Want a quick, simple, and impressive party dish that involves no cooking at all? Try a Charcuterie Board!
Charcuterie Boards look beautiful and are oh-so-easy to put together. Whether it's an elaborate holiday dinner or Friday night with friends, a charcuterie [Shar-cute-er-ree] board is a wonderful way to add a simple appetizer to special occasions. It's versatile, takes minimal effort and can be customized to the season, holiday, or preferences of your guests.
In France, where charcuterie shops originated, the practice of curing and preserving meats dates back to the 15th century. The charcuteriers sold their cured meats to villagers to supplement the supply of fresh food available throughout the year.
Traditionally made of cured, dried meats, now almost anything goes. Pick out your favorite meats, cheeses, crackers, and a few other items. Arrange on a flat surface. And voila -- you’re done!
If you’re looking to up your Charcuterie game, look no further! Here’s a guide for creating a charcuterie board that’s a delight for the eyes as well as the tastebuds.
What you’ll need:
You don’t need fancy equipment to make a gorgeous spread. You can even serve them directly off a clean kitchen counter. Here are some tools that make displaying and serving easier.
- A board – any cutting board, wood plank, rimmed baking sheet or serving platter will work.
- Serving utensils – you can use cheese knives, salad forks, teaspoons, and butter knives
- Small dishes or Ramekins for messy or moist items like jam, honey, olives, etc.
What to include on your Charcuterie Board:
The best boards focus on 3 things: variety, taste, texture. Variety makes a great board – add items that are sweet, salty, crunchy, fatty, savory, carb-rich, pickled or brined. Use a selection of sweet and savory items along with more mild and strong flavors to provide a balanced selection.
- Cheeses. We suggest a blend of hard cheese, spreadable cheese, and soft cheese, like brie. Arrange them around the board. Pre-slice hard cheeses and cut a few wedges into the brie.
- Meats. Fold the meat in halves or triangles. Arrange them in your hand as you would a deck of cards then set them down in groups.
- Pickled Items. Add items that require a dish so you can gauge your space.
- Condiments and Spreads. Place condiments near cheeses that pair well. (i.e. honey next to brie). Keep condiments in jars and ramekins.
- Fresh Fruit. Place fruit next to the cheese that it pairs well with. Apples, for example, pair well with most cheeses, especially cheddar, mozzarella, and brie. Grapes also pair well with mozzarella and hard cheeses. Place Strawberries and blueberries next to creamy, soft cheeses like goat cheese. Cut grapes into small portions and pre-slice apples, rinse, and pat dry berries.
- Nuts and Extras. Place pecans or walnuts next to brie or soft cheeses. Also add chocolate squares.
- Arrange crackers and toasts in remaining spaces or serve them in a separate platter
Some pro tips to get you started:
Vegetarian option- leave out the meats to make a vegetarian cheese platter. Select a variety of cheeses to serve along with crackers, bread, fruit, nuts, olives, or spreads.
Theme board - Your board can be themed towards the type of event, season, or holiday you are celebrating. Choose seasonal items that are available during the time of year. Persimmons or pomegranates are great during fall or winter. Berries for the summer, Spiced nuts during the holiday season/
Budget option: The cost of a Charcuterie board can run anywhere from $75 to $300 depending on the types of cheese, meats, and other items you buy. But you can make a less expensive board using seasonal fruit, low-cost cheese options [like cheddar] and multi-packs of cured meats from the supermarket.
And yes, you can prepare ahead! With the exception of the sliced fresh fruit, everything can be prepared and set up on the board ahead of time. Wrap the board in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator up to 24 hours ahead of time. When it's time to serve, take off the plastic wrap and add the sliced fresh fruit. Remove the cheeseboard from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving, so cheese and cured meats can come to room temperature
How to Make a Charcuterie Board
PREP TIME: 20 mins 10-12 servings
- ¼ pound hard sheep's milk cheese, swiss or pecorino romano
- ½ pound soft creamy cow's milk cheese brie or camembert
- ⅓ pound semi-soft cow's milk cheese aged cheddar or gouda
- ⅓ pound soft semi-soft goat cheese chevre or drunken goat
- ¼ pound thinly sliced hot capicola or pepperoni
- ¼ pound thinly sliced Italian dry salami or prosciutto
- ¼ pound ham
Fruit and nut options
- Dried apricots, figs, or cranberries
- Fresh pears, apples, or grapes
- Walnuts, almonds, or pistachios
- Green and black olives
- Jam or fruit chutney
- Crackers and flatbreads
- Dark chocolate squares
- Herbs for garnish [optional]
- Lay out a large platter or cutting board for the base of the charcuterie board.
- Place two smaller trays or containers in opposite corners on the board. Fill one of them with crackers or bread and the other with the roasted grapes and olives, jam, or chutney.
- Arrange the cheeses around the empty spaces on the board.
- Thinly slice the fresh fruit and arrange them next to the pieces of cheese.
- Fold the slices of meat into quarters or into small bunches and tuck them between the fruit, cheese, and trays.
- Fill in any remaining spaces left on the tray with dried fruit and nuts. Garnish finished tray with herbs.