By: Nikkie Wong
Who doesn’t love a good charcuterie board? Whether you’re hosting a gathering for the holidays or simply craving a meat and cheese board, here is the lowdown on how to build an epic charcuterie board. There are a few basic steps.
- Pick a base. Find the right board to build your masterpiece on, such as a large wooden cutting board, marble slab, ceramic platter, or even a large rimmed sheet pan.
- Pick 3-4 dried or cured meats, about ¼-½ lb each. Choose a variety of cured/dried meats such as salami prosciutto, pepperoni, sopressata, or calabrese.
- Next are the cheeses. I like to pick 2-3 cheeses about 4 oz each. My go-to is to have one soft cheese like brie or goat, a stinky cheese like blue cheese or roquefort, and a semi-hard cheese like gouda, manchego or cheddar.
- Now for the crackers and bread. I love using herbed crackers such as rosemary or garlic thyme crackers, but you can choose any crackers you like. Adding slices of a baguette is another great addition to the board.
- Lastly the accompaniments. I like to have something briney, something sweet, dried/fresh fruits, nuts, and spreads:
- Something briney: cornichons, olives, sea salt
- Something sweet: honey, fruit jams (I absolutely LOVE fig jam, especially paired with a stinky cheese)
- Dried/fresh fruits: dried apricots and cranberries, grapes, apples, strawberries
- Nuts: marcona almonds, cashews, almonds, pistachos
- Spreads: tapanades, hummus, whipped ricotta, mustards
The possibilities are endless. It’s really up to what meat, cheese, and accompaniments you’re in the mood for. I love shopping at Whole Foods because they offer a wide variety of meats and cheeses, but another great and budget friendly option is Trader Joe’s. If you do go to Trader Joe’s, you have to try the coastal cheddar and truffled salami! If you’re in the Boston or New York Area, check out Formaggio Kitchen. The staff is super friendly and are very knowledgeable. They’ll set you up with a board that is sure to impress.
The big question is how to style your board for the instagram worthy shot. Think about how different colors and textures throughout the board can help to add contrast. Flavor groupings is another thing to consider. For example, keep the fig jam near a blue cheese or brie.
Start by placing the bigger items, such as different sizes of bowls for jams, honey, olives, conichones etc. I recently learned that creating triangles will add dimension to the photo so I like to place the bowls in a triangle shape on the board.
Next is the cheese. I like to pre-cut a few of the cheeses. If you’re using a wheel of brie, cut a few mini triangles. For a harder cheese like manchego or cheddar, you can cut a few chunks and leave the rest of it whole on the board. If you’re using a cheese like gouda, cut those into slim triangles. I like to spread the cheese out in a triangular pattern as well.
Now fold, roll, or place the meat around the board. For prosciutto, I’ll gently lay the slices on the board in a bundle and for salami (or other thin cut cured meats), I’ll fold them into quarters and layer them on top of eachother.
Finally, the crackers and bread. Take a row of crackers and gently place them on the board, letting them naturally fall like dominos.
You can fill in the smaller spots with nuts and fried/fresh fruit.
If you ever need inspiration for a charcuterie board or have a specific theme like a meditarian board or even a brunch board, I love looking at pinterest for ideas!