eaten but still add an esthetic value. I know that ingredients such as the banana chips and dried papaya aren’t always a favorite with fresh fruit available, but they are a thrifty sweet option and add some nice color to the board. Some of it will get eaten, but never all of it.
- Cover every inch of the board/platter. For a successful board just like those examples on social media, make sure you cover all of the board/platter. This is where those handy small portions from your cabinets and fridge come into play. Dried fruit and nuts is also a helpful filler for this task.
- Consider how ingredients might be layered on one cracker. How about goat cheese with a slice of plum and ribbon of fresh basil? Brie with a dried apricot and drizzle of balsamic? The possibilities are endless.
- Mix and match flavors and textures. I am a huge fan of the savory and sweet combination. Try to have a few items that are an instant winning combo. You can use mini skewers to group the ingredients together or place them next to each other. How about pretzels, chocolate chips and almonds? Red seedless grapes with a nice chunk of cheese?
- Add small bowls for a couple of items. The bowls will help take up more space and add visual interest to your platter. They can be used to hold any ingredient but are a must for items such a jams, oily olives, honey, dry herbs and fruit like pomegranate seeds.
- Help your guests dig in. Are your guests just admiring your handy work or are they digging in? Sometimes the host/ess needs to start. Grab a cracker, layer a piece of meat/cheese/pomegranate seeds and a drizzle of honey… show them how a professional eats.
There’s really no wrong way to put together a Charcuterie Board. There’s just something so simple, so elegant about having one for your guests (or just yourself). There’s really no cooking required and it pairs well for any occasion with a glass of wine or non-alcoholic fizzy drink like a citrus sparkling water. Party on.
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