Have you ever looked at those beautiful images of charcuterie boards on Pinterest or Instagram and wished that somehow you could put one together? But you felt so overwhelmed. How do I pick the meats? What about the cheeses? How do I make it look pretty? What about keeping costs down?
You’re in luck.
I’ve assembled an easy guide to make your perfect charcuterie board, including some options for my friends who don’t eat pork.
Don’t be intimidated. If you’ve made a meat and cheese sandwich or set out a plate of cheese and crackers, you can do this.
P.S.- It’s pronounced char-koot-air-ree. You’re welcome. 😉
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What do you put on a Charcuterie Board?
The makings of a good charcuterie board are simple: meats, cheeses, crackers, decorations, and jam. Variety is the name of the game. You want a combination of hard, soft, firm, creamy, sweet, spicy, and savoury.
However, if you don’t like blue cheese and you know no one at your party will eat it, don’t buy blue cheese. In the end, it’s your charcuterie board.
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Meat and Cheese Suggestions
In these pictures I’ve used 5 different types of meats and cheeses, but you can use as few as 3. Around Christmas and New Years, grocery stores carry pre-done packages of meats, cheeses, and crackers that are designed to work well on a charcuterie board. If you’d like to customize your own, here’s some suggestions.
Brie, goat cheese, camembert, neufchatel, mozzarella, burrata, stilton
Gouda, jarlsberg,blue cheese, gorgonzola
Manchego, grève, provolone, comte
Asiago, aged Cheddar, vaesterbotten, parmesan, aged gouda
When picking my cheeses, I like to make sure that at least one cheese is plain, and at least one other has a little surprise in it, like fruit, herbs, or heat. Your local grocery store will likely have plenty of options.
Low cost tip! Cut your average block of cheddar or mozzarella cheese into a large triangle like I’ve done on my board. It will be our little secret.
Then you have more money to spend on one of the fancier cheeses you’ve had your eye on.
chorizo, sopressata, finocchiona, summer sausage
Prosciutto, salami, lomo de cerdo, bresaola (beef option)
Typical charcuterie boards are made up almost exclusively of pork products. Here’s a few ideas to avoid pork.
- Look for turkey, chicken, or beef sausages, cook them, and slice them thinly on a diagonal. Big Franks and Vegan sausages work for the vegetarians in the crowd.
- Ask for shaved turkey or chicken slices at the deli counter. This is also an easy way to add in an extra flavour to your board, as there are often smoked and spicy varieties.
- Cook Turkey bacon and chop into fine slices. You could also use beef bacon, but I personally find it a bit too tough for a charcuterie board.
Low Cost Tip! Grab cheaper cuts of sandwich meat at the deli counter and ask for it shaved.
Putting it all together
In addition to meats and cheeses, you’ll need a board, some filler such as rosemary, mint, lettuce or kale, and decoration items like cranberries, oranges, grapes, or berries.
Start by arranging your filler around the edge of the board. Next, assemble the cheeses. these are the rocks of your arrangement.
Fill in the meats in the large spaces between cheeses. Finally, fill the remaining spaces with crackers.
Fill any remaining small spaces with oranges, cranberries, and small sprigs of rosemary.
Pro tip: if you’re going to a party, bring along the rest of the cheese and cut up meats that you didn’t use in a large container. Refill the board half-way through the party if necessary.
Jams and Extra Toppings
Wait, there’s more! Every charcuterie board can be taken to the next level with a bit of jam or chutney. This is an excellent opportunity to use your preserves that you made in the fall. I used my Maple Spice Crab Apple Butter.
You can also add pickles, nuts, dried fruits, or olives to your board for even more variety.
Finally, it’s time for the best part. . . eating!
What will you put on your charcuterie board this holiday season?
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