If you want an automatic success at your next bash
it’s time to get ONBOARD!
Charcuterie boards are popping up everywhere and everyone is getting creative with different themes. Social Media is wild with varieties, taking you from a brunch - to vegan - to weddings, - to chocolate and everything in between. What can I say - “being board is fun!”
That is probably where I think we should start – you need a board! I have picked out a few below for reference as to the many sizes and shapes that will ultimately be determined by the size of your event. Big boards show off the abundance of mouth-watering delicacies, while smaller boards scattered can cater to different themes and pods of variety and pulls double duty by spreading your guests and increasing mingling.
Once you have chosen your desired board which doesn't have be wood - marble is a great alternative - it’s time to progress to the featured ingredients. We are building a traditional board with cheeses, fruits, nuts, jams, honey and a variety of meats including smoked salmon. There are so many occasional and seasonal themes, the sky is the limit, but the most important objective is to make your board a work of art!
Adding cheese requires some basics but it’s always good to think about some of your favorites and include varieties under categories of hard, soft, semi-soft, aged and new. This is where I venture out to a market that will let you taste a few varieties from all over the world and choose some that will wow and surprise your guests.
Triple Cream – Soft Cheese – Hudson Valley
Humblot Flog – Soft Goat Cheese – California
Aged Pecorino – Semi-soft Sheep Cheese – Italy
Aged Gouda – Hard Cheese – Netherlands
Parmesan – Hare Cheese - Italy
Presentation of the cheeses is also a consideration. Hard cheeses, like Cheddar, Gouda and Manchego you might chose to cube or slice and serving 2-3 types are a good balance. Soft cheeses like Brie, Gorgonzola, and Burrata are usually in wedges and again with a ratio of 2-3 are good choices.
Keep in mind your choices could depend on a color schemata for your party and you might want to keep coordinated. Also, the usual balance would be approximately 3oz per guest of cheese.
Cheese is the main character but requires some support from the world of breads and crackers. I love to serve the fruit infused crisps and crackers that have difference shapes and textures. I tend to go neutral in taste as your entire board is the star of the show.
Pitas / Naan
If including meats into your charcuterie, here are some varieties that are always a big hit:
Rolling the meats individually and curling salami into flower shapes add height and dimension to the presentation and it makes it easier for guests to add to their nibblies.
This is where you can have some fun! Use a variety of pickles, honeycomb, jams and jellies and my absolute favorite if Papandoro peppers stuffed with cream cheese. Dried fruits and nuts always complement cheeses with sweetness and tang. Keeping fruits within season also makes it easier to find ingredients and prepare them.
Grapes on the stem
Berries like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and my favorite is blackberries
Nuts are popular in small dishes like:
Pickles and olives go hand in hand and choose a variety. One rule is to only serve olives that are pitted. Guests never know what to do with the pit, so take the issue away altogether.
The sweetness of jam goes well on a charcuterie board. I love fig jam and raw honeycomb they look spectacular, taste great and dollop well!
Begin arranging your board – here are 5 things you will need:
1. A large cheese platter or board.
2. Small white bowls for olives, jams, nuts, and more.
3. Small serving spoons.
4. Cheese knives.
5. Small cutting board and knife to slice fruit for the board.
The assembly of the board is a strategy in progress. Begin with:
1. Cheese placement – think clockwise using texture as a rule.
2. Condiment bowls, like nuts, jams and honeycomb.
3. Arrange crackers – depending on how big your board is, crackers or breads can go on a separate tray or basket.
4. Arrange meats – salami’s can be in a flower form adding some height, other meats can be rolled like ham, prosciutto or smoked salmon.
5. Add fruit slices – either dried or fresh.
6. Start filling in the empty spots with berries or other dried fruits depending on the season
7. Keep filling until you are satisfied with the presentation
8. To end, I always strategically place some rosemary or tiny pea pods depending again on the season. A little greenery! At Christmas I use pinecones, Thanksgiving a small gourd, Mother’s Day small arrangement of lilacs etc.
9. Knives to cut cheeses - also - a reminder to ensure the cheese is served at room temperature, so putting the board together approximately an hour prior to the party is a good idea.
10. Enjoy your work of art!