If you like meats and cheeses than you’re going to love today’s How to Tuesday because we’re going to talk about how to make a charcuterie board!
The word charcuterie actually refers to preparing cured meats, but like many ideas and terms it’s evolved, and when you pick up a menu at a restaurant or search on the internet you’ll find that the word charcuterie now refers to pairing cured meats and cheeses together.
There is a method to the madness when it comes to charcuterie boards however, and when you know how to put one together you can really wow your guests, or treat yourself to some amazing food.
While the meats and cheeses are the main components, there are many other types of food that you can add to your charcuterie board that will take it to next level. Below I’m going to break down each component that goes into your charcuterie board. While there are many more options that are available, this will give you a starting point:
Everyone has their favorites but variety is key. Salami and a dry cured prosciutto are always crowd pleasers. If you’re feeling fancy, grill up a medium rare steak or add prime rib to your meat selection – you can always use the prime rib in other wonderful recipes. Porchetta, sausage, and even a soft meat pate are great selections for your charcuterie board as well.
- Soft – While I typically stick to a brie, other soft cheese options include Neufchâtel or Camembert.
- Semi-soft – I will stick with a Havarti or Gouda cheese, often getting both, or perhaps two different kinds of the same type.
- Cheddar – The cheese that most are familiar with, a white cheddar goes great on any charcuterie board.
- Hard – If you love the texture of a hard cheese, you can’t go wrong with a Parmesan or Pecorino Romano.
- Stinky – Perhaps the most polarizing cheese of them all are “stinky” cheeses. If you’re like me and you love a sharp and intense cheese then you can’t go wrong with a soft blue or Gorgonzola.
NUTS & DRIED FRUITS
- Nuts – Almonds and cashews are great palette cleansers and my typical go-to’s, however walnuts or even a variety of mixed nuts pair great.
- Dried Fruits – Whether it’s apricots, cherries, cranberries or prunes, dried fruits bring a great layer of sweet to your charcuterie board that your palette will appreciate.
SPREADS & BREADS
- Spreads – In addition to using a meat pate, you’re also going to want a few other spreads for your break or crackers. I prefer a mix of salty and sweet spreads. For my particular board I used Stonewall Kitchen’s Caramelized Onion Mustard and Vidala Onion Fig Spread. Honey, olive oil, and other fun mustard’s or fruit pastes go well with a charcuterie board, and Stonewall Kitchen makes a fun variety of dips, sauces and spreads that I recommend.
- Breads – Another great palette cleanser, a nice french baguette goes great with almost everything on your charcuterie board. If you prefer a crunchy texture, pretzels, bread sticks or crostini will also pair well.
While grapes are perhaps the most common, apples are another great fruit option. Fruit pairs well with the salty cured meats and the intense cheeses like a soft blue or even a sharp Gouda.
Similar to bread, crackers are a great neutral palette cleanser that will pair will with your meats, cheese and spreads.
WINE, BEER & COCKTAILS
I’m a wine girl my self and love either a red or white – whatever mood I’m in – with my charcuterie board. If you’re a beer person or prefer a cocktail, pour yourself a glass of your favorite and sip on a nice drink while you enjoy the great board you’ve put together.
CHEESE TRAY + CHEESE KNIFE
I have quite a few cutting boards that I use to serve my charcuterie boards, but there are plenty of affordable and fun cheese boards out there! I do have a cheese knife that I use, and I love it! It’s amazing how smoothly and easily it cuts cheese, and I highly recommend getting a cheese knife. They’re very affordable and a great tool to have on hand.
Ultimately, the beauty of charcuterie boards is how versatile you can make them. There’s no rule that says you have to have all of the above options or that you can’t add other things to your board (for example, I’ve seen people add pickles to their boards). You may discover cheeses and meats that you had no idea you knew you would like, and it’s okay if you discover some that you don’t care for (for me, that was Dubliner cheese). Piece together what you like, be adventurous and have fun!
If you’ve missed and of the previous cooking tips and techniques you can visit an archive of them here, or go directly to them:
- How to Burst Cherry Tomatoes
- How to Grill Corn on the Cob
- How to Toast Walnuts
- How to Cook Bacon in the Oven
- How to Zest Lemons & Limes
- How to Cook Quinoa
- How to Roast Garlic