Hands down my most favorite thing to devour besides chips and queso, is a great charcuterie board. I can make a meal of it, and honestly prefer to. While in Paris it was pretty much all I ever ordered for lunch or dinner. It’s satisfying, covers all the elements of a good meal, meat, cheese, carbs and vegetables. A well curated board is also a fun way to try new things.
Since the holidays are here, this is one of my favorite things to whip up for guests. We always have these at our family gatherings and it’s the first thing I usually start filling up on before the big meal. To create the perfect charcuterie board, you just need to keep a few elements in mind. Here’s how to do it.
The Elements Of An Easy Charcuterie Board
A Variety Of Cheeses
I like to stick to three at least. Soft, hard and something in the middle. Many people like a blue cheese, but I don’t so I leave it out. My favorites are a mild soft brie, manchego (a classic) and drunken goat. Drunken goat is a little pricey so I usually just use a soft goat brie which is much more mild than your typical goat and cheaper. I personally love to get a bunch of cheeses at Trader Joe’s. They have a huge variety and the prices are quite reasonable.
Several Meat Options
Just like cheese, I like to have around three options for meat. I usually go for a salami, chorizo and prosciutto. A few other ideas are guanciale, sopresetta and maybe a pâté so there’s something that’s spreadable.
A Mix of Accoutrements
Having a good mix of accoutrements is essential to a board. It’s kind of the part that makes the board the most fun. You can be creative with adding some, or all of them to your meat and cheese to see which flavors you like best. Two types of things to keep in mind when adding accoutrements are something sweet and something salty or briney.
A few sweeter staples to always include are a great jam or preserve. I love this strawberry pepper one from Asheville or my spicy orange marmalade I grabbed while in Santa Barbara. Fig jams are a classic and go with just about everything. Adding in some local honey (include the honeycomb for a real statement) helps to round it all out.
For the briney and salty, I’m a big fan of crunchy pickled vegetables like cornichons or just giardianara (a household favorite). Just make sure they’re cut up into small pieces so people aren’t struggling to deal with them.
To really jazz up the board and fill in some space, add in a bunch of grapes, or fresh sliced figs to the spread. It’s a nice to add some freshness to the overall board and green always helps to add in some much needed color. A little bit of nuts or dried fruit is a great way to complete the whole board.
Charcuterie Board Tips
A good rule of thumb is to keep things to about 2 ounces for meats and cheese per person. I go a little overboard because I know I’ll snack on it for days after.
Cheese is also best served at room temperature, so I recommend pulling your cheeses out prior to your guests arriving.
Always use different cheese knives for your board. You don’t want the blue cheese mixing with your mild brie.
Photos by JNelly