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Wow Your Guests with the Perfect Charcuterie Board

There’s no doubt that charcuterie boards have been having their moment in the media in recent years. They make a terrific spread for nibbling at dinner parties, cocktail hours, and book clubs. Chances are, you’ve probably thought of making a charcuterie board yourself. While the images of flashy boards with perfectly cut cheeses and salami sculptures can be enticing, the actual prospects of making a charcuterie board for your guests can be daunting for a first timer.

Luckily, we’re charcuterie board specialists and we’ve got your back. Whether you’re a veteran host looking for a new party trick, or someone just looking to get crafty with food – this guide will give you all of the tips and tricks you need to build the perfect charcuterie board.

Charcuterie Board

Ingredients For a Picture-Perfect Charcuterie Board

Charcuterie technically refers to prepared meats such as sausage, pâté, cured hams, and cold cuts. However, in recent years the definition of charcuterie board has expanded beyond a board of assorted meats to include cheese, dried fruits and nuts, jams, antipasti, crackers, and more.

Cheese

It’s time to select all the goodies for your board – starting with the cheese. By picking out your cheeses first you create a starting point for your flavors and can build pairings around them.

How much cheese do I need?

The general rule of thumb is to have 0.5-1.5 ounces of cheese per person. So, if you’re building a board for 6-8 people you want to have roughly 3-12 ounces of cheese. If the board is an appetizer before a larger meal, aim for the lower side of that range. And if the board is the whole meal, aim on the higher side. Among this, you want to have a few different kinds of cheese. Incorporate a range of textures and flavors so the board offers a variety to choose from. 

What kind of cheese should I offer on my board?

To offer a variety, we often build our boards with a crowd-pleasing firm cheese, something creamy, and either a blue cheese or an adventurous cheese.

Soft and CreamyFromage d’Affinois, Camembert, and chèvre, are dreamy and creamy spreadable options.

Semi-Soft – Semi-soft cheeses include Raclette, smoked gouda, and Humboldt Fog.

FirmPrima Donna, Comte, Manchego, and Ivy’s Cheddar are classic firm cheeses that are guaranteed to please the whole crowd. These cheeses are easy to grab and snack on right off the board.

HardParmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano, and Vintage Aged Gouda are the hardiest, crumbliest cheeses for your board.

Blue – Incorporate pungent and flavorful blues like Roquefort and Point Reyes Blue. Or go the creamy route with a scoop of Gorgonzola Dolce.

AdventurousGres de Vosges, Xavier David Epoisses, and Taleggio are adventurous cheeses that are sure to spark conversation amongst your guests.

Meat

Like the cheeses, having a variety of meats will provide variability across your board, catering to different tastes and allowing guests to do more mixing and matching with each bite. Consider salamis, dry cured meats, and pâté.

How much meat do I need?

We advise you to have 1-2 ounces of meat per person, or for sliced meats, like salami and ham, at least 2 slices per person. So, on a board for 6-8 people, offer 6-16 ounces or 12-16 slices. Again, adjust your quantities based on what other food you will be serving.

What kind of meat should I offer on my board?

Salami – Larger salamis like Smoking Goose Dodge City, Sweet Coppa, or Toscano can be thinly sliced in whatever quantity you want. Smaller, pre-packaged salami like Brooklyn Cured Bourbon and Sour Cherries can be cut at home to your desired size.

Cured Meats – Cured hams like Prosciutto di San Daniele, Serrano Jamon, or Speck can be thinly sliced and delicately displayed on your board.

Pâté – Add a creamy texture to your meat selection with Duck Mousse with Port Wine or Truffle Mousse. Introduce even more flavor with Pâté de Campagne with Black Pepper or Pâté de Campagne with Cognac.   

Extra goodness: add your favorite fruits, nuts, spreads, and antipasti

While the cheese and meat may be the stars of the show the supporting characters must not be forgotten. The best part of a charcuterie board is mixing and matching all the elements to create unique bites, and accompaniments like fruit, nuts, spreads, and antipasti add even more variety. Aside from their taste and texture, they also provide color and dimension.

