Several years ago I walked into a restaurant (maybe I should say I walked into a bar because this is starting to sound like a bad joke 😉 ) and saw this word staring at me from the menu…CHARCUTERIE. Huh? What is that? The description read something along the lines of “Chef’s Choice of Meats, Cheese, Mountain Honey, Mustard, Pickle” I was still a little confused and definitely had no idea how to pronounce it…but I wanted it…so what was a girl to do? When the waiter returned I slyly asked about a few other things before saying, “well, I think I’ll start with the meat and cheese.” Ah, the charcuterie. Yeah, that. 😉
It was a life changing experience since beyond a sandwich, I really had never paired different kinds of meat and cheeses…especially not with fancy jams, fruit, nuts and all kinds of pretty things. Even better, it was presented in the most beautiful way! I was hooked. Since that first experience with a Charcuterie board, I have made many of these beautiful boards in all shapes, sizes and for all different types of occasions. It’s actually one of our go-to meals for hot summer nights when I don’t feel like cooking, and it also makes a stunning display for a party. You can really use one of these beautiful boards for just about anything. They may look fancy, but a good charcuterie board is surprisingly easy to put together and doesn’t require ANY cooking. Yep…you read that right! If you’ve ever wondered how to make a charcuterie board, look no further! Here are the easy steps to your very own fancy platter of meat and cheese.
Charcuterie actually is a French word referring to a butcher of pork products. So, it probably comes as no surprise that much of what you’ll see on a charcuterie board is pork related. These days you may see some duck pate and other delicacies, but it is usually built around salami, prosciutto and other types of yummy pork products. Mix it with pretty, seasonal fruits and some nuts, olives, crackers and bread and you are good to go! I like to add some spicy mustards and local honey and chutney too. The spicy and savory paired with the sweet is delicious!
Trader Joes and Costco are my go-to places for cheese…did you know that Trader Joe’s is the largest importer of cheese in the country? No wonder I love their cheese section so much! But more and more local grocery stores are putting together pretty cheese sections and many even have cheesemongers to help you select the perfect pairings for your boards. The rule of thumb for putting together cheeses to add to your charcuterie board is to pick 3. Each person that will be eating needs about 2-4 ounces of cheese.
Charcuterie boards are usually served more as a grazing plate before a meal, but if you are serving it as the main food at a party, up the number of ounces to 6 for each person. It’s a good idea to to with a familiar cheese that everyone loves (so probably a cheddar of some kind) but you can spice things up with a sharp or smoked cheddar to make it different. Next up get a soft cheese. A double or triple cream brie is always a good idea. It’s creamy like butter, and pairs well with honey and fruit. Finally, add in something totally new and different. Either a sheep or goat’s milk cheese is a great option.
This cheese board is more of a wintry theme, so I went with dried persimmons, pears and pomegranate seeds to warm things up a bit. Candied pecans and green olives are other fun additions.
I added pomegranate rosemary crisps from Trader Joes, pita chips, and cheese curls to the board. I also like to serve a sliced baguette along with the boards I make.
A few sprigs of rosemary to dress things up and this cute charcuterie board is ready to serve!
WHAT TO BUY FOR A CHARCUTERIE BOARD
Here’s a quick shopping list of what to put together so you can make your own board and see it easily while you are shopping:
CHEESE – (2oz per person for appetizer, 4-6oz per person for meal)
1 Familiar cheese (cheddar variety)
1 soft cheese (like a double cream brie)
1 exciting new cheese (think sheep’s milk or goat cheese variety)
MEAT (2-3 types)
FRUIT (2-3 types)
CRACKERS/BREAD (2-3 of these)
Crackers with Seeds
Raisin Rosemary Crisps (Trader Joes)
OTHER ITEMS TO CONSIDER (1-2 of these)
Putting together a cheese board, meat and cheese tray, charcuterie board…whatever you want to call it, is a super fun date night activity. Research different kinds of cheeses and then shop together for everything you need. Come home, assemble your board, put on a movie and eat your heart out. Talk about a great Valentine’s Day or other date night in! John and I even found a cheese class at a local specialty store to take together. It was a fun night trying all kinds of yummy things we otherwise wouldn’t have known about.
Here are some fun products to help you create your very own cheese board, and these all make great hostess gifts too! Click on any affiliate image for more information about the product.
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Lots of my blogging friends have put together fun ideas for winter charcuterie boards, so be sure to hop on over and check them all out.
20 Fabulous Charcuterie Boards!