Konnecting with Kris Blog
Connect with Saline County FCS agent Kris Boulton.
Charcuterie Boards and Snacking
In the French tradition, charcuterie (pronounced shar-COO-tur-ree ") is the art of preparing and assembling cured meats and meat products. A charcuterie board is an assortment of meats, cheeses, artisan breads, olives, fruit, and nuts, all artfully arranged on a serving board.
While charcuterie (pronounced shar-COO-tur-ree) technically refers only to a selection of cold cooked meats, it's usually inclusive of a broad supporting cast of cheeses, spreads, crackers, nuts, and produce. The best aspect of charcuterie boards is the flexibility they afford: Scale portions up or down depending on the number of guests, adjust ingredients for dietary needs and preferences, or shop for foods within a specific color palette or region.
Tip One: The Platter
First, choose a board, tray, or platter to be your foundation. Wood and marble are popular charcuterie board material choices because they are sturdy and beautiful. The shape is simply a matter of preference, though you should take the elements of your board into account when making your selections. For example, a rectangular board may better accommodate long, leafy vegetable stems or cheese wedges than a square-shape one. Keep in Mind: The larger the board, the more money you'll spend to fill it up. If you want to keep your budget in check, fill large boards out with more produce or opt for a smaller one.
Tip Two: Dishes
Dishes create structure on the board. Use little bowls and cups to anchor the arrangement and help contain loose items like dips, nuts, and olives. Raid your kitchen cabinets, small candy dishes, and ramekins. What you have on hand is perfect—they don't need to match!
Tip Three: Cheeses
If your budget and location allow it, go to a local cheese shop for unique, high-quality cheeses. As a rule of thumb, include three to five cheeses in these basic categories: a hard cheese, a soft cheese, and a blue cheese. Contrasting flavors and textures diversify the board and give guests a broader range of options to sample.
Tip Four: Meats
Include a few varieties of thinly sliced cured meats. Lay them flat or arrange them in loose rolls so they're easy for guests to pick up and nibble on. You can also include harder meats that guests can cut themselves, like smoked sausages and salamis, and a spreadable meat like pâté (chicken or duck liver). Some popular charcuterie meats include pancetta, hard salami, prosciutto.
Tip Five: Crackers
You'll want to include a few starchy sidekicks, especially if your board includes soft, spreadable cheeses and jams. There's no hard-and-fast rule here, though if someone on your guest list has gluten intolerance consider offering a nut-based cracker option.
Tip Six: Produce
Fruits and veggies add color and freshness to a charcuterie or meat and cheese board. They're also a tasty contrast to rich, salty meats and cheeses. When planning which items to include, consider foods that can be eaten whole or cut into slices. Buy in season produce for the best flavors (and to trim down your grocery bill).
Most charcuterie meats and cheese are tastiest when served at room temperature. Perishable items shouldn't sit out for more than two hours. Consider keeping a small selection of "refill" items, like sliced meats and cheeses, in the refrigerator so they're ready to go when the board needs restocking.