We have all encountered a charcuterie board at some point in our lives. Whether it was a hummus and pita platter, or bread, olives, and dried fruit, we have eaten some form of shareable platter. So how exactly do you make a charcuterie? Well, it depends on what kind of theme you are going for. Traditional? Mediterranean? Brunch? In this post, I am going to give you a break down on how to make the perfect charcuterie board that will have your friends raving for more!
Board and Knife Set
The first thing you need is a board and cutlery to slice and spread your cheeses and jams. I got super lucky and found my wooden cheese board for $5 and my knife set for $3 at Target many years ago in the bullseye’s playground (aka the dollar section). Since target no longer carries this board set, you can find plenty of other sets at your local Target or on Amazon. Most charcuterie boards are served on a wooden board, but you can definitely use a marble or chalk board.
A traditional European style charcuterie board has about 2-4 cheeses that are soft (brie), tart (bleu or gorgonzola), sweet (fruit infused), smoked (smoked gouda), creamy (goat), or hard (manchego). You ultimately want to offer diversity in the cheese textures and flavors to your charcuterie board that will complement the flavors of your spreads and protein. In the board pictured, I used a cheddar cheese with dried apricots, gouda, gorgonzola, and bleu cheese. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you can always skip the cheese or substitute with a vegan cheese.
Prp- Tip: When serving brie, serve a slice of it room temperature or warm. A smaller portion will have your friends wanting more, and well another reason to host a charcuterie party! Who doesn’t want to be a Charcuterie Queen?
Eating bread and crackers will only keep you full for so long, so I like to add a little protein to my charcuterie board. Since I do not eat pork, I use bresaola (cured beef), Soujuk (Turkish beef sausage), thinly sliced chicken breast, smoked salmon, variety of mixed nuts, or hummus. As for nuts, you use sweet toffee nuts, cocoa covered almonds, or anything roasted. In the board pictured, I used bresaola which I found at a specialty charcuterie meat store called The Spotted Trotter. I will say that bresaola was very hard for me to find at my local grocery store since it is considered a specialty item and not many grocers are familiar with what the product is. I had to call multiple specialty stores, meat markets, and Whole Food’s to check the availability.
A nice jam, honey, whipped butter, chocolate spread, or hummus makes the perfect spread pairing with a charcuterie board. I prefer to use honey over a strong and tart cheese like blue cheese or gorgonzola. For a sweet jam, I love to use Trader Joe’s fig butter, it’s so delicious and pairs lovely with almost every cheese!
Bread or Crackers
A warm loaf of bread, bagels, pita, or water crisp, whole wheat, and rosemary crackers, these all make a great pairing for your charcuterie. I prefer to have a combination of both crackers and bread. The textures of the two carbs complement the pairings differently and are good palate cleansers.
I love using a great fresh seasonal fruit for my charcuterie, whether it is cotton candy grapes, berries, or peaches, these are all a great addition to your board. I also like to add dried fruit such as apricots or figs to my board to offer a different type of sweetness that fresh fruit does not offer.
When sniffing perfume scents, you are supposed to sniff coffee beans in between to avoid confusing scents. The same rule applies to charcuterie boards, except you eat some form of palate cleanser. Some combinations of flavors do not sit well with others, therefore you need a palate cleanser in your board. In a traditional charcuterie board, a cracker is a good palate cleanser. If you are making a board with smoked salmon, then cucumbers are a nice palate cleanser. For mediterranean style charcuterie boards, try pairing sliced radishes, mint, and basil leaves.
Whether it is marinated olives, pickles, roasted red peppers, roasted eggplant, or capers, a tart add-on to your charcuterie board really diversifies the flavors of the platter. If you have tart cheese, then you can skip on a tart add-on. However, if you are missing a tart cheese, then try to incorporate something with a little tartness, the flavors help amplify the flavors of your meats.
Honestly, any wine is a great pairing for a charcuterie board. A chilled white wine, prosecco, or rosé pair well with lighter meats and are perfect for a day time soiree. A medium-full bodied red wine is great for pairing with darker meats and relaxing evenings. A sweet red or white wine is great for pairing, especially if you are missing fruit or if you want to supplement as a dessert.
I hope these steps have been helpful and inspire you to make your own charcuterie board for any occasion. Have questions? Drop them in the comments below! I am happy to answer any questions or offer any suggestions!