When it comes to hosting a big group, charcuterie boards are the essence of entertainment and a crowd pleaser. While “charcuterie” traditionally means various cured meats, these enticing platters go beyond prosciutto and salami.
Charcuterie boards are not a new concept per se, but if you’ve been on Instagram and Pinterest lately, you’ve likely come across some pretty impressive ones.
Perhaps the best thing about this yummy appetizer is the endless variations it offers. There is quite literally something for everybody — and it requires next to zero culinary skills!
With the holiday season quickly approaching, we want to make sure your charcuterie board is the talk of the New Year.
Where to Begin
First things first, you are going to need a board — wood is usually a popular pick. Keep in mind the number of people you will be feeding. A smaller board is ideal for a two-person date night but consider investing in a larger platter for those special occasions.
Your dinner guests are also going to need cheese knives to cut through those gourmet cheeses.
Selecting Meats and Cheese
The most overwhelming part of the charcuterie board process is usually the most crucial part — picking the meats and cheese. Having variety is key to a stellar platter.
For choosing cheeses, ensure your board has different tastes and textures. Consider including each of the following categories of cheese:
- Hard – A chunk of Parmesan or aged Gouda
- Firm – Comté or Cheddar
- Semi-soft – Havarti or Muenster
- Soft – blue cheese or goat cheese
An Elixuer tip is to buy a wheel of Brie cheese and use that as the centrepiece. Check out a few delicious Brie cheese recipes here.
Next is selecting cured meats to pair with your gourmet cheese. Salami is, of course, a perennial favourite — but if you want that wow factor this holiday, here are some meats to step up your charcuterie game.
- Cured sausage – Spanish chorizo
- Whole-Muscle Cuts – Jamón Serrano
- Paté or Terrine – lamb shank
Carbs are a critical building block for, well, everything. Adding crackers and bread to your charcuterie board will act as a stacking tool to ensure guests are enjoying multiple layers. We recommend having two to four options.
The trusty Triscuit is a cost-affordable option and comes in various flavours — our favourite is garlic and onion — offering crunch and complementary flavours to your board’s main attractions.
Fruits and Garnish
Buckle up because this is where your artsy side gets to shine. Filling in the gaps with dried and fresh fruits plus colourful garnishes is the trick to achieving that Insta-worthy board. Use fruits that are in season, such as pears, clementines, and grapes.
In the holiday spirit, consider adding rosemary and pickled vegetables to introduce some colourful and savoury contrast to your masterpiece.
What to Serve Alongside
Pairing cured meats and cheese with wine is never a bad idea. The most favourable wine choice to accompany a charcuterie board is a Pinot Noir. The light-bodied red wine is high in acidity and low in tannins, making it the perfect dinner guest. Bon appetit!
Brooke Parker | Contributing Writer