The Anatomy Of A Charcuterie Board
See how to put together a simple charcuterie board for your next party or family gathering. Includes ideas for presentation and food items.
Have you ever seen or heard the phrase “charcuterie board” and wondered what the heck? If your answer is yes, this post is for you. I’m breaking down exactly what it is, and how to make one.
What is the definition of charcuterie?
Charcuterie is actually the French word for delicatessen, or sometimes it’s translated as butcher shop, specifically pork butcher shop. Originally, the word charcuterie referred to the “art of preparing and assembling cured meats.” It’s definitely bigger and better than your basic cheese board. Recently, the term has also been used for an assortment of meat, cheese, fruit, and/or vegetables neatly displayed on a large board or tray. A charcuterie board can be served as an appetizer, a main course, or as part of a buffet table.
Pronouncing this word can be tricky, but after you say it a few times, it will roll right off your tongue!
Here you go: shahr-koo-ta-ree
Source: The Webstaurant Blog
The Board Itself
The board, platter, or tray on which you will build your charcuterie display can be literally anything. Definitely use what you have, if possible. I used my basic Boos cutting board which I have had for years. It measures 15 x 20 inches. Cutting boards are perfect, but so is any kind of serving tray, or a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Any shape can be used. Round or oval wood boards work great. Large vintage platters are wonderful too.
Size of Your Board
Your charcuterie board can be as big or as small as you want it to be. The size is determined by your budget, and how many people you want to serve. The charcuterie board featured in this post easily fed four people, with a good amount of leftovers. I’m sure it would have easily fed six people.
Building Your Board
Now for the fun part! In the image below, I have numbered all the elements. Just below the image, is the itemized list. It’s important to vary the colors, textures, and food types.
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- Petits Toasts
- Dried apricots
- Mini beef sticks
- Salted oven roasted pecans (click for the recipe)
- Colby jack cheese
- Green grapes
- Sliced kosher dill pickles
- Dalmatia Fig Orange Spread
- White Cheddar Cheese Its
- Sliced English cucumber
- Effie’s Oatcakes
- Marzetti’s ranch vegetable dip
- Grape tomatoes
- Havarti cheese with dill
- Sliced carrots
- Sliced beef salami
- Fresh raspberries
More Charcuterie Board Ideas
- Olives: plain or stuffed
- Sliced fresh fruit: apples, pears, oranges, melon
- Dried fruit
- Whole berries: strawberries and blueberries
- Cured meats: ham, pepperoni, prosciutto, summer sausage
- Round crackers: Ritz, Breton Cabaret, Breton Sesame
- Brie cheese wheel
- Fresh mozzarella balls
- Goat cheese
- Blue cheese
- Small gherkin pickles
- Baguette slices
- Nuts of any kind
- Jams and jellies
- Olive oil
- Pieces of chocolate
- Adding fresh herbs as a garnish is very pretty, and so easy. Basil, thyme, and parsley would be perfect.
- I bought everything for my charcuterie board at my local Kroger store. Your element choices can be as basic or as exotic as you want. Choose items that you know your guests will like, and that will display nicely.
- Take the time to make your board pretty and balanced. It was very fun to see how I could arrange everything to make it fit on the board. I lined some things up, and others were stacked or in bowls.
- You can make your board ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator. Loosely cover it with plastic wrap. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours. I made this one in the morning and served it that evening. Everything was perfect.
- I was slightly intimidated by the cheeses. My Kroger store has a huge oval cooler of a million different kinds. In the end, I just chose two basic varieties that I knew I liked. My favorite colby jack, and a creamy havarti with dill. For the havarti, I went with Boar’s Head (pre-packaged) and it was very good.
- Serve your charcuterie board with wine, or with a sparkling non-alcoholic beverage. (Or both!)
- It’s nice to give your guests plenty of choices and different flavors, but remember that the meat and cheese are rich and filling. Limit those items to two or three ounces per person.
- Update: I had a couple of questions in regards to serving utensils. If you have a bowl of dip, make sure to add a spoon. Small cheese knives are a good idea, as well as forks. You can also add a little container filled with toothpicks.
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Something like this is easy to make and really fun to serve. If you are wondering if we ate this whole thing, the answer is almost. I invited my girlfriends over after our yoga class and they loved it. We didn’t finish it, but we sure tried!