How to Make a Charcuterie Board
What’s the deal with charcuterie? While people have often referred to these delicious appetizers as meat and cheese boards in the United States, the term ‘charcuterie’ has been a growing trend for several years! Charcuterie is the art of prepared meats that evolved as a means to preserve meat before the advent of modern refrigeration. Think of them as fancy Lunchables for grownups!
Why is it called charcuterie?
Charcuterie is a French term derived from the root woods of chair, ‘meat,’ and cuit, ‘cooked.’ Defined as a style of cooking that produces prepared meats, such as bacon, salami, pepperoni, and sausage, the term charcuterie has evolved in popular culture to represent a meat and cheese tray with fruits, spreads, pickled items, bread, and so much more! In summary, a charcuterie board stands for a good time!
How to make a charcuterie board
Start with your anchors - the big wedges of cheese, and small bowls of jams, olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette, nuts, whatever you want! These big pieces will give you a framework to build your charcuterie board around. Remember: to really achieve that eye-catching Pinterest-worthy look, you want color, abundance, and variety! By beginning with your larger foods and bowls, you’ll be able to space them out in a way that looks pleasing to the eye!
What do you need to make a charcuterie board?
Without a doubt, you can make a beautiful and delicious charcuterie board with what you have around the kitchen. All you need is a wooden cutting board, like our Montana bamboo cutting board, or you can use a rimmed baking sheet or serving platter. If you really want to get fancy, you can grab some of these polished granite cheese boards from Stontek!
Find Your Bowls and Containers
To hold your dips, and small foods like nuts and candy, you’ll want to gather a few small dishes. Don’t overthink this! These containers don’t need to match, in fact, your charcuterie board may look more whimsical if things are mismatched. We personally love the clean look of these Dean Crouser appetizer bowls! When I made the boards shown here, I couldn’t find any dishes small enough in my house, so I actually made little pots out of tin foil to hold the chocolate covered huckleberries and huckleberry jam!
Meats and Cheeses
Meat and cheese should be your priority when it comes to making a good charcuterie board. When choosing meats, be sure to think about different texture, taste, and how they will appear on the board. I chose to use our elk summer sausage, some smoked elk jalapeno cheddar sticks, some beef teriyaki jerky, and some thinly sliced pastrami from the local grocery store.
The general same rules apply for the cheeses in your board: you want a variety textures, from hard cheese like sharp cheddar (who doesn’t love a good cheddar?) to a soft cheese like brie, and spreadable cheese, such as goat chèvre. Not only are you getting a nice variety of flavor profiles, but you’re also diversifying the appearance of your charcuterie board!
Bread and Crackers
Now all this meat and cheese needs a vehicle to complete its journey to your taste buds! Treat yourself and your guests to a fresh baguette from your local bakery and a few types of crackers for spreading!
Add the Fruits and Veggies
To add a pop of color and to lighten up the options on your charcuterie board, add some fruit and veggies of your choice. I opted for a sliced cucumber from our home garden and some blackberries from the grocery store, and the family loved it!
The last thing to add to your charcuterie board should be some garnish. This can be a few sprigs of basil, edible flowers, or whatever herbs you have lying around. For our board, I grabbed some sprigs of sage from the garden for a pop of color.
Don’t forget the chocolate!
Now, this is optional of course, but I think its fun to have something sweet involved, so I added some hunks of wild huckleberry dark chocolate and some chocolate-covered huckleberries, both from Montana companies!
Photos and story by Zach Altman.
Updated on October 1, 2020.