Charcuterie boards seem to be the rage lately and have become a staple in our home. We make a version of them for every season, for home date nights, for evenings with friends and bring them to parties. They look like works of food art and are always a hit because who doesn’t love a smorgasbord of meats, cheeses, fruit, bread, chocolate and so many other treats.
Charcuterie is a French term for food preparation of meat products such as bacon, salami, ham, sausage and many others, primarily from pork. This culinary art was developed out of necessity as a way to preserve meat long before days of refrigeration. Today, this has evolved into so much more. If you order a charcuterie board in a restaurant, you can expect a board with meats, artisan cheeses and likely some spreads and nuts. At home, however, you can create a board with endless possibilities.
I love making these boards for so many reasons. To start, they require zero cooking.. just simply chopping and arranging. They can be prepared in advance and then left out for grazing as you visit with guests. And, most importantly, they look so pretty. Now let’s talk about how to make one of these masterpieces.
To start, you need to find a board or platter with size depending on the number of guests you are serving and whether your board is an appetizer amongst many others or the main event. I typically use a large wooden cutting board but glass platters or slate boards also work great. You may also need a few small bowls and cheese spreaders. When it comes to ingredients, buy what you like! Here are some ideas that we often use but, remember, there is no wrong way to make a charcuterie board.
Meats. Prosciutto, salami, chorizo and pepperoni are my favorites but you can also include things like ham, soppresata and capicola.
Cheese. I like to include a variety of hard and soft cheeses including cheddar, Gouda and Brie. Also consider, blue cheese, havarti, goat cheese or burrata.
Fruit. In the summer, I like to take advantage of fresh produce and use fruit like berries and grapes. Fall and winter are perfect for sliced apples or pears, pomegranate seeds, figs or dried apricots, dates or mangos.
Vegetables. In addition to fruit, I also like to add some sliced and in season vegetables. In summer, I often add cherry tomatoes, cucumbers or radishes. Carrot sticks and celery are great options for fall and winter.
Bread and crackers. I always buy fresh artisan bread to slice and add to my boards. Also consider bread sticks and gourmet crackers of different shapes, textures and flavors.
Spreads. Sweet jam spread over bread and topped with cheese is so amazing. I fill those little bowls I talked about earlier with different jams or spreads. Blueberry, raspberry and pepper relish are our favorites. Honey would also make a great addition to your board.
Other add-ons. Nuts will add some crunch.. roasted, chocolate covered, spicy or caramelized all are perfect. A small bowl of olives or pickles bring a salty element. And of course some good chocolate is always a good idea.
After gathering all of my ingredients, I wash the fruit and vegetables, slice the bread and cheeses and fill my little bowls with jams and olives.
Then, it’s the fun part.. arranging. In my opinion, the less organized your board is, the better. And again, remember, there is no wrong way of doing this so have fun with it!
Now, that you completed the fun part, you get to enjoy the best part.. eating. Bon appetit!