Making a charcuterie board

There are a few man-made sights in this world that are hard to beat. One of those is a crafted charcuterie board. It doesn’t matter whether it’s neat and simple, rustic and hodgepodge, or messy and thrown together, it’s a beautiful sight. It’s probably because a charcuterie board signifies my favorite way to eat food—slowly, in a group, sharing bites (and usually with wine).  I know I’m not the first to profess what is important in a charcuterie plate, but these are a few simple things I like to consider when I’m making one:

  1. Don’t make it look so perfect that people are scared they’ll mess it up if they reach for anything.
  2. Try to think about introducing different colors and textures to the plate.
  3. Think about your audience—if no one likes olives, you don’t need them to complete your board. Maybe pickled veggies would be better, or even the fruit/berry route if that will go over better.

one \\ rosemary and sea salt crackers

Pick your favorite kind of cracker, and maybe offer a second option too. I usually wouldn't use a flavored cracker, but these rosemary ones are so good.

two \\ brie

I always get a larger amount of brie, because people tend to use a lot of it with each bite, and it’s a favorite to many. I usually serve it with baguette.

three \\ gorgonzola

I like this more than most bleu cheese—it tends to be a little bit milder. Regardless, this is the smallest portion I buy, just because it’s a much more controversial flavor than your cheddars and your bries, and a little goes a long way.

four \\ smoked pepperoni

I thought this offered great color and provided a nice contrast to the thin and wispy pancetta.

five \\ pancetta

I absolutely love the shiny, marbly look of this stuff, and it’s my favorite cured meat. It’s so salty, with great flavor, a little like bacon. I had mine sliced really really thin—a little goes a long way—and it’s a money saver, as well.

six \\ manchego

This is just a nice option for a sharper/harder cheese.

seven \\ cornichons

These cutest mini pickles add great crunch and people love them.

eight \\ aged cheddar

My all time favorite, as simple as it is. Cheddar will almost always get eaten up first, so slice thin and buy more than you think you need (you can always replenish if it starts to run low).

nine \\ Greek olives

Olives just add dimension to any cheese or meat board—and a few of them go a long way.

I really like the more rustic and earthy look of a wood surface, although ceramic, slate, or marble would all look nice too. The gold cheese knives were a recent purchase from West Elm that I’d had my eye on for a while. I love the gold flatware trend that we’re seeing all over, but I’m in no position to buy enough to set a table (especially with the knowledge that they are very much just that—a trend). I thought a set of gold cheese knives for $29 ($25 after a coupon) was a good compromise. 

I like that this board is hearty enough that if it's all you wanted to serve, you could get away with it. But it's also the easiest appetizer to put together because it can be constructed ahead of time and kept in the fridge; whatever suits you (and your friends) best!

gold cheese knives