Charcuterie boards have become all the rage in recent years with many restaurants offering it on their menus. When you think about it, charcuterie is a term that’s been in our vocabulary for a long time, just called something different. Like sausage and cheese plate. Right?!
When I put together a charcuterie board, or a cheese board, it’s essentially different every time. It always depends on the season, the event, and what I feel like when I shop for ingredients. Sometimes I go into the store with a plan, other times I wing it knowing I need the basics of meat and cheese.
With the holidays fast approaching, and several gatherings in our future, I will most likely end up preparing charcuterie boards. Here we show you how easy it is to prepare one for your next event.
First thing you need to consider is presentation. How will you display your items? Pieces of tile purchased at a home reno store, wooden boards, pottery or rustic platters, a cake stand or tray with handles along all become the perfect platform for your spread. Pair it with some smaller bowls or dishes and cheese knives, tools or markers. Have extra fresh herbs on hand? Pretty up your board with the addition of herbs.
The Cheese. If you go to a specialty cheese or European store to buy your cheese, the selection can be slightly overwhelming. Plan on purchasing both soft and firm cheese. Consider the type of cheese it is: cow, goat or sheep milk. Choose a couple in each category (soft and firm) including a blue, and an aged cheese. Be sure to include a popular, common cheese. Ask an employee for assistance if you are still uncertain in your selection. Remember to bring your cheese out and let sit on the counter for at least 15 minutes before serving.
The Meat. Pick 3 different types of meat. A salami (ie: sopressata), bresaola, prosciutto or sausage all sliced thin. Try to arrange the meat on your board looking a bit messy or whimsy. Roll it if you choose, layer sausage pieces, in the end it doesn’t have to be perfect. Smoked salmon or pate could also be included on your board. The meat, like cheese, should be served at room temperature.
Sweet, Salty, Crunchy. Think nuts, olives, pickles, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, peppers, tapenade, dried fruit, compotes, preserves. These items really enhance the flavour element you have created on your board, and are perfect in those smaller bowls or dishes we talked about.
Crackers & Bread. Offer a variety of breads and crackers. Thinly sliced baguette, crostini, bread sticks, and a small selection of crackers are great choices. I really like the thin water crackers and Leslie Stowe style crisps.
Fresh. Ensure you have some fresh fruits or veggies on your board. Have you ever tried apple slices with cheddar cheese or brie? Pear with blue cheese? Grapes or figs are a lovely addition to any board. We encourage you to try different fruits with the cheese you have selected for a little wow factor.
Your board doesn’t have to be jam packed with all the things. Keep it simple, do what works for you. Some boards we’ve created over the years: Greek, Mediterranean, seafood, grilled, meats and mustard’s, cheese and pickles, and even as simple as crudites. A little goes along way, just make sure you have some variety.