Charcuterie is a French word meaning cured meats. A Charcuterie board is a simple, rustic and visual way to display many types of meats together.
We’re making a charcuterie board today with cured meats, cheese, crackers, olives, pickles, dried fruit, bread and nuts. You can choose as much or as little of these items and mix and match as you like.
The purpose of this post today is to give the basics on putting together a platter. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of combinations of meats, cheeses, and condiments you can use for your Charcuterie Platter. As with any meal, offer what you like and what you know will please your guests.
What’s the secret to a successful charcuterie platter?
- Texture is very important when you are serving a large sampling of foods. Ideally, you want to mix and match hard and soft textures. Try something hard like Salami with something soft like paté. Serve a soft small loaf of bread with hard breadsticks.
- Another key component that you don’t want to overlook is the TYPE of meat you are serving. Choose ONE smoked meat. Any more and if your guests feel like all they are eating is smoky meat, eventually it will all just taste like smoke. One smoked kielbasa would work well.
- When choosing cheese, offer a combination of aged, firm, soft, crumbly, and creamy cheeses.
- Finally, play with the presentation by rolling, folding, layering, and lying flat to give the plate more visual variety.
What meats should I offer?
Salami, Pepperoni, Ham, Olive loaf, Prosciutto or other cured meats are the most commonly seen meats on a platter. This is not the time to get supermarket meats. Hit the local butcher or specialty market and ask questions, try samples. There is a wealth of knowledge in these places.
Try mixing spicy meats with mild ones. Add an element of sweetness also. Fresh fruit, jelly or jam pairs nicely with the saltiness of the meat.
What types of cheese should I offer?
- A good rule for cheese is to try and serve 3, preferably 4 choices. Such as something hard, something soft, something goat, something cow.
- Cheese is best served at room temperature. Allow cheeses to sit at room temperature at least thirty minutes before servings.
- Provide a small knife with each cheese so that flavors don’t get comingled.
- Grapes pear very well with cheese.
What about Bread and Crackers?
Sturdy chips and crackers, toasted bread or baguette slices are all good options. You’ll want to offer at least two options from this category.
How much Should I Serve?
2 ounces of meat per person should be a good estimate. Cured meat is very rich. If this platter is the main event, you’re going to want to double that.
What else makes a good Charcuterie tray?
- Adding either fresh or dried fruit is a good choice. Try serving dried fruit in the winter and fresh local fruit in the summer.
- Nuts are always a good option and add an element of salt.
- If you have room, consider offering pickled element. Marinated olives, baby gherkin pickles are good choices.
- Whole grain mustards, jams and jellies add tons of flavor and interest to your assortment.