Charcuterie can be gourmet-fancy, simple, or a mix of both. There’s no cooking involved. It’s pretty much a buy-and-assemble type of food preparation activity, making it more alluring for last-minute party decisions or sudden afternoon chit-chat with friends.
Have you been on the web searching for how to put together a charcuterie board but don’t have the courage to actually arrange one?
Don’t let the posh term intimidate you from putting together charcuterie board. You just have to master the basics and do your own twist as you learn more about how to assemble a charcuterie board.
Today’s topic gives you a basic insight on how to arrange the food elements on top of the charcuterie board. It’s a guide for beginners or those itching to know how to set up charcuterie board, in general. But then again, food art never adheres to anything.
How to assemble charcuterie board
1. Secure all the food elements and board you need to complete a nice charcuterie board
If you’re not familiar yet with what’s included in a charcuterie board, we made a comprehensive list: 7 Things Every Charcuterie Board Needs.
2. Mind the ratio between the board’s size and the food elements’ quantity
An important thing to remember in arranging an aesthetically pleasing charcuterie board is the right ratio between a board’s size and the quantity of charcuterie food elements you’ll be arranging on top.
Too little charcuterie food on a wide board would make your charcuterie presentation seem “cost-cutting.” Too much food crammed on a small board would look like the whole thing was haphazardly arranged.
Having said that, charcuterie board presentations aren’t bound by a certain set of rules. Thus, there is no written ratio rule between a board’s size and charcuterie food quantity. Ultimately you will be the one “eyeing” that perfect balance.
No pressure, but charcuterie board assembly is an art determined by the artist (yes, you).
Practical tips in achieving that perfect ratio balance:
A. How much food you’re putting on top of the board is adjustable. The board, on the other hand, can’t be adjusted. It’ll remain within 9×13 inches to 12×18 inches. So choose wisely.
Round boards are anywhere between 12 inches all the way up to 26 inches. There is no definitive size in diameter. The size would highly depend on how many guests are coming, food quantity, and how you would arrange the food.
B. Budget how much food each guest will be served. Don’t be conservative about it. Always make room for a sizable amount of food. Prioritize budgeting the protein section (meat).
5 oz of meat per person is good, but if charcuterie is just an appetizer, 2 oz of meat per person is enough.
3. Prepare your charcuterie board
People often forget that there’s a pro way of preparing a wooden charcuterie board. Remember, charcuterie boards should not just look cute. They should be sanitized well too. Here are the steps on how to prepare a board before putting your food elements on top:
- Put a bit of soap on a cloth and rub it all around the board.
- Lightly rinse under running water.
- Rub the surface of the board with either lemon juice or white vinegar.
- Sprinkle any coarse salt like sea salt on the surface of the board. Rub it together with either lemon juice or white vinegar. Leave it for at least 15 minutes.
- Rinse. Air dry or towel dry.
- (Optional) Buff the wood with any edible oil-like consistency, such as beeswax.
- (Optional) Add parchment paper on top of the board if you don’t like food sticking on the board.
4. Start arranging your cheese
Select two to three kinds of cheeses. Variety is good, but if you or your guests don’t like certain types like “blue cheese,” don’t include them in your board.
Firm/hard cheese: Cut “firm cheeses” into (a not too thin or thick) uniform slice. Create a criss-cross or diagonal arrangement out of these slices.
Examples of hard cheeses are:
- Pecorino Romano
Creamy/soft cheese: Leave your cream cheese in bulks (like soft rocks).
Examples of hard cheeses are:
Cheeses are one of a charcuterie board’s star elements, so put them in the center of the board.
5. Meat, please!
Round meats: Round meats like salami are folded into half or quarters. Arrange them all together to form a ruffle.
Thinly sliced meats: Thin and irregular-shaped meats like prosciutto are lightly scrunched together, forming a sort of rosette structure.
Put the meat between, in the center, or on the side of your cheeses. Either way, meat, and cheeses are always near each other.
6. Pass the carb
Slip stacks of crackers and sliced bread around the board. Fan them neatly around your cheeses and meat or stylishly toss them around and get a bit messy.
Breadsticks or crudités are placed in a nice glass. Their upright position adds an interesting flair to your presentation.
7. Fill the gap with jams, nuts, vegetables, pickled fruits, and other decorative accessories
Any gaps left now are ready to be filled with what’s left of your charcuterie elements (fruits, jams, veggies, herbs, nuts, sweets, pickled fruits, and other decorative accessories).
Jams and other food elements that are sticky or have liquid on them can either be placed on bowls or are left in their original packaging (if the bottle is cute, use them).
Add a burst of color to your charcuterie board by putting food elements with widely varying color families. You could also evoke a simple, minimalist design by using the same colored food elements (example: group red cherries, red grapes, red jellies, apples, strawberries, etc.).
8. Refrigerate your charcuterie board
Don’t forget to refrigerate your newly assembled charcuterie board with the elements beautifully arranged on top. Take them out of your refrigerator 30 to 45 minutes before the party starts. This puts your charcuterie within room temperature range, allowing your guests to enjoy the board’s full flavors.
Perishable items like food shouldn’t be out for more than two hours. Consider keeping a refill of meats and cheeses in your refrigerator. Take them out when you need to restock.
Charcuterie boards are theoretically served chilled. Droopy-looking meat, crackers, and melted cheese wouldn’t look appetizing.
General tip: put the food elements in groups but still loosely arranged. Your board shouldn’t evoke a feeling of “strictness.” Your guests should feel comfortable enough to rummage around the board without feeling guilty of toppling a cheese or two.
Now that you know the basic charcuterie board organization, you’re now ready to experiment with designing your very own board. Again, there’s no formula; anything goes. So make a beautiful mess out there.
About Platterful: Platterful, the first true charcuterie subscription brand, offers the perfect amount of products to make a complete charcuterie board with ingredients sourced from the best artisan food makers in the United States.
Platterful’s monthly influx of boxes includes an informational card on how to replicate the board to help you prepare your very own charcuterie board.