Here are tips and tricks on how to build a charcuterie board that will impress all of your friends and family, for any party or special occasion. Sponsored by CuttingBoard.com.
The holidays are upon us and that means parties, parties and MORE parties! And with all that entertaining, that means food. If all of this is daunting for you, I have the easiest party food for you to put together: a Charcuterie Board. Charcuterie is a French term meaning “cold cooked meats.”Charcuterie boards have seriously evolved from the simple salami and cheese on a plate scheme I grew up with. Gourmet meats and cheeses are easily available and then there are the other goodies you want to snack with it, too. The choices are endless, and I will teach you how you can customize and build a charcuterie board for your next party.
I tackle a charcuterie board the same way I develop recipes: it’a all about blending flavors and textures, plus adding color and eye candy. And after you are done, you will have a gorgeous charcuterie board that goes beyond just meat and cheese. There are two styles of charcuterie boards, from simple boards to those that are packed to the brim with bites to eat. How you pack your charcuterie board is up to you. This post is about what foods to put on your charcuterie board.
What Meat Should I Use?
As I mentioned before, mixing textures and flavors is the key when you build a charcuterie board. This includes options like hard dry salami, softer cotto salami, prosciutto, Serrano ham, mortadella, sopressata, smoked kielbasa and chorizo. With the meats, I like to have a variety already sliced. I love the look of a log of salami, so I tend to slice a few pieces, then place a knife so guests can slice their own. Other meat options include smoked salmon or paté.
What Cheese Should I Use?
Well, the sky’s the limit here. You can get technical and research the best meat-cheese parings, or you can choose based on your own taste preferences. For example, I am not a fan of blue cheese and will never serve it. But you could be a gorgonzola fan and always have it on your charcuterie board. Again, mixing flavors and textures is my guide. So for the hard cheeses, I personally like swiss, cheddar, parmesan and gouda. For the soft cheese, you can choose brie, feta, goat, camembert and burrata. Like a log of salami, I like to leave my cheese in wedge or wheel on the board. For the harder cheeses, I slice a few to get things started. Remember to have a knife, fork or spoon for each item you are serving. You don’t want the flavors mingling from mixing utensils.
But a charcuterie board is not just about meat and cheese. In small bowls, or strewn through your board you can add chopped pickles or little cornichons, olives, artichoke hearts, capers and peperoncinos. You can also add pickled vegetables like mushrooms, onions, bell peppers or jalapeños. My family is addicted to all these things, so we always have them in the refrigerator.
Again, you are looking for complimenting and contrasting flavors. You can also add jams, chutneys, honey, fruit compote, extra virgin olive oil, pesto, or a nice grainy mustard to compliment the flavors you have on your charcuterie board.
Keep it Fresh with Fruits, Herbs and Vegetables
I love adding colorful produce to my charcuterie board. What a wonderful way to feature what is in season! For summer try peaches, berries, and melons. Fall fruits like grapes, figs, pears, apples and pomegranate are wonderful choices, too. But it’s not just about fruit. I love adding gorgeous vegetables as well, like cherry tomatoes, Persian cucumbers, baby carrots, radishes, asparagus, snap peas, fava beans, jicama, zucchini and even sprouts or micro greens. For the vegetables, you can serve them raw, blanched or grilled — or a variety of all three! And don’t forget the fresh herbs. They aren’t just for garnish, either: basil, tarragon, mint, rosemary or green onions.
Breads and Chips
To pull it all together, you need bread! Baguette slices or a nice sourdough are a mainstay for the charcuterie board. But, you can also use bread sticks, pita, lavash, pretzels, crisps and crackers. For gluten free options, there are root vegetable chips or rice and seed crackers.
And if you still have room for your charcuterie board, you can add nuts, seeds, dried fruits, hummus, pasta salad, sun-dried tomatoes and edible flowers. Did I miss anything else???
How about what to serve it on? Well, that brings me to our very special giveaway!
This giveaway is now CLOSED.
I have teamed up with the nice folks over at CuttingBoard.com for this giveaway. I recently photographed some gorgeous olive wood cutting boards for their website. These boards are stunning and making wonderful serving platters for anything you serve up for your guests – especially for your charcuterie board. There are two prize packages for this giveaway: The first prize package is the large 2-feet olive wood slab (pictured above) plus my cookbook, Cooking Techniques and Recipes with Olive Oil ($180-value). These rustic boards come slightly irregular, so each one is unique and will make a stunning background to whatever you serve. The second prize package is a set of olive wood salad serves (pictured above) plus my cookbook ($45-value). Olive wood has a very distinct look. It is a hard and non-porous wood. It is easy to care for, simply rub it with olive oil. This will bring out the beautiful grain and add luster to your olive wood. Giveaway Disclosure: Must be 18 or older and live in the United States. Giveaway ends December 12, 2016.
Disclosure: I was paid a stipend by CuttingBoard.com to write this post. The opinions I expressed are mine. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t blog about it! This post does contain affiliate links.