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The Perfect Charcuterie Board
Making your own charcuterie board is all about a balance of foods, using a little creativity, and incorporating delicious, seasonal ingredients.
In the spring, think light greens like grapes and kiwis and pinkish foods like prosciutto and radishes.
For summer use fresh peaches, blueberries, and strawberries.
In the fall try adding a pumpkin spread, spiced nuts, and apples.
For winter, think about using winter fruits and other seasonal items like dried cranberries, rosemary, persimmons, and other red and green items.
Themed boards can also be so much fun, like a black night one for Halloween or a red, white, and blue one for the Fourth of July.
Here are all of the items you need to make the charcuterie board of your dreams!Continue to 2 of 8 below.
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- Serving Tray: Start with a large, beautiful tray. It will be the base of your charcuterie and will showcase all of the beautiful foods, so it's important to choose something pretty.
- Cutting Board: Use a large marble cutting board or a pretty wooden one. Round, or rectangular, you can't go wrong with either! Trays can also be pretty. The handles on a tray also make it so much easier to carry. Avoid colored trays or ones with heavy patterns, as this will distract from the food on the board. Think of the serving board as your canvas for all of the delicious meats and cheeses!
- Cheese Knives: Invest in some different types of cheese knives and small serving spoons and fork. Different knives will be used for soft cheeses than for firmer cheeses.
- Forks: Forks can be used for olives and peppers and spoons can be used for jams and different kinds of honey.
- Toothpicks: You can also add different types of toothpicks for skewering larger pieces of olives and meats.
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A variety of sizes and heights of containers is essential for the different items you will be putting on your board:
- A nice tall and skinny container is perfect for thin breadsticks.
- Small low bowls and cups are perfect for jams.
- Medium-sized bowls are great for olives, peppers, and nuts.
Pick containers that will look nice together and try to avoid using colored containers. Let the ingredients bring the color! Use clear or white containers to make everything pop.
Add the containers to the board first since they are sturdy and can't be easily squeezed into places. Then place all of the other ingredients around them. Make sure to spread them out around the board and don't put them all right next to each other.Continue to 4 of 8 below.
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Spreads and Condiments
Fill the containers with the spreads and olives.
Spreads, olives, and condiments really bring the charcuterie board to the next level.
Olives and other pickled or cured vegetables, like giardiniera, taste delicious with the cured meats and provide beautiful color to the board. A pop of spice from pickled hot peppers is also a nice addition. You can find these peppers and olives in the deli section of your supermarket, usually along with the nice cheeses. Some peppers and olives even come stuffed with cheese and meats. Try a variety of colored olives and peppers for some contrast on your charcuterie board. If you pick olives with pits, make sure to provide a small container on the side for pits.
Add a little sweetness with honey, fig jams, preserves, and quince paste. They go well with sheep's milk cheeses like the Spanish Manchego and cured meats like Serrano ham.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
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Meats and Cheeses
Charcuterie is really all about the meats–that's where the name comes from! It's a French term referring to cured meats. So they really need to be the center of attention on your board.
It's great to have at least two different meats, but three to four is really more ideal. There are so many different cured meats out there:
- Prosciutto is always a favorite and looks beautiful. You can also wrap it around pieces of cantaloupe or breadsticks.
- Hard salamis look great sliced.
- Cut pepperoni into slices or chunks. Slice some meats thin and some of them thick.
- Try going to your local meat and cheese shop and exploring some cured meats you haven't tried before.
- You can also add pates.
After adding the containers, spread out the different meats onto different parts of the board so they are not right next to each other.
Then spread out the cheeses. Use a variety of cheeses from soft to hard:
- Goat cheeses
- Blue cheese
Choose whichever ones you love best. Just make sure to provide at least two options.Continue to 6 of 8 below.
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Crackers and Breads
After placing the meats on the board, place all of your crackers.
Bread and crackers are essential to the board. Choose a wide variety of cracker shapes, flavors, and textures.
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- Breadsticks provide a nice height to your board and are great for wrapping with prosciutto.
- Buttery crackers go well with cheddar cheeses.
- Rustic baguette sliced thinly and toasted are great for condiments, bruschetta, cured meats, flavored olive oils, and soft cheeses.
- Small crunchy crackers are great for dips like hummus.
- Adding crackers that have seeds can add some nice texture and color.
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Fruits and Nuts
Next add fruits and nuts.
Fruits and nuts add sweetness and crunch to your board. They are easy to squeeze in around the board and provide so much color and brightness.
Try a variety of fresh and dried fruits. Apricots are always a hit and taste great with meats and cheeses. Use fresh fruit that is in season, so that it is juicy and flavorful. Slice them or provide them whole if they are small like grapes.
Marcona almonds are a nice choice and are often served with Spanish meats and cheeses, but you can't go wrong with cashews, macadamias, or pecans.Continue to 8 of 8 below.
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Add some finishing touches by garnishing your board with herbs and any other finishing touches that you see fit.
Have fun arranging your board and don't be afraid to move things around and layer items to fill the whole board. It will be a huge hit at any party or gathering!