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What to bring to the table for the family holiday dinner? You know the main dishes and the sides are covered, but what about appetizers? Nobody wants to bring the same old cheese and cracker tray from the grocery store. Fear not, my friends, I’ve got you covered with this post. Ready to learn the art of crafting the perfect charcuterie board? You’ve seen them all over the gram, maybe even picked up a magazine that had one on the cover recently. They look fancy AF, but they really aren’t that complicated to put together. All you need is a board, some meats, cheeses, crackers, and a few other simple things to create the perfect premeal snack plate.
It’s (not) all about the base, but it is a little important
Finding the right size tray can b the trickiest part of charcuterie crafting. First, how many people are going to be there? If it’s only going to be five to six people, then you don’t need a two-foot by two-foot size tray, but if you’re talking about 15 to 20 plus folks, you might need that giant board, or even split it across two trays. Personally, I prefer a board with an edge or lip to it, that way I can make sure that nothing is going to roll off! The board in the picture above came from World Market, which is a great place to find not only board bases but all the little serving utensils you might/will need.
Cheese is going to be one of the main stars on your charcuterie board. For a mid-size crowd, I like to use four to five different cheese on my board. I always try to include one soft cheese spread, like Boursin, a garlic herb cheese spread. I also like to use this as an opportunity to try a variety of different milk cheeses. One of our favorites to include on the board is a goat milk cheddar-style cheese from Trader Joe’s. Try to include cheeses from different areas of the globe, too. A great blue cheese that crumbles well will add a little depth to your board, and a nice parmesan gives you the chance to showcase your slicing and styling skills. Don’t think you have to hit up the fancy shops either. You can find a great variety of meats and cheeses at Trader Joe’s or Aldi’s!
Go ahead and start the meat sweats early
Your second board co-star is going to be your meat selection. Try to keep the number of meats you place on your board one to two less than the number of cheeses. So if you have four kinds of cheese, go with three different types of meat. Your basic go-to’s are going to be prosciutto and salami, but you can add sliced turkey or chicken if that’s what tickles your fancy. Try different varieties of salami, or add in uncured pepperoni. Fold and roll each slice to add some style and dimension to the eye on your board.
Now’s the time to be extra
Now we’re on to the fun stuff. You’ve got your meat and cheese set out just so. But what do you eat them with? Head to the cracker section to start. Water crackers are a super popular option on my boards, typically some the first to be devoured. Try flavored varieties for an extra bit of zazzle. This is also the time to add in the spreads. I like to include a sweat sauce (honey or jam), a mustard, and recently, I’ve been adding a dip from Trader Joe’s. Add in nuts, grapes, pickles, and sliced pears and apples to make the perfect mini-sandwiches that your heart desires!
I also like to add in a bit of decoration. For fall, depending on the holiday, I’ll add in a mini gourd or these cute salt and pepper shakers styled as sugar skulls. For Christmas, I add rosemary and raspberries to give my boards a festive kick.
It’s not always just meat and cheese
Recently, charcuterie boards have been expanding beyond just meats and cheeses. Dessert charcuteries, candy charcuteries, and brunch boards have all been making appearances on social media. So don’t let the idea that crafting the perfect charcuterie board is solely about meat, cheese, and crackers. Let your imagination take over and go wild. Or at least with the confines of your board!
Whew! I’m feeling a little hungry now. Leave a comment below if you make a board for your next gathering. As always, you can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Sign up below to have the latest posts delivered straight to your inbox!