I was just introduced to the idea of a “charcuterie” board recently when shopping on one of my favorite on-line stores for specialty meat, poultry and game products. They were having a sale on suggested ingredients and included their definition and history of the charcuterie board. It was essentially an “all meat” version of the traditional cheese board.
Since then I’ve learned that a “charcuterie” board can be a “combo” meat and cheese board. It all depends on your tastes.
This type of “appetizer” can actually be used as a dinner party considering the extent you can complete the board. So with much less effort than preparing numerous courses (and all the dishes, serving platters, etc. that are needed) you have a delicious, casual and easier “dinner” party. The variety of meats, cheeses and other accompaniments you can include in the board can please every taste and personal preference.
So let’s get started with the “how to”.
First, you want to select of variety of tastes with both the meat and cheeses. Mild, medium and bold flavors allow the guests to create a variety of combinations to suit their tastes. Some may prefer mild, softer flavors over a more bold palate. For example… a brie cheese vs a bleu cheese… a mild ham vs a spicy salami.
Some meat suggestions… pepperoni, cappicola, prosciutto, hard salami (mild & spicy), pancetta, mortadella and sopressata. The names may sound fancy/exotic but most grocery stores will have a variety of what you need. If you have a good Italian deli nearby… so much the better!
For your cheese selections… brie, bleu cheese, aged gouda, a firm Italian cheese (provolone, asiago, fontina, Pecorino Romano), soft cheese spread, Monchego… your options can go on and on.
Other ingredients to compliment and complete the “meal”…
Dried apricots, dates or figs… fresh grapes
Jams or spreads to bring some sweetness. “Quince paste” is a traditional compliment to the Manchego cheese.
Pickled vegetables such as gherkins..plain or flavored/stuffed olives, pepperoncinis,etc.
Spicy spreads and/or dips… stone ground mustard, hummus (plain or flavored), tapenade.
Crackers & crusty bread… flavored crackers or the very traditional plain “water” crackers… slices of a good French baguette.
The final touch… beverages
Wine is traditional.Reds and whites. Again, to please all your guest tastes… some sweet… some dry.
Beer is also an excellent addition… variety according to guests’ tastes… the popular “lights” and some more hearty brews. “IPAs” are very in vogue
To please all tastes… soft drinks… diet soda… bottled water.
The presentation… simply Google “charcuterie boards” and you will see a very large variety of pics to get ideas. Don’t’ get intimidated… it is easy.
Want to add some flair and style… small candles..tea lights… soft music..just in the background… nothing to overpower the conversation.
Cocktail napkins… paper from the local party store to match the occasion or your décor.
Have a delightful, simple (compared to full dinner) get-together… great food and drink..with friends and family… put together a charcuterie board!