I love cheese. And cured meat. And them together. Some nights, I’ll throw whatever cured meat I have in the fridge, a couple slices of bread, a wedge of cheese and call it dinner, it’s neither fancy or frivolous. However, it’s nice to assemble a full board when you have guests over and hosting. There are many guides to making a “proper” charcuterie board but when it comes to food, the best advice is to follow your heart. And taste buds! Put together what you like to eat and not pick a fancy cheese just because it has fancy name. If you like cheddar (I do!), put cheddar on the board. If you like Blue Cheese (I don’t!), then throw blue on that board!
Also, my approach to assembling is never a perfect. I like the messy, throw everything together, a borderline haphazard look. Organized chaos of meat and cheese piled on and over top of each other.
As for charcuterie boards go, the main idea is to have variety. Little bits of everything. So I’m sharing what I usually have on my boards to spark some inspiration. But adjust to your own taste and preference. Also, a good place for advice and recommendations is your local deli or cheese monger. Then sample your way to success!
Cured Meats: A variety of meats such as a silky prosciutto, a hard salami, and a spreadable pate are good places to start.
Cheeses: Cheese is the star of the show. Maybe because I’m cheese obsessed. Aim for a variety of textures and for a good range on the flavour spectrum (mild to sharp/aged cheeses). A good guideline for having a variety is to get one hard, semi hard, soft, and veined.
Hard Cheese – I chose Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesean)
Semi Hard – Gruyere and Applewood Smoked Cheddar
Soft – Brie and Cranberry Goat cheese
A novelty cheese, blue, or veined cheese – I don’t prefer blue cheeses so I chose a truffle infused one
The Vessel: A variety of breads, baked crostini, and crackers are good choices. You want something that can hold up to the meat and cheese
Preserves and saucy things: Adding jams and preserves lends a sweetness to contrast the saltier cheeses and meats. I put out an orange and fig marmalade, grainy mustard and a sour cherry compote. I also had jalapeño jelly which was a mix of spicy and sweet. But oh, so goodddd!
Accompaniments: Olives, fresh and dried fruit (grapes and dried apricots), nuts (I made sweet and spicy candied pecans–recipe here.)
Bottom line: have fun! Throw whatever you want to eat on the board, make sure there is a vessel to carry the meat and you are golden! Good luck and happy eating!