How-To

How To Build An Epic Charcuterie Board

Your charcuterie board will feel anything but overdone with these creative plating ideas

In partnership with Freybe 

Epic charcuterie boards are one of the biggest food trends of 2021, and for good reason. The fancy, grown-up version of kids’ Lunchables is a customizable snack buffet that holds something for everyone: cheese connoisseurs, fruit fiends and meat lovers included.

Here’s how to take your board to the next level with a few creative plating tricks and garnish ideas.

Start with a good variety of cheese

This is a great opportunity to splurge a little on some specialty cheeses that you might not normally snack on. Aim to include a cheese from each of the following categories.

Hard: Look for a savory, firm cheese like Parmigiano-Reggiano, Manchego or Pecorino.

Soft: This is where brie cheese gets to shine. Opt for ultra-smooth and decadent double- or triple-cream brie or camembert.

Funky: Go for something strong, ripe and a little stinky, like a stilton or gorgonzola.

Fresh: Include a light, fresh cheese with plenty of texture that’s delicate and accessible for everyone. Think fresh goat cheese, mozzarella or burrata.

 

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Add high quality meats

Charcuterie literally means the art of assembling cured and prepared meats, so the meat selection is really at the heart of your board. Consider adding a range of the following:

Prosciutto or Speck: This salty dry-cured ham can be shaved thinly for a melt-in-your-mouth moment, or sliced and rolled up to serve.

Pâté: Include a spreadable meat to serve on crackers, like Freybe Herb or Cognac Pate.

Sausage and Pepperettes: Switch up the meat format by adding whole sausages, like chorizo and Freybe’s Pepperoni Sticks.

Salami: Include a variety of salamis, such as Freybe’s Hungarian Salami, Freybe’s Cervelat Salami and Freybe’s Pepper Salami. Make it fancy by arranging salami slices in beautiful ways, like salami roses.

Photo, Erik Putz. Prop styling, Rayna Marlee Schwartz.

How to make a salami rose: Using the opening of a narrow glass, like a champagne flute, fold a piece of salami in half over the rim of the glass.

Add another slice of salami, overlapping it over the first piece. Layer slices around the opening of the glass to achieve multiple petals.

Turn the glass upside down onto your surface and press it slightly to set the salami slices. Remove glass and garnish with your salami rose.

Photo, Erik Putz. Prop styling, Rayna Marlee Schwartz.

Dips, spreads and toppings

Customization is the key to a standout board, and one of the best ways to up your charcuterie game is through a variety of toppings. Add sweet and salty dip options, such as grainy mustard, tapenade, a high-quality raw honey and a fruit compote.

Layer in fruit

Sprinkling in fruit like berries, grapes and pears offers something sweet and refreshing to cleanse the palate between rich meats and cheeses. You can’t go wrong with classic fruit combos like grapes, apples or pears, figs and berries, but it’s always best to choose seasonal fruit when possible.

The carbs, or “vehicles”

Crackers and baguettes are the vessel for all the good stuff on your board, so play with texture and types. Cover your bases by including sliced baguette, buttery crackers, seedy or nutty crackers for extra flavour and thin, toppable crackerbread.

Photo, Erik Putz. Prop styling, Rayna Marlee Schwartz.

The finishing touches

It’s all in the details, and every sprig of rosemary counts towards the flavour, crunch and visual effect of your board. This is the last opportunity to layer in those thoughtful accoutrements, so add a variety of nuts (both salty and candied), pickles, dried fruits, fresh herbs and even dark chocolate.

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