Charcuterie (pronounced shar-koo-ter-ee) is the French word for cold meats. That’s right – it sounds fancier than it is. Use these 3 steps for making a charcuterie board that’s sure to impress!
A charcuterie board is a tray of meats, cheeses, and other goodies, but it’s really more than that: It’s a centerpiece around which your guests can gather and snack, slowing things down before it’s time for dinner.
A good charcuterie board is eye-catching. It’s colorful and festive, and it opens the door for interesting conversation.
So, how do you make a charcuterie board? It’s easier than you may think, but there are a couple of pitfalls you’ll want to avoid.
Here’s how to wow your guests with a charcuterie board that is sure to impress.
STEP 1: ASSEMBLE THE INGREDIENTS.
A charcuterie board generally includes a combination of meats, cheeses, fruit, nuts, and crackers or bread. There are usually several items from each category and you can pick anything you like!
The name of the game is variety and practicality.
Here are some basic Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to choosing what makes it onto the board.
- Do include a variety of flavors, colors, and textures.
- Don’t confuse your guests by including inedible components. While a charcuterie board may look like a stunning centerpiece, it is ultimately meant to be eaten.
- Do consider what snacks your guests will enjoy. There’s no rule that says your appetizer tray can’t include sweets like chocolate-covered pretzels.
- Don’t be fancy just for the sake of being fancy. Traditional charcuterie boards sometimes include pâté and rillettes, but if your friends and family prefer casual bites, or if there are kids around, maybe don’t include those.
- Do cut or fold everything down to a size that can fit on a cracker or small slice of bread.
- Don’t include anything that can’t be easily nibbled – like a whole fig, for instance.
THE USUAL SUSPECTS
Pick about 3-5 items from each category, depending on the size of your board and how many people you’re serving. Remember, these are just ideas. You can include anything that gets you excited about snacking.
Include some pre-sliced meat and some meat that you slice yourself. When it comes to larger slices of meat, fold each piece, so the entire thing could fit on a cracker.
PICK A VARIETY OF CHEESES: SOME SOFT, SOME HARD. SOME MILD, SOME SHARP. SOME IN A BLOCK, SOME IN A BOWL.
You can certainly arrange slices of cheese on the board for easy snacking. If you include blocks or wedges, make sure to put out knives or spreaders so your guests won’t have to wonder how they can get all that tasty cheese onto their plates.
JAMS, SPREADS & MARINATED GOODIES
You can think of this category as “things that go in bowls.” It’s a good idea to have a mix of savory and sweet spreads – like jam and tapenade, or honey and hummus. You might also want to include some olives of different colors.
- Blackberry preserves
- Mango habanero jam
- Fig spread
- Stone ground mustard
- Green olives
- Kalamata olives
- Marinated artichokes
- Roasted red peppers
- Small pickles
FRUIT & NUTS
Including a variety of sliced fruit and berries can help bring pops of color onto your board. You can include a mix of fresh and dried fruit, along with different kinds of nuts.
- Apple slices
- Dried apricots
- Golden raisins
CRACKERS & BREAD
Finally, all that meat and cheese needs a vehicle to ride on. Choose an array of crackers, and consider including some gluten-free options depending on your guests’ needs. Make sure that everything is approximately the same size.
- Table water crackers
- Herb-flavored crackers
- Square toast
- Baguette slices
- Pretzel thins
STEP 2: ARRANGE THE BOARD.
You can do this a number of different ways, and feel free to get creative. The trick is to establish some kind of focal points and work around those.
You can either start with the cheese, or start with the bowls. Place those throughout the board – not to be too scientific about it, but try to make them equidistant from each other for maximum symmetry.
Then, fill in the gaps with everything else.
You want the board to look like ordered chaos, so don’t put all the cheeses and one side and the meats on the other. Scatter the meat, fruit, and nuts around the cheese or bowls, placing different next to different. Mix up the colors and textures to make your board pop.
Finally, make sure you have the necessary utensils on the board. That means cheese spreaders stuck into the soft cheeses, and spoons or spreaders in the dips.
Next to the board, place small plates, cocktail napkins, and wine glasses.
STEP 3: CHOOSE A FEW WINES.
You’ll want to have at least two bottles of wine, depending on the number of people joining you. If you’re not sure what your guests prefer, serve a bottle of red and a bottle of white.
Go with popular varietals that most people enjoy drinking.
For reds, pick a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, or Syrah.
For white wines, pick a Riesling, Sauvignon blanc, Pinot Grigio, or Chardonnay.
If you want to open a third bottle, you can also opt for a sparkling wine like Cava or rosé.
IN VINO FINITO
Need some more help choosing a wine for your charcuterie board? Email us and we can help.