How many accompaniments do I need?

This largely depends on your preference and the size of your board. But for a medium sized board (6-8 people) it is a good idea to include a couple varieties of fruit, a sweet or savory spread, and at least one antipasti option.

What kind of accompaniments should I offer on my board?

Fruit – Fresh or dried, fruit adds a sweet escape from the savory meats and cheeses. Milder fruits like pears and apples pair well with milder cheeses like cheddars. Saltier cheeses, like blues, are balanced nicely by a sweet and flavorful pairing like dried figs.

Nuts – Nuts bring crunch, salt, and flavor. Marcona almonds are a decadent option, sure to impress your guests. The Matiz Spanish Cocktail mix will elevate your board by providing both flavor and variety.

Spreads – Spreads can include sweet or savory jams, honey, mustard, hummus, tapenade, and whatever else your heart desires. When selecting your spreads, consider what would pair well with the rest of your options. Fig and apricot jams compliment many cheeses beautifully, red pepper jelly provides a spicy kick, and a drizzle of honey can sweeten any bite.

Antipasti – The brininess and acidity of olives, cornichons, and pickled/marinated vegetables contribute a tang, acidity, and brightness that you won’t find elsewhere on your board. Stuffed olives like Divina Sundried Tomato Stuffed Olives and Divina Garlic Stuffed Olives add even more layers of flavor to each bite and can be enjoyed on their own.

Crackers and breads

Your meats and cheeses can be expertly selected and beautifully placed on your board, but if you have no vehicle to eat them then there’s no point. Crackers and bread help you build the perfect bite of cheese, meat, and whatever else you choose.

How many crackers and breads should I offer?

You should serve about 4-6 ounces of crackers and bread per person.

What kind of crackers and bread should I offer on my board?

Crackers – A simple La Panzanella, flavor-packed Toasts for Cheese, or Crispbread can be all you need to get the delicious elements of your board into your mouth.

Bread – Creamy brie spread on a fresh slice of baguette topped with a dollop of jam is a charcuterie board-lover’s dream. We offer French baguettes that you can bake off at home to ensure maximum freshness.

Gluten-Free – Dietary restrictions should never keep someone from enjoying the glories of a charcuterie board. Offer up gluten-free options like Oat Thins, Top Seedz Crackers, or a gluten-free baguette.

Charcuterie Board

Channel Your Inner Artist to Assemble Your Board

Once you’ve gathered all the goodies, decide where you are going to build your board. A large paddle board offers a great space to assemble everything together. But it’s important to choose a board/tray that will fit all your elements and not have too much leftover space.

How do I assemble my board?

  1. Start by arranging your cheeses, making sure they are evenly spread out. Present soft cheeses with a knife or spreader for easy access. Cut semi-soft and firm cheeses into bite-size pieces that can be grabbed right off the board. Hard cheeses can be cut or crumbled to highlight their aged texture.
  2. Next, add your crackers and bread. Make sure they are arranged in a way that makes them easy to grab. You can also opt to display your crackers on plates or in bowls next to the board, rather than directly on it.
  3. Now you want to add all elements that are in containers or cups. Think antipasti in brine and spreads like jam and honey. Be sure to include utensils to access these additions (olive picks, spoons, honey dippers, spreaders, etc.).
  4. Next up is the meat. Thinly sliced salami can be layered into the shape of a beautiful rose or folded into quarters and positioned to mimic a flowing river. Small, pre-packaged salami can be cut to whatever thickness you desire and displayed in a pile. Thinly sliced cured meats can be delicately folded or rolled up and laid in layers. Present a slice of pâté as it comes, accompanied by a utensil for serving.
  5. Once the main components are in place it’s time to add dried and fresh fruit, nuts, cornichons, and other additions in the open spaces.  
  6. Finish off your board with fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme as a garnish and pop of color.

Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor

Now that you’ve put in the hard work to research, shop, and build your board it’s time to enjoy! Gather your guests and impress them with all of your hard work, then dig in to your delicious spread. You’re now one step closer to being a charcuterie board expert!

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