As we all begin to come out of hibernation and venture out into our backyards to rejoin small groups of friends, it is the ideal time to put together a Charcuterie board or a sampling of your favorite cheeses, meats and crackers. But, how do you put together the perfect spread?
What is a Charcuterie Board?
To get started, perhaps we should look at what a Chacuterie Board is. Food and Wine magazine said, “…more than a bunch of meat on a plate, charcuterie is a culinary choose-your-own-adventure story. Imagine the savory goodness that is a charcuterie board: an array of cured meats, tangy pickles, sweet jams, cheese, fresh fruit, and your own personal culinary wild cards, paired with beer or wine to complement the flavors and textures.” To put it simply, it is a collection of cheese, cured meats, crackers, bread and a few fruits. For my part, I like to add some nice dark chocolates to the mix.
How do I put it together?
Let’s look at this a little closer…
- Select your favorite “board” to build on. This can be a large cutting board, a large tray (remember those trays you have tucked in a closet?), a plate or even a bit of butcher paper on your table.
- Add your bowls and large cheese wedges. This is where you put bowls to contain your pickles, spreads, olives and cheeses you want people to cut for themselves. If you are using a tray or your table, you may want to put a small cutting board under the cheese to protect the surface.These items take up space so you want to place them first rather thna trying to “squeeze them in.”
- Now add in the bread or crackers. These take up a lot of room so putting them down now lets you build around them.
- Lay in your cured meats and pre-sliced cheeses. By outting in pre-sliced cheeses your add some different colors and keep people from taking large slices of your block cheeses. It also keeps things moving faster. For the cured meats, put in several types at different locations of the board to give it a more colorful appearance.
- Time for fruits and chocolate. Fill in the gaps with the fruit and chocolate. Everyone loves fruit and chocolate so tuck them around to fill in the gaps. I especially love bright red and green grapes.
Some other ideas…
Make some special bread to add to your presentation. But remember, to keep it simple. You want to enjoy the gathering not work as the caterer for people gathering in your backyard. You don’t have to use exotic or expensive cheeses, you can use simple good quality cheese and meats.
If you are feeling adventurous, try making a Fougasse and building around it. And while I would love to make this in my own brick, wood fired oven, I have yet to convince Dive Mom to let me have one at home or at the office. So, you can make it in your oven on a pizza stone.