This is a subject that I absolutely love! Charcuterie, who doesn’t love a little meat and cheese plate!? But I know what you’re thinking charcuterie, that’s an appetizer I get at a restaurant with my cocktail. It generally contains slices of various meats, and cheeses, artisanal breads and homemade pickles. There are so many great ways to enjoy a charcuterie board, it could become the talk of your party, a simple way to spruce up a holiday dinner or an easy way to toss up the weeknight meal and relax with a good show and a sweet Oregon pinot noir! (Which is definitely my favorite!)
What I appreciate about making a charcuterie board is that you have 100% control of what goes on the board you can get as creative as you want with it! Cory and I just made one, and I’m excited to explain to you some of the guidelines to best stick to when creating your own!
How Much Meat?
Well, this is a very open question, you can assume that each person that you invite will eat about 2 ounces. Between the meat, cheese and bread it can get pretty rich. Like I said though, for a party or even dinner, where the charcuterie will be the majority of the food you can assume that each person will eat about 5 ounces.
Textures Are Key
When putting together a charcuterie board it’s important to have different textures, people don’t want to feel like they are eating the same thing over and over. So a hard salami, a creamy pate, crunchy baguettes these are all good textures that you want to work with. It’s nice to give your guests a bountiful array of options so I like to include a softer cheese, a hard salami and if possible another level of texture with a warm cooked spicy fennel sausage. It adds a level of smoke- so smoked ham, salmon or kielbasa are great choices but remember don’t over do it, usually one element of smoked meat is good for a board.
Garnishes and Condiments
This is my favorite part, here you can get creative. I love adding an element of creaminess, a little sweet and a little spicy, crunchy and with all this rich food you need a little acid to cleanse your palate. You could even do a simple salad with an olive oil and lemon dressing for a change of pace. It’s great to add a pate of sorts or rillette, I’ve also just found if you’re not a fan of those options another great one is actually an herb egg salad which gives you that creamy aspect you are looking for here. Olives and pickles are my favorite, it’s nice to have a fatty sausage with some whole grain spicy mustard and a little bit of sweet with a fresh blackberry jam, I also like to add fresh fruit to a aboard as well such as grapes or berries and I love how it brightens up the presentation. The more options you have for your guests to mix and match the better I have found. After a long night of eating and drinking that pinot noir you can take a bite of the crisp sour pickles and you’re back at it again.
Keep The Sides Simple
I like to serve with either a baguette or water crackers depending on the meats that are provided. I feel like the crackers work well with smoked salmon whereas the baguette brings in more flavor and works great with a hearty sausage and the egg salad. I love to slice my baguette drizzle some olive oil, rub them with fresh garlic and a bit of cracked black pepper and toast those up.
There are many options when it comes to cheese, I’ll mix up textures just as I do with the charcuterie. I really enjoy the medium to soft cheese that’s creamy so I’ll stick with a French cheese like a triple cream or goat cheese and then maybe something with a very different taste profile like a blue cheese, something very different.
Finish It Off
Drizzle some olive oil on top of the pates and salads with course sea salt and cracked pepper. I love to really complete the experience with a great wine, or a little bubbly my go-to is an Oregon Pinot Noir but the acidity of the champagne is great as well you could even work in a French Sauvignon Blanc of sparkling Risling as well!
Let your creativity lead you!