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I have a question for you friend…How many times have you been on Instagram or Pinterest, and saw a charcuterie board with meat and cheese and crackers on the board, and thought, how do I make one? Today, we are breaking down the step-by-step process for making a simple charcuterie board and give you ideas on what to place on the platter! All so you can whip up an impressive and tasty spread for when you are entertaining.
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Charcuterie boards technically refer to a selection of cold-cooked meats, it’s usually inclusive of a broad supporting cast of cheeses, spreads, crackers, nuts, and produce. The best part about creating a charcuterie platter is that they are completely customizable to your unique tastes! You can make them sweet, savory, or a dash of both and adjust ingredients for dietary needs and preferences.
What Are the Elements of a Charcuterie Board?
The Charcuterie Platter
First, choose a board, tray, or platter to be your foundation. Wood and marble are popular charcuterie board material choices because they are sturdy and beautiful. The shape is simply a matter of preference, though you should take the elements of your board into account when making your selections.
Dishes create structure on the board. Use little bowls and cups to anchor the arrangement and help contain loose items like dips, nuts, and olives. Raid your kitchen cabinets for salt cellars, small candy dishes, and ramekins. What you have on hand is perfect—they don’t need to match!
The Best Cheeses for a Charcuterie Board
We recommend going to a local cheese shop for high-quality cheeses! We are based in Wisconsin, so we have an abundance to choose from. However, if that is not an option your grocery store or purchasing it online can offer a wide variety of cheeses. The best cheese for a charcuterie board includes hard cheese, soft cheese, and blue cheese. Contrasting flavors and textures diversify the board and give guests a broader range of options to sample. If you aren’t sure what to buy, ask the store for pairing recommendations.
Here are some of the cheeses we used:
Include a few varieties of thinly sliced cured meats. Lay them flat or arrange them in loose rolls so they’re easy for guests to pick up and nibble on. You can also include harder meats that guests can cut themselves, like smoked sausages and salamis. Some popular charcuterie meats include guanciale, pancetta, hard salami, prosciutto, and mortadella.
Crackers, breadsticks, breads, nuts, and even waffles are perfect for the platter. You’ll want to include a few starchy sidekicks, especially if your board includes soft, spreadable cheeses and jams. We recommend offering two types of crackers or breads with different flavor profiles.
Fruits and veggies add color and freshness to a charcuterie or meat and cheese board. They’re also a tasty contrast to rich, salty meats and cheeses. When planning which items to include, consider foods that can be eaten whole or cut into slices. Buy in-season produce for the best flavors (and to trim down your grocery bill).
How to Build a Charcuterie Board
Start by adding structure with little dishes, then place your ingredients on the board starting with the largest elements like the cheeses and meats, followed by smaller items like crackers and fresh produce. Fill small vessels with dips, spreads, and items that can be piled onto the board. Try honey, mustard, cornichons, blue cheese-stuffed olives, or a mixed selection of salted nuts.
First, place the cheeses. Arrange them evenly around the board and allow space for slicing and scooping. Next, add the meats. It’s okay if items on the board touch; they’re meant to be enjoyed together. Add sliced bread, mini waffles, or crackers among the bowls, meats, and cheeses.
Lastly, fill in any gaps on the board with fruits, vegetables, and sprigs of herbs. If you don’t have fresh items available to you, sub in dried fruits like apricots, cherries, and plums for something sweet and chewy. When your board is finished, set it out with a few cheese knives so guests can help themselves after they marvel at your masterpiece.