Beginner’s Guide: Charcuterie Boards

By far the easiest way to impress guests that are coming over for a game night or a wine tasting is showing your mastery of the charcuterie board. It’s not only quick and easy to prepare but also a fan favorite due to its “choose your own adventure” style of eating.

Charcuterie (pronounced shar-koo-tuh-ree) is a French term describing a range of cured meats and soft spreads. A charcuterie board can be used as a party appetizer or light meal at a casual gathering.

Maybe you’ve mastered the cheese plate or a chips-and-dip ensemble for game night, but are you ready to take your hosting prowess to the next level with a first-class charcuterie board?

Select Your Board
Wood and marble boards are classics found at any home goods store. When shopping around, choose a board that’s the right size to accommodate all your salamis and cheeses but also small enough to fit on your serving table along with drinks and plates. Go the extra mile and add small tags with descriptions of each item, or buy a slate cheese board on which you can write directly!

Something Presliced
It’s easy to break down a charcuterie board into meat, cheese and bread elements, but buying items by texture and taste is the best way to step up your game. Buy something presliced to bring a savory and salty taste to your board; usually this would be from the cured-meat section, including salami or prosciutto.

Something You Slice
This is where cheese comes into the equation, specifically cheddars and goudas. These add texture to your board. Note: Hard meats can also be included in this section; think hard salami or smoked sausages.

Something Spreadable
Meat pâté or goat cheese provide rich flavor and texture, adding a smooth feeling to your bites. This can also include exotic jams, tangy butters and smoky aioli if you’re feeling adventurous.

Accent Flavors
This is where the board can reflect your preferences and creative side. Accents add variety and give your guests a wider array of combinations to try. Find accents with different textures, aromas and flavors for a well-rounded board. Try fruits, mustards, pickles, crackers, breads and seasonal items.

Beverages
Last, but definitely not least, the beverages you choose to accommodate your board are important. Beer and wine are the classic pairings, but nonalcoholic fizzy drinks are a good substitute too. Whatever the drink of choice, it should complement the flavors on the board while also acting as a palate cleanser.

  • BeerThree styles of beer are the preferred pairings for charcuterie boards: saison, wild ale and porter. Each can cut through the fats of the meats for a good palate cleanser and play off other characteristics of the foods.
  • WineThe common wine pairing for a charcuterie board is a dry red, like a pinot noir. However, according to Food and Wine magazine, the acidity of Italian sparkling wines like prosecco can also be used to reset a palate.

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