Charcuterie Boards Made Brie-zyBy Joe Parenteau
Many of our favorite childhood meals have now become gourmet and what was once an after school snack of cheese and crackers, has now become the centerpiece at most parties. With #foodgoals trending, we’re here to help you make the most delicious and Instagram-able charcuterie board possible.
Making your charcuterie board look great
Height: when plating your charcuterie, aim to layer, stack, and pyramid each part. This will ensure that your board has volume, and wows your guests.
Board coverage: the key to a full board is in the layers - this avoids exposing the board when a single piece is removed. A good rule of thumb when layering is to allow half of the items to be consumed before the board becomes visible.
The order in which you layer on cheese, meat, and other toppings is important.
Always start with small bowls of spread. These two-three bowls will be the focal point from which you will build your board.
Next, layer the meats and cheeses around the bowls. Be careful not to allow for much space between each piece. The more you can add at this stage, the more your board will shine.
As your board begins to fill out, tuck the final meats and cheeses anywhere that you can find space, tightening up the board even further. This should result in the board filling out and looking like it can hold no more.
When it seems like the board is bursting at the seams with all of your delicious selections, begin placing the final toppings. Incorporate your sliced pickles, halved grapes, or crumbled almonds around the peripherals, giving the board a hint of color and fullness.
Making your charcuterie board taste great
A great tasting board not only needs to look like a piece of art but must also feature a diverse set of toppings that will leave your guests debating which spread/cheese/meat combination is best.
The first thing to remember when selecting cheese is that, as a crowd favorite, it’s almost impossible to get wrong. We understand that with an overwhelming amount of options, it may not be clear on where to begin. There are two categories that may help to select the right cheese for you: density and origin. Here are a few examples.
Firm and crumbly: classic aged Irish cheddar or Italy’s favorite, parmesan
Medium-firm: our personal favorite the Spanish Manchego, or the crowd-pleasing double-creamed gouda.
Soft and sticky: the polarizing gorgonzola, the tart unripened Salt Spring Island goat cheese, or a melt in your mouth Dutch brie.
We like to select at least one cheese from each of these three categories to keep the board flavorful and diverse.
In order to narrow down the meat options, consider two factors: type of meat, and level of spiciness. Also, always ask the butcher to slice your selections paper-thin.
Here are a few combos that have great balance, and have been popular with our guests:
- Italian prosciutto, an aged sausage, and a Hungarian peppercorn salami.
- Portuguese jamón ibérico, mortadella, and a cured chorizo sausage
You may also want to consider adding or subbing in your favorite pâté or canned sardines.
Toppings & Spreads
Like Robin to Batman, every star needs a supporting act. For your board, the spreads are your Robin. These toppings and spreads not only act as fillers on your board, but also compliment your cheeses and meats to enhance their flavor.
As the board comes together, we like to ensure that we choose a variety of toppings and spreads, keeping in mind a balance of tart, bitter, salty, sweet, and umami (earthy) flavors. We pick two spreads and two toppings to round out the flavor profile of the board.
These are a few combinations we have fallen in love with:
- The classic, but never out of style dill pickle, fig jam, red pepper jelly, and raw walnuts
- Found at your local brewery - beer jelly, green olives, caramelized onion jam, and spicy honey.
Crackers & Bread
When choosing the base layer to stack your toppings upon we generally do not want anything too flavourful or anything with a strong herb taste. We give our guests two options consisting of a sliced baguette from a local bakery, Small Victories is our personal favorite and some salted sourdough crackers.
Tag us in your charcuterie photos and comment on your favorite charcuterie combo.