how to build a charcuterie boardCharcuterie has its origins in France and the word means a pork-butcher shop.  While the original translation refers to pork, today’s charcuterie can include other types of food, such as duck, cheese, pâté, fresh or dried fruit.  Think of charcuterie as a starter course or as the centerpiece when you have your family and friends around.

There are no real rules as to what types of food to use.  It all comes down to personal taste.  But some guidelines to consider are the balance of textures and flavours as well as having a visual interest is key.  From there, it’s like lego, build sections and the rest will come together.

As a minimum, consider serving two ounces of meat per person.  The same goes for cheese.  When using meat, shape into triangles, rolled, fanned, or folded to make it easier to serve.  This creates texture.  Next, cut cheese into different shapes and sizes.  This creates visual interest.  Dried fruit such as peaches, apricots, or pears adds sweetness to contrast with salty meats.  If you decide to add smoked meat, limit to one on that board. The strong flavour of smoke can easily overwhelm more delicate flavors on the board.

When choosing a board, consider how many guests will be snacking from it.  Get creative and use whatever you have in your kitchen.  Besides wood cutting boards, consider slate tiles if you have any. The board I used above was from a woodcarver.  It’s long and easily serves six people. On the day I made this simple charcuterie, it was just for the two of us.

food ideas for the board

meats

prosciutto, salami (soppressata, chorizo, saucisson sec), pepperoni, ham (jamón serrano, capicola, speck), sausage (coppa, mortadella), terrines, pâtés

cheeses

hard cheeses like parmesan, aged gouda, cheddar, manchego, and soft cheeses like chevre, brie, and roquefort.

breads and crackers

artisan crackers, sliced baguette, Parmesan crisps

fruits and nuts

grapes, dried fruit, fresh raspberries, strawberries, pistachio, almonds, fresh figs, apple slices, assorted olives

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  Add a bit of crunch such as cornichons or your favourite pickle.  Enjoy!

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