Guide: What you need to know to make meat, crackers, cheese spreads

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A real charcuterie board – appetizers laid out on a surface like smoked and salted sliced ​​meats, sausages, bread and slices of cheese – are great for entertaining.

For the Washington Post

Scroll through your social media feed and you’ll likely see “charcuterie” boards of all types: breakfast boards with pancakes, bacon, syrup, and fresh fruit; dessert boards with chocolates, cookies and brownies; and even fast food versions with fries, chicken nuggets, and a selection of dipping sauces.

While the term has been used to encompass almost any selection of appetizers laid out on a surface, a true deli board offers a selection of smoked and salted meats, sausages, pâtés, and more. them. (A cheese board, on the other hand, focuses more on a selection of cheeses.)

Charcuterie boards are great for entertaining or enjoying on your own, as you can feed any number of people without having to cook and for those days when you just can’t muster the energy. While in general everything is fine, there are a few guidelines you should keep in mind to get the most out of these spreads.

Tips for making a good charcuterie board

Here’s a guide and tips on what you need to know, including what foods to buy, how much to buy, what to put on, and how to put it together so you can build a deli board for maximum enjoyment with your guests.

What foods should be on a charcuterie board?

Do you remember those Lunchables you used to take to school? These meat, cracker, and cheese wrappers are basically kids’ charcuterie boards – and those categories should always be included in the versions we build as adults. Beyond that, you can add various accessories to complete it. Balance the fat and salt in meats and cheeses with sweet or shiny and brackish products, and include ingredients that allow people to create interesting texture profiles.

Deli Boards allow guests to choose their own adventures as they build their plates, so giving as much variety as it makes sense for the number of people you’re trying to feed allows for the most delicious results.

Me at. The term “charcuterie” comes from the French “flesh” (“chair”) and “cuit” (“cooked”), so meat should be the star of the table. As such, variety – in terms of flavors and textures – is the name of the game. I would recommend at least three types, such as slices of prosciutto or country ham, savory links of spicy chorizo ​​or andouille sausage, a pâté or a spread and a salami or pepperoni that will please everyone.

Bread and crackers. These items are the canvas on which the masterpieces of charcuterie boards are made. If you only have one option to offer, it should be fairly straightforward, so as not to distract from the flavors of the other ingredients on the table. When it comes to bread, thin slices of baguette, or even sandwich bread cut into four pieces – best toasted to give it some structural integrity – and the water crackers or flatbreads pictured above are good options. For larger boards, you can include other types, like seed crackers or fruit and nut chips (like those sold at Trader Joe’s).

Cheese. As with bread and crackers, if you only include one cheese, go for one that pairs universally well with others, like cheddar or havarti. Beyond that, (again) think about flavor and texture: a soft and creamy Brie or Boursin; a firm and salty Parmesan or pecorino; an awesome piece of blue cheese; or small balls of mozzarella.

Nice thing. Everyone knows how desirable the sweet-and-salty combo is, so let’s bring it into play here. Options include fresh fruit (apple or pear slices, or bunches of grapes), dried fruit (apricots, raisins, figs or dates), various jams and marmalades, and honey.

Brackish and bright. These items work well for cutting through the fat found in a lot of deli meats. Some things to consider are various pickles (pickles, onions, or cauliflower), things in brine (like olives or artichoke hearts), and whole grain or Dijon mustard.

Crispy pieces. Nuts – which I hope you’ve toasted – and veggies – radishes are a personal favorite – can add a nice crunch to play the crunchy on crackers or toast.

How much meat and cheese should I buy for a charcuterie board?

The general rule of thumb is about 2 ounces per person of meat and cheese if you’re serving the charcuterie board as an appetizer and double if it’s a full meal. Because I’m afraid of running out of food, I tend to always have a bit more in case the gathering lasts longer than expected or people are hungrier than usual.

Plus, many of these items are built to last and can be enjoyed for days or weeks to come, so there’s no need to worry about wasted food.

How to assemble and serve a charcuterie board

Equipment. To get started, you need a surface on which to place the objects. Since we’re on the subject of deli boards, after all, wood cutting boards are usually what I take, but other options include any other suitably sized board or surface you have.

You can even build it directly on a clean counter or table if you want (although I recommend putting a layer of parchment or butcher’s paper underneath for easier cleaning.) In addition to a surface, you will also need small ramekins and bowls for any dips and spreads, and utensils, such as knives and spreads, for serving.

It’s time to build. Start with the large items to make sure they have room on the board, so place your cheese wedges, whole sausages, and bowls or ramekins first. Then add sliced ​​meats – create playful bresaola fluff that looks as inviting as a messy quilt, arrange sopressata rivers that meander around wedges of cheese and jam bowls, and fold roses. of salami that have invaded social networks.

Then fill any remaining space with whatever you plan to serve, being careful not to overcrowd it so that it’s easier for people to cut a piece of brie or a slice of chorizo. You can choose to decorate more with fresh herbs or edible flowers, but I agree with Coco Chanel that no additional accessories are needed.

Let’s eat! It’s best to let the cheese soften slightly and come to room temperature before serving, so let it sit for 30 minutes before planning to eat. If you’re serving things that guests need to cut themselves, like big wedges or whole sausages, cut a few pieces to start.

Finally, while the massive charcuterie boards are impressive, the smaller ones are more practical. Especially if the gathering is going on for a while, it’s best to fill in as time goes on or have a back-up board ready to go that you can swap out after a few hours for food safety best practices. .


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