Creating a charcuterie board is not only simple but makes an impressive party appetizer! Throw one together with these 5 tips, complete with drink pairings created by our certified sommelier.
Ready to go beyond the classic cheese plate at you next party? Maybe this New Year’s Eve is the time to step things up a bit with a fabulous and stunning charcuterie board! A charcuterie board is the cured meat version of the cheese plate and I believe every party should have one! Seriously, it’s hands-down the easiest and most impressive appetizer for any get-together or cocktail party. It also can be an easy and simple light dinner when no one wants to cook to which I’m guilty of especially on weekends.
All there is to an EPIC charcuterie board is a variety of cured meats, something pickled, maybe a little pate, and a few dabs of bold flavors. The best part is that most, if not all, of these items can be bought at your local grocery store — although paté and more of the less common meats can be found at specialty markets such as Whole Foods, Central Market, Trader Joe’s or local cheese shops. Just ask your deli department to slice your favorite meats for you and all the work is done.
5 Tips For A Fabulous Charcuterie Board
1. USE A VARIETY OF CURED MEATS AND SALAMI, 3 or more selections. I like to keep the cured meats sliced very thin and the sausages and salami either sliced thin or cubed. Your deli department can slice and cube it all for you. Figure on serving 3 slices of each variety for each person.
- CURED MEATS – Try Coppa (cured pork shoulder), Jamon Serrano (Spanish ham), Prosciutto (Italian ham), Spec (smoked prosciutto), Mocetta (cured beef tenderloin), Lardo (cured pork fatback cured with herbs),
- CURED SAUSAGES/SALAMI – try Spanish Dry Chorizo, Finochietta, Rosetta de Lyon, Casalingo, Felino
2. PATÉ, TERRINES, & MOUSSE – Paté and Terrines are basically a mixture of fine to coarsely ground meat with additions like vegetables, truffles, and nuts, cooked in a baking dish to form a “block” or “mold.” Mousse is also a mixture of meat and additions such as truffles, nuts, cognac and vegetables but it’s texture is pureed and smooth. It’s not a must-have on a board but it brings a different flavor and texture. The great thing about these are that they can be made ahead of time or purchased by the slice, making it extremely affordable. Spread on water crackers or sliced bread. You can find patés at specialty stores in the cheese or deli department. Figure on one 3/4″ to 1″ slice a board.
3. SOMETHING PICKLED – Pickled vegetables are a fantastic pairing with meats and a must on a board. Have at least one selection. Try gherkins (tiny pickles), pickled red onions, pickled okra, olives, pickled carrots, pickled cauliflower, or pickled mushrooms.
4. SPREADS – Sweet and savory spreads pair great on a cracker with a slice of cured meat or paté. For sweet spreads try: Apricot or cherry preserves (cherry preserves and truffled duck liver mousse is exquisite). For savory spreads try: brown mustard, maple mustard seeds, or stone ground mustard. Serve by the spoonful on the board with a small spoon or knife available for serving. Try one selection of both sweet and savory.
5. BREAD and CRACKERS – A selection of crackers and bread such as a sliced baguette or croissants are a welcome sight to any board.
How to Serve a Charcuterie Board
Serve everything already sliced and grouped on one charcuterie board. Keep in mind that simple cheese boards and vintage bread or cutting boards work well too. If you don’t have room for the bread and crackers, serve on the side. For a creative presentation, fold, roll, or layer sliced cured meats.
Most importantly, keep it to your liking and don’t stress. Be as adventurous or as tame as you like. Like I said, let the deli do all the work for you and in a snap you’ve got an amazing appetizer perfect for any party!
Beer and Wine Pairings for a Charcuterie Board
Almost everything pairs with cured meats — that’s the great thing about serving a charcuterie board. Here are some suggestions from a certified sommelier (aka my husband):
- White wines: Pinot Blanc, Alsace Riesling, Champagne
- Red wines: Cotes-du-Rhone, Barbera, Cru Beaujolais, Syrah/Shiraz
- Beer: Saison, Farmhouse, Pale Ale, Czech or Bohemian Pilsner, Vienna Lager
- Whisky Cocktails: Boulevardier, Old Fashioned, Whisky Sour with Red Wine Syrup
Combine a Cheese and Charcuterie Board
There’s also no shame in combining a cheese board with a charcuterie board– it makes an outstanding presentation. Need help with what cheese to add to a board? Jump over to this post for suggestions, complete with pairings. Cheers!
I’m constantly creating boards durring the holidays. For further examples or suggestions, check out my Instagram feed @meredithbondsteele