How to Make a Great Charcuterie Board
I love Charcuterie. It’s probably my favourite food. But I’ve also had too many crappy-cheese-only ones to count. What really makes Charcuterie for me is all the extras that add a new dimension to amazing cheeses- oh and wine! Lots of wine! Here are some tips to add to really make your Charcuterie Board one to remember . . .
1. Great cheese
I mean not just Marble and Cheddar. A great place to look is at Costco, a grocery store with a cheese area to their deli or a speciality cheese shop. The general rule is one hard cheese, one soft cheese and something in the middle or very different. Usually someone at a cheese shop, who kind of works as a cheese sommelier, will ask you a few questions and point you in the right direction. If you are in Calgary, the team at Janice Beaton Fine Cheese has never led me wrong!
2. Something sweet
Some options include jam or jelly, fresh apple, pears, berries, honey in the comb, or dried fruits. Something sweet will really balance well with a nutty cheese or something farmey. I have a bit of a sweet tooth, so sometimes I include more than one sweet thing. If kids are around, often your apples and fruit get snatched away!
3. Something sour
Tart apples, balsamic reduction, or something pickled can really pair nicely with and old Cheddar or rich Gouda. This component balances with the richness of cheeses.
4. Something rich or nutty
Nuts or seeds pair well with softer cheeses for crunch and texture. The salty richness bring out the flavour in many cheeses. Olives that are salty and oily are another favourite. Fresh herbs also add another flavor – rosemary is divine!
5. Crackers and/or bread
I love a nice seedy cracker, but my favourite has to be French bread. It is the perfect balance for me. It gives the Charcuterie some substance. Sometimes I make my own crackers and include flavours that will pair nicely with my planned cheese plate. They are surprisingly easy too.
I go for one that is fatty and lovely, like Prosciutto, and one a little spicier, like a type of Salami. I’ve used everything from a smoky Landjaeger to a cured Rosemary Ham. Terrine or Pate are other options too.
My favourite way to eat Charcuterie is like a meal. This food is that good it’s hard to save room for anything else. But is also makes a great appetizer, or even dessert! For a dessert, crank up the sweet components and skip the meats and it is delightful! We usually serve it when having an open house or party because then someone with dietary needs can cater to their own tastes, allergies or preferences. For example if you are gluten-free, skip the bread and go for a gluten-free cracker, load up on the cheeses, meats and fruit. Kids usually go for the bread, meat, plain cheeses and fruit. Non-dairy folk eat the sides, bread and meat. It is easy to cater to a picky or more adventurous palate!