Charcuterie board is one of the most simple fancy dish you'll ever have to put together since most of the cooking is already done. It's a go-to snack at parties and a boogie appetizer at high-end restaurants. The focus is primarily on the ingredients and the serving utensils, while composition is key to elevating the spread to an almost art-like canvas. Many have tasted a number of variations of this popular platter and probably put together the ingredients a couple of times. For those who are new to the charcuterie world, perhaps this is the time to create your very first board. This article will walk you through on how to create a simple but chic charcuterie board that will surely impress you and your guests!
1. The Board
Charcuterie boards are normally served in a platter made from various materials ranging from wooden boards to slate boards. For a chic look, select boards with high contrasting colors against the ingredients like white marble boards or black slate boards. This will give dimension to the ingredients while creating a clean sharp contrast for that chic look. Some boards may have accents like copper handles or two tone surface which can be an interesting touch if paired with same theme cutting utensils.
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2. The Utensils
To properly enjoy charcuterie you'll need utensils that are suited for the poking and cutting action. Keep it simple and stick to color schemes that are either matching your board accents and doesn't detract the attention away from your edible offers. For meat slices, you will need any kind of forks. We like to go for mini forks since they are cute and compact but if you do get a cheese knife set you can also leverage the pointed knife for this purpose. Speaking of the cheese knife set, it's a good idea to grab those as they normally include all kinds of knives that can accommodate cheeses from hard to soft and rid you of the hassle of sourcing specific knives. They will also have matching designs which will provide consistency for your chic board.
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3. The Meat
This is where you can get creative and it really depends on what you like. Variety is the key so that you can switch up the color palette on the board. For a starter, I like to include at least 2 variety of cold cuts to fill up the space. For thinly slice meats that is easier to shape like prosciutto or jambon iberico, swirl it around to shape it like a rose for an interesting look. Otherwise, neatly line up the cure meats for an organized and chic aesthetic.
Recommendations for cold cuts combo:
4. The Cheese
There are several ways to approach cheese when it comes to charcuterie board. Select a couple with varying texture and flavor profile. It can get overwhelming with the countless variety out there, but if you don't have any particular favorites yet then I recommend trying out some popular ones like the French creamy brie, the Italian burrata, or domestic cheddar. For the hard cheese, you can slice in large chunks for statement pieces on the board or dice into small cubes and sprinkle them around your cured meats. If you have a black board, the white tone of the cheese will contrast well so you can sparingly decorate any empty spaces and accentuate with your artistic touch. For soft cheese or cheese that will ooze out once you cut it, keep it whole for the presentation and I recommend that you serve it on another layer of plate to maintain the board presentation even when you or your guests dig into the cheese. Choose a serving plate that is different in texture or color than your board for an elevated contrasting touch.
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5. The Nuts & Seeds
Go nuts when it comes to nuts in a Chic Charcuterie board! Why stick to just a single kind of nuts or just nuts when you have so many to choose from in the edible seeds category with varying colors and shapes. Marcona almonds are a classic on a charcuterie board but you can switch it up with colorful ones like pistachio, brazilian nuts, macadamia, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. A variety of colors will contrast well with the board, the cheese, and the meats. Position your cheese and meats first then start filling in the empty gaps with the nuts and seeds.
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6. The Jams & Crackers
Rounding out the core components of a Chic Charcuterie board, uplift the overall flavors with a touch of sweet or tart jams, or other strong flavor condiments. Choose jams with deep rich taste as it helps tame the saltiness of the cure meats. Fig base jams have mellow sweet notes but still impactful flavor that works well with prosciutto or any pork derived cured meats. Honey and balsamic glaze are also great as condiments to mix and match with your cheeses while creating an interesting selection for you and your guest. Present your jams and condiments in small containers and spread them out on your board.
For the crackers, this is where simple is best. Keep it plain with flat bread crackers that doesn't have too much seasoning and allow your meats and cheese to shine. As most components within the board will have irregular shape or is circular, square shape or rectangular shape crackers presented in a neat row will complimentary the overall composition of your board.
Recommendations for jams & crackers:
7. The Garnish
Seasonal herbs and vegetables are a fun way to polish your Chic Charcuterie board. Take the baby shoots or leaves of your favorite herbs and accentuate where a pop of green is not present. Baby tomatoes with the vines on provides a interesting clustered abstract look while sugar snap peas split in half brightens up the board with the fresh green pods. Use either small or thin vegetables to not overwhelm the composition of the board.
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After all of these steps, you will be a painter of your own charcuterie canvas ready to impress your guest with your very own Chic Charctuerie board. Would love to see how yours turn out and please feel free to share a photo with us!
Two home cooks creating and tasting dishes from our lovely city of Chicago. Follow our world wide adventure as we discover ingredients, dishes, recipes, and the foodie way of life.
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