Charcuterie is a French word that means cooked meat. It is the combination of two words: Char and Cuite. Char refers to grilling or roasting meat and Cuite refers to cooking. Charcuterie Boards are platters of assorted meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, and olives that create a delicious appetizer for parties and gatherings.
The meats can include options like
- Salami, prosciutto, chorizo, and more.
- The cheeses can range from mild cheddar to solid blue cheese.
- Vegetables can include carrots, celery, and peppers, while the olives and fruits bring sweetness to the board.
Some charcuterie boards have crackers, nuts, or pieces of bread to compliment all the wonderful flavors on the board. At the same time, others prefer their board plain with just the meats and cheeses.
If you're looking for a fun way to entertain your friends and family, try out a charcuterie board! You'll get great reviews from everyone who tries it!
What is a Charcuterie Board?
If you've been to a restaurant recently, chances are good you've seen a charcuterie board on the menu. But, what is a charcuterie board? If this is the first time you hear about the term, or if you've only had them at restaurants, then you might not know exactly what goes into making a charcuterie board.
A charcuterie board is an assortment of cured meats and cheeses. Typically, they also include some fruits, nuts, and other accouterments with meats and cheeses.
Charcuterie boards are served as appetizers and on small plates, so don't expect to get one for your entire meal. However, if you're eating with a group of people, it's perfectly acceptable to share a charcuterie board as part of the meal.
How to pronounce Charcuterie
Sounds fancy, right?
It's French for "cooked meat." And it's one of the most popular items on restaurant menus these days. So what exactly is a charcuterie board?
- It's a selection of cured meats, pate, and other cold cuts served with bread, cheese, and other accompaniments.
- Some people call them "meat and cheese boards." But an actual charcuterie board is more than just meats and cheeses.
- It usually includes pickles, fruit, condiments, and other items.
How to make a unique Charcuterie Board
You've probably seen these beautiful charcuterie boards floating around Instagram or Pinterest – they're everywhere! These large platters of meats, cheeses, and other tasty treats look great on any table. They're perfect for parties, as well as a way to spice up your regular weeknight dinners.
To me, charcuterie boards are the epitome of effortless entertaining. They're great for gatherings that range from intimate cocktail parties to full-blown family reunions. There's no cooking involved, and you can put it together in less than 30 minutes.
Why do I love charcuterie boards so much?
- For one thing, they're low stress: You can easily mix and match ingredients based on what you like, and your guests can serve themselves.
- Secondly, they're relatively inexpensive.
Do you love a good charcuterie board? Are you looking to build one of your own? We've got tips and tricks that will help you build a beautiful, delicious, and Instagram-worthy charcuterie board. What is Charcuterie? Charcuterie is the art of preparing and assembling cured meats and other meat products, such as sausages. Charcuterie is any meat preserved by salting, smoking, or drying in its most general form.
How to arrange food on a Charcuterie Board
When you make a charcuterie board, take a few minutes to attractively arrange the cheeses and meats. This will not only look attractive when your guests arrive, but it will also ensure that they can see all of the items available.
- Try to create a balance between colors. For example, if you have a red smoked paprika spread, try placing that near some green herbs or a piece of white cheese. This will help your board look more balanced and appealing.
- Place hard cheeses on one side and softer cheeses on another side, so guests know what kind of cheese they are getting when they choose!
- Charcuterie – meats, cheeses, and other garnishes served cold or room temperature – is a great way to start the party. It works as a first course if you want to serve a meal.
- If you prefer something lighter, charcuterie can be the main attraction. It's simple to assemble, and everyone loves it. You'll need three or four kinds of meat and cheese, some fresh fruit and maybe some nuts or olives. Let your culinary imagination go hog wild the way.
Easy steps to make a Charcuterie Board
As long as you follow these easy steps, your charcuterie board will be an instant hit at your next gathering!
Step 1: Find a Board
You can find a board anywhere, or you can make your own. It can be a cutting board, platter, bowl, or even cheese plate. If you're making one of these boards to take to someone else's house, choose something easy to transport and has enough room for all of the food. You'll also need something easy to clean once you're done.
Step 2: Choose your Meats
Meat options include prosciutto, salami, and soppressata dry Italian salami) and ham, turkey breast, roast beef, and even cooked sausages. You'll need about 2 ounces of each kind per person. It is the foundation for your board, so choose wisely. Try to avoid very salty meats if possible; you don't want them to overpower the other flavors on your board. Hams make great bases for additional toppings.
Step 3: Choose your Cheeses
Cheese is the star of any charcuterie board. Therefore, it's best to offer a mix of different types, textures, and flavors.
There are hundreds of kinds of cheese to choose from, but generally speaking, you'll want a selection that offers:
- A soft cheese (such as Brie)
- A hard cheese (such as cheddar)
- A blue cheese (such as Stilton)
If you're offering an array of bread and crackers, you can consider serving just one or two cheeses. But if you're not offering bread and crackers, it's best to offer three to five different cheeses.
