How to Build the Perfect Charcuterie Board
"Charcuterie" is the French word for making meats like bacon, terrines, pies and more – but you probably know "Charcuterie" as the fancy food boards that gourmets post on Instagram. At its core, a sausage slab is simply a combination of meat, cheese, spreads and accompanying side dishes. It may sound like a simple undertaking, but if you see generous displays that are a half-meter long and look like an interior designer would have arranged, it can be a bit overwhelming – but it does not have to be. We've asked some experts how to build the perfect charcuterie board for all kinds of parties.
How big should your sausage board be?
The first thing you need to do is determine the size of your sausage board. Do you attach a small starter plate to your book club, or do you want it to serve as a dinner for a crowd? Chef Rachael Polhill of New York City's Dante restaurant recommends starting with at least four meat dishes and two cheeses. However, as the guest list increases, you will need to add either larger portions or a larger selection.
Start with the meat
The options for meat on your board can be as adventurous as you and your guests. Polhill recommends prosciutto, jamon ibérico and salami as some basics. If you go the sausage route, it suggests a sweeter and a spicy (for example, Spanish chorizo or Italian soppressata), to confuse the offer. Then she tells her to grab some "interesting" things, like Terrine, Rillette, Nduja or Bresola.
This area of your board will be filled with protein. So do not forget to balance it with lean options like turkey rasps or smoked salmon. For all types of meat, as you indicate, mix some, fold them in half, make triangles, or go the deliberately chaotic path.
Next the cheese
Owning Cured, a gourmet cheese and charcuterie grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, Will and Coral Frischkorn have a strong opinion of the cheese that stands on a plate.
"We start with the cheeses, as this is the heart and soul of the board, we make sure we have cheeses that balance and give the palate a little exploration," they explain. They focus on cheese that complements and contrasts their chosen meat.
Visit the local dairy or grocery store and ask for the best options right now. The most popular sausages include Parmesan, smoked Gouda and Manchego. Make sure you sprinkle some healthy cheeses such as mozzarella, goat's cheese and Swiss cheese.
The fresh grains recommend coating by leaving soft, round cheeses whole, chopping objects like Goudas and Cheddars, and cutting some into triangles.
Chef Perry Pollaci from the Castaway restaurant in Burbank, California offers a cheese tip. "My favorite trick is to cut harder cheese with a Japanese mandolin," says Pollaci. Not only do you get even slices, but the thinness of your cuts reinforces the salt and the crystals in the cheese. Pollaci says he prefers to use this technique on Midnight Moon cheese, a tough goat's milk cheese from Holland.
Do not overload the board with carbohydrates
Next, round off your board with items that you can combine with your meat and cheese selection. Does your audience feel comfortable with carbohydrates? Of course, there is always a craving for fresh baguette or crispy crackers – but Vinson Petrillo, Chopped Champion and Executive Chef of Zero Restaurant + Bar in Charleston, South Carolina, says your board will benefit from the "rough texture of really good, light weight grilled bread that is crispy and tough. "This goes well with everything, from creamy cheese to spicy meat.
If your guests are a little more carbohydrate-conscious, you should add a variety of jars such as nutmeg crackers, apples, cucumbers, rinds or sweet potato chips. Think outside the box of gluten-free and low-carbohydrate options that you can add to the plate.
CONNECTED: The easy way to healthier foods.
Give it an accent
Finally, round off your meal with accessories, so to speak. These are sauces and dips that go well with your spread, like fig jam or blackberry compote. Petrillo says a sweet mustard and a fresh jam are essential, while Polhill says that if you use pork rillettes, apple flavor is a must.
Anything else could be added as a functional decoration: these elements not only go well with your previous choices, they also add color and variety to your plate. Remember to add fresh herbs, olives, dried plums, candied nuts, cucumbers, hard-boiled eggs and even fresh honeycomb.
Design the plate
"Building a nice board is about balance and not perfection," Frischkorns says. They say it's just shifts. After selecting the right plate, plate or tray, first distribute your cheese over the entire surface. Then put your meat in and nest your extra items in the remaining rooms.
Above all, have fun with it. There is no wrong way to create and arrange a sausage board. Whether you think you've created a Pinterest-worthy creation or not (but you'll probably follow those tips), your guests will love your charcuterie board.