Drinks, dancing, food, friends—who doesn’t love going to parties?
But hosting a party can seem overwhelming. Yummy cocktails; music that sets the right mood; perfect decor and lighting; chairs and seating arrangements—so many details! AND people expect you to feed them? Where does it end?!
One of the best solutions for the food side of things is to go with a charcuterie board. (That’s pronounced shar-KOO-tuh-ree.) A charcuterie board is simple yet elegant, requires minimal prep work, and always looks impressive. Plus almost everyone will love it–who can say no to meat, cheese, bread, and fruit?
A charcuterie board is easy to make if you know what items to look for. Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll need to build your own board for your next casual get-together or fancy soiree:
Serving essentials – Select a serving plate or board that will suit your purposes and style. Are you hosting 5 people or 20? Do you like rustic or elegant? You can pick out some cute new cheese knives and spoons for jam, or use items from your own cutlery set. Remember to include toothpicks if you want to avoid too many fingers flying around the serving board.
Meat and cheese – It’s a good idea to do half meat and half cheese for the base. Choose varying levels of taste and texture for both. Not everyone likes sharp cheese, and not everyone likes mild, and the same with the meats. Your best bet is to go to a deli counter that will let you sample before you buy. Choose some mild, some medium, and some bold, unique flavors. And vary the textures as well: a few soft, a few medium, and a few hard cheese options.
Fruits and jams – Choose seasonal fruits and jams to pair with your meat and cheese. Berries in the summer work great, while apples are a wonderful choice for fall. (If using apples, remember to squeeze a little lemon juice over the slices to prevent browning.) Spiced jams are another excellent idea, creating a very interesting flavor when paired with a milder cheese.
Alcohol – If you plan on serving drinks and have specific ideas for your cocktails, keep that in mind while selecting meats and cheeses. The milder the drink choice, the better it pairs with milder food. Just as with the items on your board, it’s a good idea to have a selection for all palates.
Bread and crackers – Have at least two bread options and two cracker options. A crusty baguette is always a crowd pleaser. Cut bread into small pieces, but large enough to fit toppings. Crackers with various nuts, seeds, and dried fruits provide more textures and flavors.
Extras – Adding at least one item like pickles, olives, or capers brings some exciting flavors to the plate as well. Some interesting choices are sweet gherkins, bread-and-butter pickle chips, and garlic-stuffed or kalamata olives. You can even add spreads if you have any you love, such as hummus or aioli.
As for arranging your charcuterie board, the fun is left up to you! At first this task might seem a bit daunting, but let your creativity flow. Layer each item, and leave space between the different foods. You might try meat on one side and cheese on the other with fruit in the middle. Balance colors and textures, use condiments and fruit for accents–you can even get super creative and come up with a way to label the food choices. If you’re totally lost or need inspiration, turn to our buddy the Internet, and grab some ideas from there. You can find photos of many different arrangements and possibilities online. Check out the board we crafted up in our kitchen – yum!
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