Having guests over? Drop the bag of chips and don't you dare call the pizza shop! We're going to show you how to create a charcuterie board (aka a meat and cheese plate) that your friends won't stop raving about.
Before we get started, let's address what a charcuterie board is. Charcuterie by definition is a French word that refers to prepared meats. In modern times, a common definition of a charcueterie board is a prepared plate of meats, cheeses, crackers and garnishes.
So, now that we know what we are talking about, let's learn how to make one!
The first step to building a charcuterie board is to find a board. When it comes to choosing a board, the only real requirement is that it has a flat surface. Wooden cutting boards or butcher blocks are most commonly used and provide a rustic look that compliments most meats and cheeses. Whereas, slate serving boards and marble cheese boards can offer a more classic aesthetic.
Pro Tip: Mix and match your boards or find one that incorporate two different types of materials, such as this Marble and Wood Cheese Board.
2. Tools & Accessories
Cheese knives are must-have accessories on your board. But, the type of knives you’ll need depend on the type of cheese you’ll be displaying. For hard cheeses, invest in a hard cheese knife or a small spade – both of which will allow your guests to easily cut the hard cheeses, such as cheddar or gruyère. For soft cheeses, including brie or goat cheese, you will want to include a soft cheese knife or a narrow plane knife which can be used to spread the cheese onto crackers or other foods. A flat cheese knife can come in handy for any crumbly cheeses, such as Gorgonzola.
Additionally, you should always include a couple cheese forks. Cheese forks can hold the cheese in place while you cut and also allows you to easily pick up cheese and olives from the board.
Ramekins or small bowls are also great accessories for your charcuterie board. Not only do they hold dips, jams, olives, nuts or other companion elements, they offer contrast to your board.
Pro Tip: Another accessory to consider are cheese markers. Pin a couple in the larger blocks of cheese to add style and keep guests informed of cheeses they may not be familiar with.
The cheese is the star of your show, so make sure it shines! The best way to do that is with variety. Choose several different types, colors and textures.
Some of our favorite cheese to include are smoked gouda, aged white cheddar, triple cream brie, gorgonzola, and a goat cheese (try the Chevre Herb Goat Cheese from Trader Joes).
Pro Tip: Wondering how much cheese you’ll need? Factor 4 ounces per person.
The meats are the “meat” of any great charcuterie board. After all, the definition of charcuterie is a delicatessen specializing in dressed meat.
The key to selecting the right meat for your board is finding one that will not only compliment the flavor of the selected cheeses, but also add texture and style to your presentation.
Prosciutto is often a fan favorite because it pairs well with soft cheeses, such as brie or goat cheese. Salami is a great companion to cheddar and cantimpalo chorizo provides a smoky flavor that can add extra flavor to milder cheeses.
As far as presentation, roll or fold your thinly sliced meats and strategically place bundles of 6-8 pieces throughout your board. Slice round meats into circles and place them around your board. Be mindful of the colors, textures and tastes of surrounding elements.
5. Crackers and Breads
Crackers and/or breads are key players on your cheese board, especially if you have several softer cheeses. Find crackers and breads that will compliment your cheese selection. If you’re lacking color and/or texture, try multigrain crackers or berry crisps. If your board is looking too lively, stick with thinly sliced and toasted baguettes which provide a neutral element.
Pro Tip: Keep your board keto-friendly by swapping out crackers and bread for cheese crisps! You’ll still get the crunch without the carbs!
Fruit is a fantastic addition to any board! Grapes are commonly seen on boards because they pair very well with cheese. But, don’t be afraid to get more creative with your fruit! Small clusters of berries, such as blueberries, blackberries or raspberries, will give your board an instant pop of color. Meanwhile, sliced pears, figs or plums give a more rustic vibe.
The final step in styling your charcuterie board! Accents will help make your board look cohesive and delicious. When it comes to accents, the sky is the limit! Some of our favorite accents are olives, almonds, cashews, mustard, pepper relish, rosemary, artichoke hearts, dried fruits, asparagus and pomegranate.
Pro Tip: Use your accents to style other elements! For example, wrap stalks of asparagus with prosciutto or stuff your olives with blue cheese.
You now have the knowledge to create one amazing board! We’d love to see what you come up with! Tag @28collective when you post your photos on social media.