If every meal included a perfectly executed charcuterie board, I would be the happiest of campers. But aside from throwing together random cheeses, salami and crackers, it can be an art form, one of which most of us don't have the 411 on. Boxwood Avenue + Butter And Salt and Gagewood are coming to the rescue with 5 simple tips that will instantly upgrade your next charcuterie spread.
As a true lover of entertaining, I find myself prepping cheese platters more often than not. It's easy to toss a few blocks of cheese into my cart while grocery shopping, but I rarely put much thought into it, if I'm being honest, I most likely make my selections based on the fact that I was hungry, and really liked the free sample.
I usually keep cheese, crackers, and hard salami on hand for last minute guests, or nights that call for a dinner of cheese & wine; however, just like wine pairing, cheese & charcuterie pairing is an art. One that takes more thought than I am generally willing to give while roaming the aisles of the market. It's so much easier to reach for a tried and true cheddar than it is to go out on a blue cheese whim. So when I met the fabulous duo behind the private chef & catering company Butter + Salt, I knew just what to ask them: What are your best tips for preparing a cheese & charcuterie board?
Tip 1: Start with the cheese.
Aubrey suggests going with a trio of cheeses, all with different milks to showcase a variety of flavors. Think a cow's milk, a sheep's milk, and a goat's milk. Opting for one soft cheese, one hard cheese, and one blue cheese will cover all of the bases.
Tip 2: Choose a variety of meat.
When selecting meats, start with a spicy variety, a fennel sausage or something pepper crusted will do just the trick. Also, be sure to include something soft like a prosciutto, which is mild, and something fatty like a pâte or fatty sausage. Pâtés are often overlooked, but a high quality pâte is a must for a great charcuterie board, and adding Maldon's Sea Salt on top is a total game changer!
Tip 3: High quality vehicles are necessary!
Club crackers are a waste of time and money; instead, buy a loaf of fresh baked bread from the bakery, or if you'd like to keep something on hand, artisan crackers are always great for adding extra crunch.
Tip 4: Finally, finish with something sweet & crunchy.
Including a variety of fresh fruit, honeycomb, and preserves add more dimension to your charcuterie board, and add more combinations of flavors. For this cheese board, we used freshly preserved cardamom fig jam, pickled plums, fresh figs, and local honeycomb. You'll also want to add a bit of crunch, which is easy to do with nuts and crackers. Butter + Salt baked a batch of hazelnut flûtes which was the perfect touch.
Tip 5: Build your board around the key players.
If you splurged on a pâté, you might want to place it in the center of your board. Or, if you bought fresh baked bread, you can highlight it by placing it in a great basket. When you build your charcuterie, place the key players on the board first, then add the accent ingredients to highlight them.
For more easy entertaining tips, visit Boxwood Avenue