The best aspect of Charcuterie boards is the flexibility they afford: Scale portions up or down depending on the number of guests, adjust ingredients for dietary needs and preferences, or include foods within a specific color palette or from a specific geographical region.
To get started, here’s a step-by-step guide [summarized from Better Homes & Gardens] on how to make a simple meat and cheese board from start to finish.
Elements of a Charcuterie Board
First, choose a board, tray, or platter to be your foundation. Wood and marble are popular Charcuterie board material choices because they are sturdy and beautiful. The shape is simply a matter of preference, though you should take the elements of your board into account when making your selections. For example, a rectangular board may better accommodate long, leafy vegetable stems or cheese wedges than a square-shape one. Better Homes & Gardens designed this rectangular 20-by-12-inch board (pictured below) to feed about 10 people.
Bear in mind: The larger the board, the more money you’ll spend to fill it up. If you want to keep your budget in check, fill out large boards with more produce, or opt for a smaller board or platter. Rule of thumb for serving sizes: if a Charcuterie board is served as an appetizer, a good portion size is 3 oz. per person for each main food item on the board; if served as the main course, 6 oz. per person is a good starting point.
Dishes create structure on the board. Use little bowls and cups to anchor the arrangement and help contain loose items like dips, nuts, and olives. Raid your kitchen cabinets for salt cellars, small candy dishes, and ramekins. What you have on hand is perfect — they don’t need to match!
Eureka Charcuterie offers a wide selection of unique, high-quality cheeses. As a rule of thumb, include three to five cheeses in these basic categories: a hard cheese, a soft cheese, and a blue cheese. Contrasting flavors and textures diversify the board and give guests a broader range of options to sample. If you aren’t sure what to buy, send us a message and we’ll be happy to advise you, or if you can visit our store, don’t hesitate to ask a staff member for pairing recommendations!
Include a few varieties of thinly sliced cured meats; Eureka Charcuterie offers dozens of types of cured meats – and you can even sample some of them if you visit the store! Lay the cured meats flat or arrange them in loose rolls so they’re easy for guests to pick up and nibble on. You can also include harder meats that guests can cut themselves, like smoked sausages and salamis, and a spreadable meat like pâté (chicken or duck liver). Some popular Charcuterie meats include guanciale, pancetta, hard salami, prosciutto, and mortadella.
Crackers, breadsticks, breads. You’ll want to include a few starchy sidekicks, especially if your board includes soft, spreadable cheeses and jams. There’s no hard-and-fast rule here, though we recommend offering two types of crackers or breads with different flavor profiles. If someone on your guest list has gluten sensitivity, consider subbing in a nut-based cracker option.
Fruits and veggies add color and freshness to a Charcuterie board. They’re also a tasty contrast to rich, salty meats and cheeses. When planning which items to include, consider foods that can be eaten whole or cut into slices. Buy in-season produce for the best flavors.
The Sweet Stuff
Don’t forget the dark chocolate! Health studies have long confirmed the benefits of dark chocolate on memory and focus – and Eureka Charcuterie offers some of the world’s best specialty chocolate treats, including the Chocopologie line of confectionaries by the world-renowned House of Knipschildt. Chocopologie delivers preeminent quality handmade, hand-painted and hand-packed artisan chocolate. Its founder, Fritz Knipschildt, combines exquisite old European craftsmanship, intriguing avant-garde flavor combinations and state-of the art handpicked natural ingredients to create artistic customized chocolate pieces. Knipschildt chocolates have been showcased on national TV programs on The Food Network and CNBC as well as in major publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Oprah Magazine. Now you can get them from Eureka Charcuterie – and yes, you can even try a sample in the store!
Building a Charcuterie Board: Where Do I Start?
Building a Charcuterie platter is somewhat formulaic, so don’t let all the options overwhelm you. Start by adding structure with little dishes, then place your ingredients on the board starting with the largest elements like the cheeses and meats, followed by smaller items like crackers and fresh produce.
Step One: Add Structure
Fill small vessels with dips, spreads, and items that can be piled onto the board. Try honey, mustard, cornichons, blue cheese-stuffed olives, or a mixed selection of salted nuts. Peruse the variations and options in our store or online, and see what makes your taste buds wake up!
Step Two: Add the Cheeses and Meats
First, place the cheeses. Arrange them evenly around the board and allow space for slicing and scooping. BHG’s example used two kinds of Brie (a robust, creamy Brie and a mild Brie), blue cheese, an aged cheddar, and goat cheese on their board. Next, add the meats. In their example, BHG placed the prosciutto, Italian salami, and American salami in little piles next to the cheeses. It’s OK if items on the board touch; they’re meant to be enjoyed together.
Step Three: Add Crackers
Slip two or three small stacks of sliced bread or crackers among the bowls, meats, and cheeses. Let them topple over and get a bit messy — it’s part of the board’s beauty. BHG used two kinds of crackers — asiago cheese and flax seed — to complement the various flavors on the board.
Step Four: Add Fruits, Dark Chocolates, Veggies, and/or Herbs
This last step is the icing on the cake. Fill in any gaps on the board with fruits, vegetables, specialty sweets like artisan dark chocolates, and sprigs of herbs like whole radishes, sliced figs, red grapes, and thyme. If fresh herbs or fruits are not handily available, no big deal! Just sub in dried fruits like apricots, cherries, and plums for something sweet and chewy.
When your board is finished, set it out with a few cheese knives so guests can help themselves after they marvel at your masterpiece. Don’t forget to snap a photo of your food-art and tag Eureka Charcuterie on social media: Facebook @EurekaCharcuterie and Instagram @EurekaCharcuterie. We love to see what our customers create!