How to: Perfect Charcuterie Board

IMG_20171123_122334.jpg

The Perfect Charcuterie Board

love a good charcuterie board or snack tray. It is one of the easiest and best ways to feed a big crowd. It is easy because it doesn’t actually require any cooking which is totally awesome!  People love charcuterie boards it is a conversation starter, and it creates a way for everyone to come together. Kinda like the coffee pot at work.

The first few times I put these “snack trays” together I felt pretty overwhelmed, but with time I have gotten pretty comfortable with it. A few general guidelines:

  • Try to find fun unique items. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy,  your grocery store has interesting items. For example honey with the comb in it or olives from a local place, or unground mustard. Just having a story on a few items with make it more fun.

  • Think about how many people you are feeding and what else they will be having that night. I just think about one salad plate full of food per person.

  • Get creative - I have done bbq themed boards, spring themed boards, and even dessert boards. Have fun with it, people love to snack you can’t go wrong.

IMG_20171216_192909.jpg

Snack Tray Components

What you are going to have on your board:

I would pick items to include in this order, to make sure that things taste well together.

  • Cheese - aged, soft, hard

  • Meat - hard, soft, sausages, thinly cut

  • Dips - hummus, honey, olive oil, pesto, tapenade, mustard

  • Fruit & Vegetables - cherry tomatoes, rainbow carrots, kiwi, cherries, peaches, pear, radishes, figs,

  • Bread & Crackers

  • Misc - olives, pickles, nuts (walnuts, pistachios), basil, rosemary, dried fruit (dates, golden raisins)

IMG_20171122_174749.jpg

Six Tips for Setting Up a Board:

Appearance:

Layers & Height

To make the board more visually appealing get in some height and depth.  Put bread sticks in a jar, layer cutting boards on top of themselves, or put things in different sized bowls. Stick the knife in the cheese sticking straight up. Just create some variety to make it more visually appealing.

Colors

Meats and cheeses do not have much color. Be sure and add it with other things like garnishes, fruits and vegetables. I buy rainbow carrots or leave the peel on apples. Figs cut in half are a great way to bring in some beautiful color. A watermelon radish looks so pretty cut up and is a great dipping vegetable.

IMG_20171120_185132.jpg

The Details:

Sweet, Savory, Spicy, Smoky & Salty

You need to cover all the flavors of our taste palate, okay you don’t need to but it is a fun way to think about it.

  • Sweet is easily covered by fruit and/or candy nuts. I love including a honey drizzle for bread, goat cheese or crackers. I also love candied pineapple or ginger, that is s fun unique touch.

  • Savory will be cheese and bread.  This is pretty much just covered by default when you do a board.

  • Spicy is my favorite. Spicy meats are the best, like peppered anything is yummy. Pickled peppers are also nice or a good spicy mustard.  

  • There are plenty of smoky flavored meats and cheese (like gouda). I also love a good smoky bbq sauce for sausage dipping.

  • Salty is one that I added to my list later, because I love salty.  Goat cheese, olives, nuts - they all fit the bill on this one.

Textures

Change it up. Try both soft (goat) and hard cheeses (manchego). Do the same with meats include dried sausages (chorizo) and thinly cut meats (prosciutto). Don’t forget to throw some crunchy in their with crackers, carrots, and nuts.

Interactive

It needs to be something that people want to stand around and participate in and discuss. Include dips and sauces.  Some sauces that are easy and I love to throw on there: hummus, pesto, honey, olive oil with spices, tapenade, bbq sauce, mustard, or a fresh real mayo.  Try offer different ways to combine items, cheese that goes with breads, fruits, and nuts (try mild cheeses like goat).

Substantial

This depends what the meat and cheese board is functioning as, but you want to provide items that will fill people up. The best way to do that is bread.  My go to is a sourdough from the bakery down the street. It takes plenty of meat and cheese to fill up someone, but pair with bread and they will fill up faster.  Just be sure you have enough meats, cheeses and dips to line up with bread and crackers.

Don’t Forget

All the little touches matter.  Be sure to include some olives or pickles. Don’t forget condiments, like a stone ground mustard or a raw honey.  Try a little coarse sea salt salt, fresh ground pepper, or olive oil drizzle. Throw it all together and let the magic happen.

IMG_0864.JPG

Holiday Charcuterie Touches

I find myself doing these a lot for holiday events. This is super easy to make special and feel part of the season.


Christmas:

  • Cranberry salsa

  • Candied cranberries

  • Chestnuts

  • Rosemary and cinnamon stick accents

  • Apples

  • Blood oranges

  • Pomegranates

Fall:

  • Oranges

  • Rosemary, cinnamon stick, or sage garnish

  • Winter sausage

  • Pecan, walnuts

  • Apple butter

  • Dried apple chips

  • Pumpkin Seeds

  • Mimolette - an orange hard cheese

I have a few favorite accessories. There are tons out there. You need a really big cutting board or a few small ones you can arrange together. I typically do all wood accessories like these charcuterie tools, honey stick, and wooden bowls.

Other Articles

 All the details on how to put the perfect charcuterie board or snack tray together for a crowd. Everything from ideas to how to portion everything! How to make the perfect charcuterie tray.