Charcuterie boards have been popular for a few years now, but making them – and making them well – is actually quite an art. Today I wanted to share the easy steps you need to make the perfect charcuterie board!
First let’s chat the basics: what exactly is a charcuterie board?!
Charcuterie is a style of ‘cooking’ involving prepared meats, such as ham & sausage. While the original concept was all about the cured meats, modern charcuterie boards usually include other types of food, most notably cheeses, fruits and spreads.
The first step is really simple: pick a board! It’s dealers choice really when it comes to this – some people prefer wood, other’s like marble. Some people choose a square board, others choose a round one. What you want to keep in mind is functionality; how many people are you serving with your charcuterie board?
2 – 4 people: stick with something only slightly bigger than a dinner plate – think 8 1/2 x 11 for a rectangular board.
4 – 8 people: something around 20×20 or 18x 24 would be great.
10 + people: the sky’s the limit! You can also mix and match (instead of creating one board) and have multiple mid and small size boards. This is ideal if you’re having a party and want to be able to ‘spread the charcuterie love’ around a table or throughout your party area.
The key is not choosing too big of a board in order to create the classic charcuterie ‘full’ look. You’ll want everything to be touching and covering almost all of the space.
I would suggest choosing 2-3 meats and 2-3 cheeses for your board. Think about different textures when making your selection – you’ll want at least one harder meat (sliced sausage works great) and one thin (sliced salami for example).
Similarly you’ll want at least 1 hard cheese and at least 1 soft cheese. Some great options are aged white cheddar, smoked gouda, bree & goat cheese.
You’ll want to have 3 or 4 different ‘extras’ to complement the meats & cheeses. I would recommend at least one fruit & one nut in that 3-4. For the others, think about what flavors would complement the meats and cheeses. Suggestions include:
– gerkin pickles
– dried apricots
– artichoke hearts
– crackers or breadstick slices
Finally you’ll want to add garnishes. I always recommend at least one herb be placed throughout the board – my go-to is rosemary. You may also want to add honeycomb or small jars of jam / jelly.
The easiest way is to start is by creating anchors. Ie. place your hard meats, hard cheeses and any jars you may have on the board first since they will easily stay in place. From there, you build your board around them.
Next, add your soft meats. Place them up against the harder cheeses for support.
Now start adding your larger extras – soft cheese, piles of berries, dried fruits, olives.
Finally, add the smaller loose items – nuts, herb garnishes.
Not necessarily. Your theme can totally be ‘meats and cheeses you like’. But, if you do want something a bit more cohesive I recommend gearing your choices to the season. For example, I made this board for our New Year’s Eve party last month and so I wanted it to be very wintery.
To make the winter charcuterie board I went with heavier/heartier meats and cheeses as my base and opted for seasonal extras & garnishes. For fruits I used mandarin slices (aka. Christmas oranges), blackberries and pomegranate. I also made a bowl of sugared cranberries for an extra boost of holiday.
And there you have it!! Let me know what you think!!