Make an Epic Charcuterie Board
One Christmas my dad gave me the job of assembling the charcuterie board for the family Christmas eve party. I fell in love with the process of selecting the perfect ingredients, slicing them up just so and arranging them on the board or platter. The ironic thing about it was that at the time I was a vegan.
I have since moved on from my plant based ways and have fallen even more in love with these epic cheese boards! Friends and family regularly request these epic charcuterie boards from me for parties or just simple backyard dinners.
Many people ask how I learned how to assemble these epic charcuterie boards and I don’t have a quick answer. My dad has always loved food and party planning, so he instilled that love in me growing up. The other part of it is just constantly making them and trying new combinations of ingredients.
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The good news for all of you is that I have already done the hard work and made the mistakes. My years of practice have allowed me to create this epic charcuterie guide for the rest of you. As you keep reading below you will find my tips for what to purchase and how to assemble the board.
Not only do I share what ingredients you should purchase, but also the physical items that help me create my boards. Lately my favorite is a round spinning board. I like that when I serve my tray to my guests they are able to spin it and try each item.
It is essential to have some tiny serving bowls or ramekins for items like pickles, jams, peppers, olives, nuts or spreads. Beyond those items it is always good to have some small serving spoons, toothpicks and cheese knives.
Choose a Tray or Plate
I choose my plate based on how many people I am serving. If it just for me and my girlfriend I use a dinner plate. I have listed below some of the plates and trays I like to use.
Tree Bark Server - This is the one I am using in the video below. I like this one because I prefer a round tray and because as your guests eat is a beautiful surface below is revealed.
Butcher Block Board - Butcher block is another great option because like the tree bark it is an attractive surface. I also like the square option because it is easier to create symmetry.
Pastry Marble - a marble pastry slab can be cumbersome, but makes for a surface that will keep the cheese slightly chilled as it is served if you leave it in the fridge before serving.
Wood Pizza Peel - I love this idea because then you have a built in handle to carry your cheese tray with!
Anchor Your Cheeses, Meats, and Fruit with Pinch Bowls
First thing I add to my blank board are my little pinch bowls and fill them with my pickles, peppers, olives and condiments. I love to use these basic glass pinch bowls or little ramekins. Some of the things I like to put in my bowls:
Jams and Jellies - My favorites are fig jam, raspberry jelly or a spicy pepper jelly.
Mini gherkin dill pickles
Pepperoncini or stuffed peppers - if you’re in the Philadelphia are DiBruno brothers has the best stuffed peppers.
Olives of any kind
Roasted red peppers
Honey or Truffle Honey
Choosing your Cheese
There is no exact science to this because it all depends on what you and your friends and family like to eat! If you can only pick 3 I suggest a sharp cheddar because its a crowd pleaser, a soft cheese like a triple cream brie and something harder like an aged gouda. My favorites
Sharp Cheddar - Trader Joe’s has a great one by their brand. I also just like a standard Cabbot sharp cheddar.
Mini Mozzarella Balls - I love to add these to a cheese tray for kids to enjoy.
Manchego - It is a unique flavor that most people recognize, but forget to pick.
Triple Cream Brie - with any kind of jam and green apple is a winner.
Aged Goat - If you are already doing Brie, the I suggest choosing a firmer aged goat that can be sliced
Truffled Anything - I love a truffled cheese. Nothing says “class” like showing up to a party with some truffle cheese
Gouda or Gruyere - Just because they’re both delicious
Choosing Your Meats
When it comes to meat all you need to think of is having a variety of texture and spice.
Prosciutto - My charcuterie board favorite because it looks pretty on a tray and many people love it.
Hard Salami - I like to buy this in a tube so that I can control how thick or thin to slice the rounds.
Softer Genoa Salami - I buy this one pre sliced and fold it up into little quarters on the plate
Capicola - Saltier and spicier than the other cheeses, I buy the least of this but always still include it.
Crackers and Other Dipping Devices
I rarely put my crackers on the same board as my meats and cheeses and keep them in a basket on the side with the exception of apples.
Green Apples - I always include these for a hit of acid with the decadent cheese. If I need to make my board ahead of time I toss them in a squeeze of lemon juice so they don’t brown
Cucumber Slices - A nice “cracker” option for your gluten free or low carb party goers.
A basic butter cracker
Rosemary crisp cracker
If I can leave you with one piece of cheese board advice, it would be to HAVE FUN with it. Don’t be too worried about making it perfect. At the end of the day its a plate full of cheese and meat. People will always be excited by the idea of an epic charcuterie board no matter the exact ingredients.