Whether you’re hosting a party or you just want an easy picnic-style meal with an upscale twist, a charcuterie board has variety that’s sure to satisfy. These boards make a big impact with minimal effort, but it can be overwhelming trying to pick the perfect pairings. Check out our how-to video and read on to learn more tips.
Select a board that suits how many people you’re feeding. For small groups (or an indulgent dinner for one), a cheese board set that includes a board, utensils, and possibly some small dishes for accoutrements is a great way to get started. Many sets include storage for the utensils, and you can choose from a wide variety of designs from simple circular boards to fun and funky shapes like guitars. If you’re hosting a bigger group, think about skipping straight to a large cutting board, table board, or platter for a dramatic presentation.
Be sure to have a variety of cheese knives, spreaders, and forks. Use small bowls or ramekins to hold spreads, nuts, and olives. It’s also nice to have some way to label each cheese so your guests know what they’re enjoying. We love little chalkboard cheese markers since they can be re-used.
Choose Your Meat & Cheese
The most daunting part can be picking meats and cheeses. You can select cheeses with a theme, or mix and match favorites. For a foolproof pairing, remember “what grows together goes together.” Match foods (and wine) from the same region – like Italian salami and prosciutto paired with mozzarella and parmesan, or take a Spanish twist with serrano ham, chorizo, Manchego, and Cabra Romero.
Select a mix of cured and cooked meats cut at different thicknesses for varying mouthfeel, and consider kicking it up a notch with one spicy selection. Pick cheeses that can offset the saltiness of your meats, and vary the textures to keep it interesting. You’ll want to plan on roughly three ounces of meat and two to three ounces of cheese per person for an appetizer platter and maybe a little more if you’re making it a meal.
Lay out your meats and cheeses first. Thin cut meats can be lightly rolled to make more room, or stacked to make your platter more dimensional. Have bite size pieces of some cheeses pre-cut while leaving other wedges whole with a coordinating utensil to serve.
Round It Out
While the meat and cheese are the focus of your platter, the sides can elevate it to the next level and make it truly photo-worthy. For carbs, crackers are a top pick, but don’t overlook crusty breads as a vehicle for delicious eats or crunchy breadsticks to add extra dimension. Make sure to select items that aren’t strongly flavored so you can really savor the taste of your meats, cheeses, and spreads.
Select a mix of acidic, sweet, tart, and crunchy nibbles like olives, pickled vegetables, fresh or dried fruits, and nuts to balance out salty meat and creamy cheese and add some color to your presentation. And don’t forget a few sweet and spicy spreads like pepper jelly, mustards, honey, or preserves along with serving utensils. Arrange these items to fill in empty space and make your board an eye-catching display. Now crack open a bottle of wine and enjoy the fruits (and meats and cheeses) of your labor.