Charcuterie boards are an A R T.
The array of choice?
The variety in taste and texture?
Think of all the times you wished there was a crispy element on a plate to combat a river of smooth. Or when something sweet in nature, like a jelly, is toned back with a sharp spiciness that hits you at the end of the bite. Charcuterie boards incorporate all of these food possibilities into one concise board.
I like to think of food as having a rhythm. Once you understand what textural or taste elements are missing, you can absolutely determine what is needed to complete the final outcome.
SPICY / SWEET
Hands down, my charcuterie board of choice is never complete without red pepper jelly. Say it with me for the people in the back: RED. PEPPA. JELLY. It’s fiery, it’s tangy, and weirdly, it’s still a jelly so it still has a sweet note that is absolutely perfect for balancing out a moderate heat.
muke it for 20 secs and that stuff turns into sweet lava heaven
FRESH / DRIED
When it comes to very rich flavours, it makes a world of a difference when you suddenly taste a fresh element such as herbs or citrus. I like offering fresh fruits like jumbo cherries, blueberries, sweet blackberries, or crisp apple slices. And yeah, throw in some chewy dried fruit for a cool textural element like dried cranberries or apricots — for the inner senior in all of us.
CURED / PICKLED
The meat of the board + wild card pickles. There are so many options when it comes to cured meats but I think it’s best to have at least 1 to 3 choices, depending on your # of people. I always grew up with a smoky, garlicky kielbasa option because of my Polish heritage…so in my books? That’s a true keeper and a high recommendation. I’m a fan of chewier and thicker cuts of salami too — no thin oily pieces for me thankyouverymuch.
UNLESS, you are planning on throwing thin pieces of cured, sliced meats in the oven to make delicate, salty crisps out of them…and make extra ’cause they will be popular.
As for pickled ingredients — this is where it can get crazy. From standard cucumber pickles, to pickled beets, radishes or red onions; the options are endless. My only suggestion is that you keep the pickled item in a separate bowl because NOBODY likes soggy, pickled flavoured crackers.
Don’t be the hostess who can’t contain her pickles.
CRUNCHY / SOFT
Soft, airy focaccia. Crusty baguette. A seedy cracker. Flaky breadsticks.
Butter crackers. Soft rounds. Thin flatbread style chips. I could keep going…but I think you you get it.
SALTY & AGED / SOFT & SMOOTH
‘Say cheeeeeese!’ Depending on the number of people being served, you want to have 2 to 3 choices. A crowd favourite is a sharp cheddar, while creamy brie presents itself as a cheese with a very mellow taste and can pair with a lot of the other options on the board. Another great cheese choice would be a flavoured cheese — either herbs, wine-infused, espresso, jalapeño, anything to get the taste buds tingling.
HOT / COLD
Lastly, I think it’s important to include different elements at different temperatures. My go-to lineup when it comes to a charcuterie board is this:
A sturdy cracker. A slice of aged cheese. Topped, with a warmed fruit-jam like apricot or blueberry so that it runs off your cheese mountain like a river.