Sitting on the porch in the summer with friends gathered while noshing around a charcuterie board makes for the best evening. I love evenings like this is because of the great stories shared and the satisfying process of making the charcuterie board. Getting praise for the beautiful charcuterie board only adds to the satisfaction. The slate board is the canvas and where cured meats and cheeses act as the paint. A good charcuterie board brings people together, admiring it and grazing as is its purpose.
So here is my strategy for making a great charcuterie board, I hope you enjoy it! Please feel free to follow along while making your own.
First things first you need cheese! A good cheese selection is crucial. You need three different types of cheeses, the first being firm cheese that you can cube such as cheddar cheese. Secondly, the board needs a soft cheese that you can spread on crackers. A classic and crowd-pleaser is brie–who doesn’t love brie cheese? My parents like blue cheese to fill this category, but I think it’s gross and I don’t recommend it. The third cheese needs to be a fun cheese! One that people haven’t tried and is different than a typical brie or cheddar. My favorite to fill this category is the Creamy Tuscano Cheese from Trader Joe’s, which never fails to impress. A variety of cheeses ensures that someone will find one they like.
You want to assemble the cheeses around the board in zones, NOT touching. They should be spread out so that each section of the board has a different cheese.
Now onto the meats! Again, having a variety is the goal. Typically, I just pick out a variety pack of salamis but always one with prosciutto (it’s the best).
Assembly is the best part here. Thanks to Tik Tok, I learned how to make a flower out of salami by layering the pieces around the rim of a wine glass and flipping it over onto the board. This amazes people! It is super easy and everyone is always impressed. For smaller boards, it is a centerpiece but for a larger board, multiple salami roses create a garden of charcuterie. With larger pieces of salami, fold them into quarters and stack them together to form what I like to call a salami river (please look at the photos for reference). A river can wind around pieces of the board to bring them together and draw your eye across the charcuterie canvas.
Now that the backbones of the board are in place, everything from here on out I view as artistic layers. Typically, at this point, the board is lacking in color but a good way to solve this is by adding fruit. I like green grapes (they taste better), strawberries, and blackberries. When a cheese board has grapes on it, I picture that scene in Ratatouille where Remi takes a bite of cheese and a grape at the same time while seeing swirls. That is the experience we want everyone to have when eating from the charcuterie board.
Along with fruit, little bowls of olives, jams, and tiny pickles add to the entire experience and are a nice break from cheese and crackers. The little pickles are my favorite. I recently learned that they are technically called cornichons but I think little pickles sound better. Bowls should be placed in between the cheese and meats, again not touching. They should act as planets floating in space. If you have lots of bowls these could be placed on the board first before cheese and meats.
Now! Crackers! There are so many options in the cracker department ranging from plain buttery crackers to dried fig and rosemary brioche crisps. Regardless of your preference, you can place them sporadically throughout the board or in a tray on the side. I’m in favor of the tray because I typically get carried away making the board and then there’s no room for crackers. Also, they’re not the star of the show–just a vehicle to eat cheese. If you really want to impress people, get the parmesan twist crackers. They are heavenly.
To top it all off, sprinkle nuts (as long as no one is allergic) across the charcuterie board. Imagine that you are a kid decorating cupcakes, be liberal sprinkling the nuts. They make for the perfect finish to a perfect charcuterie board to share with friends on a lovely evening.