December 18, 2019

Charcuterie 101

If you want the easiest appetizer that will impress even the harshest critics?  This post is for you.

Charcuterie boards (pronounced shahr-ku-tuh-ree) are all the rage at the moment and are THE.EASIEST.APPETIZER.EVER.  Essentially it is simply a meat, cheese and cracker tray with a few little pops of color.  Everything is cut up or presented in a bite-size manner and your guests can pick and choose what to eat, or what crazy combinations to try together.

I don't know why I have waited so long to try them out, but better late than never.  They can get a little expensive, however, so maybe that is why...whatever the reason, they are easy, delicious and sure to please a crowd.

The best part about creating a charcuterie board, in my opinion, is that it is 100% customizable.  I made one for a party we hosted recently at our house and our guests thought I had ordered it from a store.  They couldn't believe that I made it myself.  

The beauty is that you're not really making anything.  You're simply gathering ingredients and assembling them in a beautiful way.

Notice the little hands trying to get in on the action!

The combinations are limitless, but listed below are a few of my favorites -

Salami, Ham, Turkey, Prosciutto, Summer Sausage 

Sharp White Cheddar
Merlot infused cheese (my current favorite!)
Champagne Infused Cheddar
Pepper Jack
Cheese ball (homemade or store bought)

Carrots, Sweet Peppers, Cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, gherkins

Grapes, Strawberries, Raspberries, Blueberries
or whatever is in season sliced for easy picking.

Dried fruits, yogurt covered pretzels, Brownie Brittle, Dark Chocolate, Banana Bread

Pistachios, Flavored or Toasted Almonds, Cashews

Sauces/Dips (savory or sweet):
Jelly/Jam, Nutella , Dipping Oils, Spinach Dip, Bruschetta, Hummus

Crackers, Sliced Baguette, Pretzels/Pretzel Sticks

The presentation of the board is what really takes this appetizer to the next level.  When I'm assembling mine I usually do it in this order:

1.  Bowls - I put out however many small bowls I am using and arrange them in different areas of the board.

2. Crackers/Dippers - Choose a couple of spots for groupings of crackers that won't end up sliding off the board.  I used a cutting board and it didn't have edges, so I made sure the crackers would be highly supported.

3. Fruit - Pick a fruit that is in season and that adds a pop of color and place it around the board.  Small fruits like raspberries and blueberries can be sprinkled in bare spots at the end as well.

4. Cheese - I usually try to cut the different cheese in different shapes so it's easy for guests to tell the difference in the different types.  I also have the same cheese in two different groups somewhere on the board, not just one big mound of the same type of cheese (same with all of the ingredients actually).

5.  Meat - Different shaped meats really add visual interest in your presentation.  But folding the sliced salami in the board above it gave it a wavey feel and had a big impression on the guests!  Anytime you can create curves or movement in your board - go for it!

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