Charcuterie boards are trending right now, and for good reason – they’re delicious, easy to make, and oh-so Insta worthy. Whether you’re planning a wine night with your girlfriends or a weekend cookout with your neighbors, a beautiful charcuterie display is sure to please.
Don’t know where to begin? No worries! Below, we’re showing you how to create charcuterie boards that are equal parts stylish and delicious.
Charcuterie Basics: What Is a Charcuterie Board?
In France, “charcuterie” refers to the art of preparing cured meats. This can be any type of meat: beef, pork, chicken, and even duck options are available. There are also a variety of different curing methods that fall within the realm of charcuterie, including salted meats, dried meats, smoked meats, and more. Charcuterie boards are an extension of this. Essentially, they’re a stylish way to present and serve cured meats along with a variety of other fixings like cheese, fruit, nuts, olives, bread, and crackers.
But what makes charcuterie boards so popular? For starters, they’re easy to put together when you’re entertaining and in a hurry – just choose a selection of goodies to include, a fashionable serving tray to place them on, and you’re good to go. Charcuterie boards are also popular because they offer something for everyone (kind of like a buffet, but way more sophisticated). Your guests can choose to eat the foods they like and avoid the ones they don’t! Plus, most cheese boards include various tastes, from sweet to salty, savory, and beyond. When you offer a little bit of everything, your guests are free to create their own flavor experience.
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Building Your Charcuterie Display
The best part about serving a charcuterie board? You have total control, and there’s no limit to what you can include! However, if you want to keep it simple, stick to three or four food options. Start with your meats – salami, spicy chorizo, or prosciutto are all great choices. Next, choose cheese that complements the meat. If you picked spicy sausage, for example, you might want to include smooth, mild cheeses.
Once you have your meat and cheese, you can finish off the board with fruits, nuts, bread, or crackers. Olives are an excellent choice if you have milder cheeses, but if you chose something sharp, you might want to go with grilled peppers or another less salty food. Be sure to include some sweet options to contrast savory flavors, too. One good rule of thumb to keep in mind: limit smoked items (whether it’s meat or cheese) to one per board. Smoky flavors are strong, and they can easily overwhelm the rest of your board.
Looking for charcuterie board ideas that are a little more unique? There are so many “themed” combinations to try. Taco boards featuring taco meat, tortillas, onions, and guacamole are perfect for afternoon pool parties. Meanwhile, breakfast boards with eggs, french toast sticks, berries, and sausage are a great option for brunch. You can also make a simple charcuterie board for dessert by pairing berries, truffles, chocolate dip, and other small, sweet items.
It’s All About the Board
Of course, your charcuterie display is only as beautiful as the board you serve it on. That’s why it’s important to choose a stylish serving tray that matches your style and the aesthetic of the event. When you want to go glam, set up your charcuterie on a marble serving board with a chic gold agate inlay. Or, for more casual get-togethers, use a simple mango wood serving board to hold your meats, cheeses, and fruits. You can even layer your trays for an eye-catching design: A gray marble trivet would look stunning on top of a striped, wooden serving board.
Now comes the fun part – arranging your food. Again, it’s all up to you and your creativity. Our best advice is to mix things up to ensure the colors play well together. For example, try placing green grapes next to red meats and white cheeses. Avoid grouping your colors (like red tomatoes, red meats, and red grapes). If your charcuterie display is also the centerpiece of your dining table, be sure to break up your ingredients and spread them around the board so that everyone can reach them.
Lastly, you can’t forget the serving tools. Charcuterie is typically a finger food, but it’s nice to provide your guests with cheese knives and utensils they can use to pick up items and transfer them to their own plates.
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