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  • Writer's pictureStanley Social

The Guide to a Proper Charcuterie Board

Image by Lauren Lamothe

Cheese and meat. Did you start drooling when we said that? Yeah, us too. If there’s food at one of our events, It’s the first thing we spot. Over the past couple of years, charcuterie boards have become one of the most Insta-worthy elements of the dinner table and we are here to help you perfect it.

First things first, the board in which you set the charcuterie on is the most crucial element. Wooden boards create more of a comfortable, warm feeling while marble boards create more of an elegant, sophisticated look. Now, you even have the option to choose from customizable boards; boards with monogrammed initials, carvings of special dates or places, and even in the shape of meaningful objects.

Image by Lauren Lamothe

Next, hitting the grocery store, market, or specialty store to pick up all the goodness. It’s crucial to remember that all excellent charcuterie boards include: cheese, meat, nuts, dried fruit, jam, honey, bread, and pickled vegetables. The flavors and types you choose out of these are totally up to you.

We know that choosing types of cheeses is honestly overwhelming. There are cheeses that we find every once and a while that we didn’t even know existed. To help lead you in the right direction, consider this while picking out your cheeses: one aged (Cheddar or Gouda), one firm (Parmigiano-Reggiano or Gruyére), Creamy (Brie), Crumbly (Chévre) and Blue (Gorgonzola or Stilton). These range from hard to soft and mellow to sharp. This basic template gives you some guidance while you have endless possibilities of flavors such as fruity, garlic and herb, or nutty.

Image by Lauren Lamothe

For the rich meats, we again have many options to choose from. Our meat template should consist of cured sausages, whole-muscle cuts, paté or terrine, and lard. Examples of these could be any type of pepperoni, salami-wrapped cured loin, lamb shank paté, prosciutto, and ham. Be sure to keep in mind the number of people attending your event, as you should estimate three to four slices of meat per person.

Once we move into the nuts, fruits, jam, honey, bread, and pickled vegetables, you have the more creative freedom to choose based on your personal preferences and taste buds. While purchasing fruits, be aware of the different colors, as you want to make the board come alive. All nuts should be shelled and salted to add a crunchy bite. Jams can range from sugary such as raspberry to more savory such as jalapeño. Honey is one of our favorite parts of charcuterie as it adds a sweet counterpart to the luscious meats and cheeses. Feel free to add in a bit of dijon mustard for some extra added spice. We are typically drawn to pickled vegetables such as red onions, carrots, and peppers. Black and green olives can also add another layer of salty flavor.

Image by Lauren Lamothe

The bread and cracker selection deserves a majority of the attention as well. As Oprah once said, “I love bread!” A sliced baguette is our go-to. This carb provides a basic, delicious flavor for your charcuterie creation. But, don’t forget the crostini or flaky cracker for another option. Trader Joe’s has an endless selection of crackers to choose from so you can definitely get creative here as well based on your audience and personal preference (we recommend the raisin rosemary crisps).

Finally, the most important part, the assembly. Don’t be afraid to really fill the board. It should look full and vibrant. Fold the meats neatly and cut into the cheese a bit to start it off for your guests. The jam, honey, and mustard should be left in the jars they come in. As for the pickled vegetables, nuts, and fruits, play around with fun, colorful, and patterned dishes. This adds another dimension so you aren’t viewing everything laid out on the plate. Leave the bread in it’s beautiful, the whole state as it remains fresh for a longer period of time. We live for that squishy, just-baked taste.

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