There’s something extra magical about an autumn night in.
Cocooned in something knitted, snuggled up with your people, visions of apple orchards and pumpkin pies in your head, who can resist surrendering to the cozy promise of shorter days and crisper nights? Add a roaring fire and you’ve basically got our definition of autumnal bliss.
It’s just missing one thing: Snacks! And not just any nibbles. Whether you’re grazing through a spooky movie marathon or keeping the hungry hordes at bay while you wait for that Thanksgiving turkey, a charcuterie board elevates any evening’s entertainment.
This fall, however, there’s a new star ingredient on the charcuterie scene: The latest Miss Vickie’s® Signatures kettle cooked potato chips. Available in three chef-inspired flavours (Black Truffle & Parmesan, Hickory Smoked Salt, Apple Cider Vinaigrette & Shallots), these Canadian-made morsels add a je ne sais quoi of indulgence to any arrangement of fine meat and cheeses. (And, let’s be real, they are great by themselves, straight out of the bag.)
To guide us on our path to chip-based charcuterie board greatness, we’ve enlisted Eden Grinshpan. A culinary connoisseur and new cookbook author, she’s also Miss Vickie’s Signatures’ first-ever “Chip Sommelier”. As a crunchy potato connoisseur, she believes what sets a great chip apart from a good chip is all in the flavouring. “When the flavour combinations are well thought out,” she says, “not only do they taste amazing, it’s easier to incorporate them into spreads when entertaining.”
Speaking of spreads, here are Eden’s top tips for building the most indulgent charcuterie board for your next night in.
#1 It’s all about balance
When you’re thinking about what items to place on your charcuterie board, make sure the flavours aren’t all hitting the same note. “Try to find symmetry between sweet and salty, rich and light on your charcuterie board,” Eden says. “This will help elevate and complement flavours in the chips, rather than create one overpowering taste.” For example, she would pair the tanginess of Miss Vickie’s® Signatures Apple Cider Vinaigrette & Shallots chips with the sweetness of red or green grapes and nuttier, and mellower cheeses like a Gruyère. Similarly, Eden recommends pairing the “intense” flavours of the Black Truffle & Parmesan chips with a milder fruit like pear.
#2 Keep it interesting
A charcuterie board should offer endless opportunities to combine and experiment with flavours and textures. That’s why Eden works on a 3:3 ratio for her meat and cheese selections. “For example, with cheese, I always include a mild creamy cheese, a sharp tangy cheese and a hard, nutty, bold cheese,” she says. She also makes sure to include an assortment of condiments like honey, jams or preserves, and mustards. “To top it all off, include fresh fruits, nuts and herbs—it’s all about variety.” That’s why she loves adding chips to her boards. “They bring another texture and flavour to it,” she says. “The crisp, crunchy quality of chips provides relief from softer meats and cheeses.” As an example, she loves to pair Miss Vickie’s® Signatures Hickory Smoked Salt chips with the contrasting crumbliness of an aged cheddar cheese, and the briny note of mixed olives.
#3 Stick to the formula
If you’re mathematically inclined, Eden recommends building a board that’s 20% meat, 20% cheese, 30% carbs (like chips), and 30% garnishes. (If you’re vegan or vegetarian, Eden adds that you get the same rich indulgence when you swap out meat and cheese for nuts like cashews and pickled veggies like artichokes or olives.) When you’re actually constructing it, she says it’s easiest to go in with your focal point—in this case, chips—and arrange your meats, cheeses and extras around them in complementary groupings. “There’s nothing sadder than a board that looks sparse,” Eden advises, so be generous with those handfuls of Miss Vickie’s Signatures chips. “Grapes are also a great filler that help to cleanse the palate between bites, as do herbs. I like to use thyme and lavender for a pop of colour.”
#4 Think outside the board
Do not let the fact that you don’t have a hand-hewn mahogany plank stop you from building a charcuterie board. “Any platter will do,” says Eden, who has used everything from slabs of granite to parchment paper herself. “If you’re concerned about aesthetics, I like to add full herbs to the plate or board to fill space and add a decorative touch.” In general, it’s a good idea to think of your board (or platter) as part of the wider tablescape. “You eat with your eyes first,” reminds Eden, “so creating a visual experience is important for a successful board.” Make sure it’s got depth—think high mounds of chips next to bowls of olives—and then add flowers and candles to the table around it.
#5 Dress it up for Thanksgiving
Like many of us, Eden will be tweaking her holiday plans a little this year, starting with cooking a chicken for her immediate family instead of the turkey she might make for a larger crowd. One thing that’s not changing? Starting her Thanksgiving off with a charcuterie board. “As the cook, it’s a great way to keep my guests or family entertained while I finish cooking the main meal.” To make it extra special for the occasion, Eden will be playing up the seasonal cues. “Pecans, woodsy herbs like rosemary and sage, dried cranberries…there are so many beautiful fall flavours that can be incorporated onto your board.” Just add chips and you’ve got all the fixings for a very special (and delicious) Thanksgiving night in.