How To Build A Charcuterie Board is my simple guide to getting started with charcuterie. To be honest I was a little intimidated by all the gorgeous images of charcuterie boards. The more I scrolled the more amazing they got.
Then one day I finally quit clicking and made a charcuterie board. If you haven't made one before start with a smaller one. I recently made one for four people and another for five people. Both were served as the whole meal and that's how I prefer to do it.
What Is Charcuterie?
Charcuterie, pronounced SHärˈko͞odərē or shar-KOO-ta-REE, has a long interesting history. Google it if you’re curious. The modern charcuterie board I'm talking about are simply meat and cheese trays. A meat and cheese tray on steroids!
Although charcuterie all started with the meat there are gorgeous colour themed boards loaded with vegetables and dips, chocolate and candy canes and even plenty of vegan charcuterie boards too.
There’s no right or wrong way to make charcuterie.
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The Elements of a Charcuterie Board
I always like to start with a recipe as a guide. In this case I wanted categories to help me narrow down the choices and get over my fear of not choosing the right ingredients. It also gave me a reasonable grocery list to shop from.
Meat, cheese and accompaniments are the three main categories but I divided accompaniments to make sure I covered everything.
I like to print this list and circle what I want to use, check the pantry and then go shopping.
- Charcuterie – Dried or cured meats. Prosciutto, sopressata, Genoa salami, chorizo, capicola or any of your favourites. Fold or pile the pieces to add variety to the board.
- Cheese – Aim for a combination of soft and hard, mild and strong. HARD (Parmesan, Gouda, Asiago), FIRM (Manchego, Gruyere, Cheddar, Comte), SEMI-SOFT (Brie, Camembert), SOFT (Burrata, Bocconcini, Mascarpone), BLUE (Gorgonzola, Cambazola), CRUMBLY (feta, goat cheese). There’s no end to cheese.
- Pickles – French cornichon pickles, olives, marinated artichoke hearts, pickled asparagus (or beans, pearl onions and so on), baby dills, gherkins etc.
- Chutney/Sauces – Fig chutney and honey are the two popular choices.
- Fresh Fruit – Use colourful fruit like grapes, small oranges, sliced apple, pears (canned or fresh), persimmons, pomegranate arils (messy but beautiful).
- Dried Fruit – Apricots, cranberries, figs, dates or raisins.
- Nuts, plain or seasoned – Salted almonds, pistachios, cashews, pecans, walnuts or these Hot and Spicy Mixed Nuts.
- Crackers – Include different shapes and sizes from your list of favourites. I love Riceworks.
- Vegetables – A few colourful vegetables with your favourite dip can look nice but aren’t necessary.
- Extra – Some people insist on serving chocolate so add your own must haves to the list so you don’t forget them.
6 Tips To Build a Charcuterie Board
- Build your board where you’re going to serve it. It's impossible to move.
- Make sure the cheese is all at room temperature. Cut several pieces so people will dig in right away.
- Put wet or saucy ingredients in ramekins.
- Place meat and cheese around the edges of your board to keep smaller ingredients from falling off.
- Variety is key so choose 3 to 5 items from each category. You’ll be happy you did and your board will look amazing!
- Don’t skip the final garnish such as fresh herbs or cedar boughs.
6 Entertaining Ideas For Gluten Free Charcuterie
Building a board with the right group of friends should be a fun activity. Start the party with a clean counter of unopened packages and a pair of scissors. Pour the drinks and build together.
Just like building a board there’s no right or wrong way to entertain. Here are five different ideas for your How To Build A Charcuterie Board Party.
- Set clear guidelines for purchasing, including brand names and stores to help your friends shop like a celiac.
- Purchase the ingredients you consider to be risky or difficult to find. Assign what you consider reasonable for people to buy.
- The host always gets the leftovers so don’t be shy about asking for packages of things you’ll only use a small amount of. It’s your party!
- Keep a file of photos for that special someone who’s excellent at following instructions. Ask for a variety of the gluten free crackers you want or plenty of dried fruits and nuts.
- Assign wine to anyone you can’t rely on to buy safe food. One for the party and one for the host seems fair to me. (You can stock a very nice wine cellar with this one so set the standard and set it high!)
- If you’re most comfortable buying all the food then do it. No need to apologize. Come up with your standard line for your idea of a stress free party and stick with it. Figure out the best way to share the cost in advance so you can relax and enjoy.
Get The Tools
You probably have some trays, cutting boards or platters that would work just fine but sometimes you want the right thing. Here are a few items to consider.
- Simple round serving board
- Extra large bamboo board
- Mini slate cheese boards for individual servings
- Ramekins come in all shapes and sizes. One can never have too many.
If you haven’t made a charcuterie board yet I hope you’ll give it a try. Start small with just a few friends and have fun the many different combinations you have in front of you. A charcuterie board would be the perfect après ski meal and I’ll be making another one for my ski weekend in January!
If you make one let me know what you learned. Better yet, take a picture of your board and tag me wherever you are on social media.