See that bunch of cold cuts, fruits, and crackers stylishly thrown together in a plank? It turns out they're not just random happy accidents.
The Charcuterie Board is an art involving essential elements (add to that for the best casual dining experience. Today, we're dishing seven elements that completes a charcuterie board but before that, let's clear some essential questions first.
What is a charcuterie board, and how do you pronounce charcuterie board?
Charcuterie is the French word for curing meat, such as bacon, sausages, terrines, hams, galantines, pates, ballotines, confit, and so on. For a millennial trend, you wouldn't guess it to be an old, serious art of Roman and French influence dating back as far as the first century AD.
Adding "board" to charcuterie, the meaning changes to the arrangement of meat selections, various cheeses, differing textures of bread and crackers, pickled and salty goods, including some sweets or fruits on a wood plank.
The seven complete elements of the perfect charcuterie board
Every perfect charcuterie board needs a variety yet a balance of flavors and textures. Not knowing what to put on a charcuterie board can create an underwhelming board that wastes not just time and effort but also the food. Here are the seven elements that complete a charcuterie board.
1. Cured meatsCured meats are the backbone of every charcuterie board, serving as the focal point of flavor that compliments each other. Common cured meats are prosciutto, mortadella, salami, and Calabrese or Sopressata. Others may also opt to add harder meats for added texture.
2. Pairing cheesesCheeses come in three basic categories: hard, soft, and blue cheese. Hard cheeses are typically aged longer, which results in stronger flavors. Examples of hard cheeses are:
- Pecorino Romano
Soft cheeses are great spreads on bread and crackers. Some of these are sweet or buttery, and others crumbly. Examples are:
Blue cheeses provide a different world of flavor, ranging from sharp to mellow. Examples of blue cheese are:
There's no concrete rule in this element. Either cracker, bread, or a combination of both will do the job. However, the french way of charcuterie preparation is to only use bread.
A good baguette, sourdough, or walnut bread sliced in rounds and toasted in an oven is great. Care to be extra? Rub a halved garlic clove and drizzle some olive oil on the bread for extra flavor.
As for crackers, just grab anything bland or salted (according to preference), and you're set.
4. Jams, honey, and other spreads
Complimentary to your flavorful meats and cheeses are jams, honey, and other spreads. They provide another layer of flavor that can otherwise limit charcuterie boards to savory dimensions.
5. Olives/PicklesIf spreads add that layer of sweetness, olives and pickles provide that salty and sour note for balance.
Cornichons are popular but a bit expensive. Pickled onions are a perfect home solution for the adventurous, but you'll never go wrong with the classics: olives and pickles.
Experiment on what kind of nuts to incorporate into the palate party but pecans, walnuts, and pistachios are the common compliments to the popular meats and cheeses.
7. Dried flowers for a decorative touch, etc.
While garnish doesn't seem important, decorative pieces on a charcuterie board are. Dried flowers, even herbs such as rosemary and thyme, create that sophisticated charcuterie board vibe.
Not only that, decorative pieces provide aroma, which is another dimensional experience in a charcuterie board.
Now that you know the essential elements of a charcuterie board, in general, how do you prepare a charcuterie board?
How to build a charcuterie board?
- The first key component to secure is your board, with its dimensions scaling and serving size.
- Next, and most importantly, are the elements as listed above. The amount of each food element can be scaled depending on your budget, dietary needs or preferences, and even for a specific color palette.
- Then finally, assemble as your heart desires, remembering that small dishes and cups add unseen yet important organization to some ingredients that otherwise look out of place.
Where to buy a charcuterie board?
With so many things involved in the logistics of putting a charcuterie board together, it can get overwhelming. If you're itching to achieve professional and sophisticated-looking charcuterie boards in one go, engage with vendors offering pre-made charcuterie boards.
Not only does it save you the wasteful time of exploring brands of meats, cheeses, and crackers, but it also prevents the added cost of buying full-size items. Imagine spending a pretty penny on a block of cheese you end up disliking – yikes!
Platterful, the first true charcuterie subscription brand, offers the perfect amount of products to make a beautiful yet full board with ingredients sourced from the best artisan food makers across the United States.
Platterful’s monthly influx of boxes, delivered at your doorstep, includes an informational card on how to replicate the board to help you prepare your very own charcuterie board in the future. They also provide capsule descriptions of the food elements included in the box.