To keep things interesting, try offering multiple variations of the same type of cheese — for example, smoked cheddar and regular cheddar. Don't feel like you have to offer traditional varieties; instead, opt for what tastes good to you.
Cheese adds flavor, variety, and texture to your charcuterie board. To keep it simple, start with a mild flavor.
Step 4: Choose your Fruits
Fruits with a firm texture (like apples) and mild flavor (like melon) work well on charcuterie boards because they can stand up to the stronger-flavored foods like cured meat and blue cheese. However, fruit with robust flavors (like citrus) and soft flesh (like berries) do not work well on charcuterie boards because they will get lost in the mix. So instead, use a combination of fruit with a variety of flavors and textures. The goal is to make sure you have a little bit of everything: something sweet, something savory, something tangy, etc.
Step 5: Choose your Nuts
A charcuterie board is all about variety, so pick a few different kinds of nuts for your board. I like to mix savory and sweet, like walnuts, cashews, almonds, and pecans. If you want to get fancy, you could include some dried fruit on the board as well, like figs or dates.
Step 6: Choose your Crackers
Crackers are a must if you're serving cheese. They'll help balance out the richness of the cheese and meat with a nice crunchy texture. Serve your cheese with either plain crackers or ones with a bit of flavor (like parmesan or rosemary). I also love serving thin pretzel crisps on my charcuterie boards—they're perfect for spreading hummus or dips!
Step 7: Choose your Herbs
Use fresh herbs to make your charcuterie board extra special.
Herbs are a great way to add color, texture, and flavor to your charcuterie board. Not only do they look and taste great, but they can also double as an edible garnish for your cocktails and mocktails!
Our super-quick guide will tell you everything you need to know about herbs, including how to use them on your charcuterie board. We'll even share a few of our favorite herb recipes!
A Quick Guide to Herbs
- Basil: Fresh basil is a tasty herb that adds a sweet and spicy note to any dish. It's also known for its anti-inflammatory properties and is thought to protect against free radicals.
- Bay leaves are typically used in soups and stews because they can stand up to longer cooking times. They have a solid woodsy flavor that is both spicy and bitter. If eaten raw, bay leaves can be toxic, so remember not to eat them whole!
- Chives are milder than onions and taste great in dips, soups, and salads. We love adding them to sandwiches, too!
- Cilantro: Cilantro has a strong flavor that some people find beneficial for their health.
Consider other Dips or Spreads.
Along with the cheese on your board, consider having other dips or spreads—like hummus olive tapenade. They're perfect for spreading on crackers and adding to sandwiches.
Types of Charcuterie Board
There are many different types of charcuterie, but here are a few of the most popular:
- Bacon — Cured pork belly that's typically smoked
- Ham — Pork leg that's been cured and smoked
- Salami — Salted, air-dried sausage made from fermented meat (beef, pork, or veal)
- Prosciutto — Salted, air-dried ham from Italy
How to pair wine with a Charcuterie Board
If you're looking to pair wine with a charcuterie board, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, there's the type of meat used in your charcuterie board. It's important to know that different types of wine have different pairings.
- For example, suppose you have a variety of meats on your charcuterie, such as Italian prosciutto or Spanish Jamon Serrano. In that case, I'd recommend pairing it with an excellent red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir.
- On the other hand, if you're looking for something light and crisp like Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, make sure to include some lighter meats like turkey or chicken on your board.
It also depends on what other snacks/cheeses you're serving with your charcuterie. For example,
- If you're serving a cheese plate alongside some cured meats and nuts, I recommend pairing it with Champagne or sparkling wine, which goes great with creamy cheeses and salty meats.
- Also, plenty of desserts go well with charcuterie; make sure whatever type of dessert it is (cookies cake) has plenty of sweetness to balance out the meat's saltiness.
How to serve Charcuterie Board
When it comes to entertaining, a charcuterie board is a no-fail option. Not only does it look impressive, but it's easy to put together and allows for a variety of tastes, ranging from sweet to salty.
Charcuterie boards are also ideal for parties because they give your guests plenty of options and allow them to customize their plates with their favorite combinations.
- You can pair your charcuterie board with wine, beer, or cocktails. You can even create a DIY Bloody Mary Bar or Mimosa Bar so your guests can get creative with their beverages as well!
- Serve the cheese at room temperature. We recommend cutting the cheese in advance but covering it and keeping it in the refrigerator. Serve a variety of textures and flavors. The meats should be sliced thinly; they are easy to eat.
- Don't forget crackers and bread. Most charcuterie boards include bread and crackers, which nicely complement the meats and cheeses. Next, cut the fruit into easy-to-eat slices. Strawberries, grapes, apples, pears, orange slices, or kiwi are great options.
In the last I would say that French Charcuterie boards are the perfect appetizer for any occasion. They're a great way to serve a crowd, and they take little preparation time. The best part is that there is no right or wrong combination of ingredients to use when making your board.
Charcuterie boards are also a fun activity for children to participate in. You can lay out all of the components and let them create their version of the perfect charcuterie board.