If you want to wow your guests with amazing food the next time you have people visit, you might be thinking of making a charcuterie board – and if so, you’re probably wondering about the best possible way to do this. Let’s look at how to make the perfect charcuterie board!
The best charcuterie boards will contain a whole range of smoked and cured meats, surrounded by seasonal fruits, vegetables, spices, and herbs. Little pieces of cheese, sliced fruit, nuts, chutneys, and jellies are all suitable additions to this delectable treat, and it’s perfect for buffets and big spreads.
What Is A Charcuterie Board?
Before we can talk about how to make the perfect charcuterie board, we need to discuss what one is! Essentially, a charcuterie board is a mixture of cured and smoked meats, displayed beautifully. A board is placed beneath them for support and easy transportation.
The recent popularity of charcuterie boards has led to all sorts of experimentation, and you can pair almost any ingredients with them, but they are, in essence, like a meat-based version of a cheese board. You want a wide range of options and several accompaniments to maximize the enjoyment your guests get from the board.
You may want to look at recipes online to get some ideas for your own board, or you can just plunge in, mixing and matching whatever seems best to you. Be bold and try things out; your guests will only choose the things that appeal to them, so it doesn’t matter if not everything is a perfect match.
Try to make sure that there is enough for your guests, and make several boards if you are serving a large number of people. Charcuterie boards tend to be very popular, and you don’t want to run out!
If you want to make your board aesthetically pleasing, spread the large items out on it first, and add things like little dishes to serve olives and jams in. Once you have the fixed items in place, create groups of the different meats and cheeses, and add other ingredients around these. Clustering foods up creates blocks of color, which works well.
Basic Charcuterie Board
A basic charcuterie board must contain cured meats and usually some cheeses. You can make it far more interesting and appetizing by including other ingredients, but let’s start with the meats and cheeses.
For the best charcuterie board, you should focus on three things that matter to the people eating it: the texture, the taste, and the variety. You want tender meats, chewy meats, salty cheese, fatty cheese, pickled olives, crunchy nuts, soft fruits, and so on. The more contrast and variety you can bring to the board, the better it will be!
What meats can you include in a charcuterie board? Some great ideas include things like:
Don’t overdo it; a board doesn’t need more than three to five kinds of meats, or it can get overwhelming and very expensive. If you want to do lots of meat, try spreading them out between the boards; guests can always go to a different board if they fancy something else.
Cheeses should be very varied, and it’s a good idea to cut them into cubes or chunks before serving them, and then label these. Try things like:
Once you’ve got the basics of your charcuterie board ready, you might be wondering what other ingredients you can add. There is an enormous number of things, so we’ll write a list of suggestions. Remember, you don’t have to include all of these; pick ones that appeal to you and are within your budget!
➔ Crackers, such as multigrain, plain, oatcakes, and rice cakes
➔ Bread, pre-sliced into manageable pieces. Try to provide a selection so guests can choose which they prefer
➔ Olives, both black and green
➔ Nuts, such as pistachios, almonds, walnuts, and pecan nuts
➔ Fresh fruit, such as strawberries, grapes, sliced banana, peach slices, pineapple rings, etc.
➔ Dried fruit, e.g. apricots, raisins
➔ Peppadews or other marinated products
➔ Jellies or jams
➔ Pickles, e.g. pickled onions
➔ Raw vegetables, such as sliced carrot, celery, and cucumber
You can add almost anything else that takes your fancy to the board. If in doubt, try nibbling some with a piece of cheese or meat and see what you think. Remember, if it doesn’t appeal to them, guests do not have to eat it.
Do You Eat Charcuterie Before Or After Dinner?
Charcuterie boards are usually served before dinner, as a traditional appetizer to whet the appetite for the main meal. That means your charcuterie should be reasonably light and not contain any heavy or filling ingredients.
You can, of course, serve charcuterie at any time, but be aware that most guests will expect this sort of thing before a meal. However, if you choose to serve it at the same time as the rest of your food (e.g. a buffet), it will also be enjoyed.
In Britain, cheese tends to be served after dinner, so this is also fine. Because charcuterie is a French tradition, many people choose to serve it before dinner, but you can break with this tradition if you prefer. All that matters is that people enjoy the food and are not too full to eat it!
If you are serving it after dinner, it may be wise to let guests know in advance that there will be a cheese and meat course after the main meal, as this will let them leave room for all the deliciousness you are about to serve.
Is Charcuterie Healthy To Eat?
Charcuterie is not the healthiest meal you can serve, but it can be made reasonably healthy by paying attention to the ingredients that you include and increasing the ratio of vegetables to meat. By including salads, tomatoes, cucumber, carrot, pepper, onion, and celery, you can make it into quite a healthy meal.
Charcuterie meats and cheeses are very salty on the whole, and as people often include things like olives in brine alongside them, it is hard to make a low-sodium option. However, if you add lots of fresh foods too, people can choose what they want to take from the dish.
