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If you have been living under a rock, charcuterie boards have been becoming very popular lately. They are a very fun, sociable way to enjoy a meal — or a way too big snack. You can get as fancy as you want, there are no limits with charcuterie. Or, you can simply throw a few items on a nice cutting board and call it good, impressing your kids along the way.

Charcuterie is basically a display of cured meats. It has gained popularity in recent times and now includes meats, cheeses and accompaniments that pair well with meats and cheeses such as fruit, olives, nuts, spreads. When people think of charcuterie boards, they are essentially referring to a cheese board.

I am including two examples of charcuterie boards. One is a low effort one that my wife made the other day for just us and the kids. It was a huge hit. The kids loved the freedom to mix and match things they wanted to eat and try. To our surprise, the smoked salmon was a fan favorite of our kids and I don’t know if we would have found that out otherwise.

The other example was made by friends of mine on a recent trip to Texas. They are both food industry professionals and you can really tell the expertise and care that went into them.

There really is no bad situation for a charcuterie board, so give one a shot!

 

Equipment needed

A serving board. A rimmed board helps contain everything, but any cutting board, rimmed baking sheet or serving platter will work.

Serving utensils. You can use specialty cheese serving knives and forks or use normal salad forks and butter knives to serve.

Ramekins. Any small dishes work well for messy or moist items like jam, honey, olives, pickles, etc.

 

What to put on the board

Focus on three things: variety, taste, texture. Variety makes a great board — add items that are sweet, salty, crunchy, fatty, savory, carb-rich, pickled and brined.

Pick cheeses that have a wide variety of flavors and textures. Some good examples are cream cheese, brie, cheddar, goat cheese, mozzarella balls, gouda and havarti.

The same goes for meat. Pick a wide variety that hits different flavor profiles and textures. These include summer sausage, salami, pastrami, prosciutto, smoked salmon and any other deli type meats you enjoy.

A wide variety of crackers. My favorite is to just pick up a variety pack from the supermarket and call it good.

Finally fresh fruits, nuts and condiments. This is all up to you. Keep the condiments to something that pairs well with meats and cheeses, like spicy jellies and honey.

 

How to build a charcuterie board

Cheeses. Arrange them around the board. Pre-slice hard cheeses and cut a few wedges into the brie.

Meats. Fold them in a variety of patterns and tuck them into spaces.

Pickled items. Add items that require a dish so you can gauge your space.

Condiments and spreads. Place condiments near cheeses that pair well. Keep condiments in jars and ramekins.

Fresh fruit. Cut grapes into small portions and pre-slice apples. Rinse and pat dry berries. Arrange fruit with cheeses they pair well with.

Nuts and extras. Place pecans or walnuts and pistachios next to brie or soft cheeses. Also add chocolate squares. Arrange crackers and toasts in remaining spaces or serve them in a separate platter.

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