Charcuterie is not going to win awards for being healthy, but it does not have to be hugely fatty, salty, or unhealthy either.
How Is Charcuterie Served?
This dish is traditionally served on a flat board. If you wish to make it look pretty, choose a wooden board, a granite board, or a stone board. If you aren’t worried about the aesthetics, choose a plastic board.
It is served to be easy to eat, and most of the contents should be cut up into small portions. Usually, you will need to supply forks, tongs, spoons, and toothpicks to ensure that guests can easily pick up the things that they want without spoiling the rest of the food for other guests.
Bread will usually be sliced and may even be buttered, and everything will be “ready to eat.” Charcuterie boards are served cold, and it is rare for hot ingredients to be included in them.
Easter Charcuterie Board
Many people enjoy creating themed charcuterie boards, and if you want to try this, you’ll be interested to know that it is very easy to make an Easter charcuterie board. This can be done with the traditional foods, and will usually include vegetables and bright colors to make the board representative of the approach of spring.
So, what might you choose to include on an Easter charcuterie board?
Grapes are a very popular addition, and come in a range of greens, reds, and blacks, adding rich color to the board. Halved oranges or tangerines also look very pretty, and can be accompanied by slices of kiwi fruits, handfuls of blueberries, and some raspberries. Cheese and meat can then be added to the fruit.
Some people choose to make charcuterie boards exclusively using candies, in which case you can go crazy with graham crackers, Peeps, chocolate eggs in bright wrappers, M; Ms, and strawberry laces. These all make for excellent decorations.
Try making some chocolate nests with melted chocolate and Cornflakes, and add a few slices of fresh fruit around the edges for a break from the sugar.
Cheese Board Charcuterie
If you aren’t so keen on meats, you might want to create an exclusive cheese charcuterie, and this can be done too. Charcuterie may traditionally refer to meats, but you can do anything you like in your kitchen.
To keep a cheese board fresh and interesting, make sure you are including plenty of different kinds of crackers, some dips, and lots of fruits and vegetables to pair with the cheese. Cheese on its own, even if you include many different kinds, can get overwhelming, fatty, and greasy. Break it up with fresh foods.
Remember, variety is important, so include lots of different textures. Try the following list for inspiration.
➔ Soft cheeses, such as Mascarpone, Burrata, and cream cheese
➔ Crumbly cheeses, like goat cheese and Feta cheese
➔ Medium cheeses, including Muenster and Havarti
➔ Firm cheese, like Gruyere, cheddar, Manchego, Colby, and Comte
➔ Hard cheeses, such as Aged Gouda, Asiago, and Parmesan
➔ Blue cheeses, including Marbled Blue Jack and Dunbarton Blue
Create combinations of these, interspersed with artisan breads, crackers, and fresh fruits and vegetables, and you will have a cheese board to remember. For an even better experience, pair it with some red wine.
A cheese board should not be all about the cheese, despite the name. Diversify and spread out – because the contrast is what will make the cheese truly shine!
A breakfast charcuterie is a sure way to spoil your family members or impress any overnight guests, and it’s very easy to create. Obviously, this does not depend upon the tradition of smoked meats and cheeses, which most people would find too strong for the early morning.
Instead, create a theme and run with it. For example, you might decide to create a pancake or waffle board, with dipping bowls of maple syrup, sliced fruit and blueberries and raspberries, some cream, and some little pats of butter. Complete with a bowl of sugar and a jug of lemon juice, and you’re away.
Alternatively, you could make a breakfast board with croissants, jellies, and fruits like kiwis and grapes. Again, a bit of sliced butter and some berries would make a lovely pairing. You may wish to cut croissants in half so that they are easy to serve. Some Greek yogurt can make the meal more refreshing and goes well with the fruit.
If that doesn’t appeal, consider a board with all the traditional breakfast meats, such as sausages and bacon, paired with fried tomatoes, mushrooms, and hard-boiled eggs. Add a few slices of fried bread and perhaps a bit of avocado for a fresher taste too.
This won’t be so easy for guests to scoop up and it does need to be eaten hot, but it makes a delicious board and it will look absolutely mouth-watering.
Another option would be to make a large bowl of Greek yogurt and then spread out a selection of toppings. Granola, honey, syrup, fresh fruit, nuts, and toasted seeds make great accompaniments. You could add some breakfast cereals too if you like.
Breakfast charcuterie boards can be extremely flexible and delicious, so branch out and experiment. Just make sure guests are able to get hot food if you are serving something cooked!
Hopefully, you now have some great ideas about how to make the perfect charcuterie board. Remember, variety, taste, and texture are your guides as you build the board. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but make sure you have some safe go-to options like salami, cheddar, and ham that everyone can enjoy. Click to buy our natural, food-safe live wood boards to create the perfect charcuterie board.