The Art of the Charcuterie Board
It is that time of year again, and you probably have an array of friends and family planning to visit during the holiday season. With the hustle and bustle of trying to plan dinners, bake, mail holiday cards, and wrap gifts, you may be searching for easy entertaining ideas. One of the most simple and striking party snacks is the charcuterie board. Not only does it appeal to a wide array of guests, but you can also make yours fun and unique by incorporating products that are special to you and your area by following a few simple guidelines. Not to mention, a beautiful spread will keep your guests busy until you are ready to serve the main entrées!
Anybody who knows me would guess that, in my opinion, the cheese is the main event! While some may disagree, it is undeniably a very important part of the charcuterie board. Because each of your guests likely have different palates, make sure you select a variety of cheeses. For example, you might pick our mild, nutty Parmesan, our sharp, award-winning Smoked Cheddar (definitely a conversation starter!), and something sweet, like our Cherry Sage Cheddar. When choosing cheeses, you also want to take into consideration their coloring, as people tend to eat with their eyes first, so a beautiful contrast will make the best first impression.
As with cheeses, you want to pick a variety of meats that will appeal to all your guests. The most traditional meats are prosciutto, salami, capicola, and bresaola. However, it can also be fun to throw-in something a little different like pate or a spicy chorizo. There are many old and new local, cured meat companies that have a wide variety of meats to pick from, and by doing a quick local search, you can easily find some fun options that are sure to get your guests talking.
Grapes are probably the most common type of fruit to add to a charcuterie, and while they are palate cleansing and a great choice, there are also some other fun fruit options you might consider. Two of my favorites are fresh apricots (cut in halves, pit removed) and roasted figs. You can also add something unexpected, like roasted red peppers or colorful berries. A good guideline to follow is, find-out which fruits are local and in-season, and use them!
Local jams, preserves, and honey are a must when it comes to the charcuterie board. There are so many unique options out there, too. Use traditional honey, a tangy current jam, and something unexpected, like jalapeno preserves. When picking condiments, be sure to pair them with the cheeses and meats you have already selected. For example, if you have our Woodland Blue Cheese on your board, make sure to provide some sweet, floral honey.
With all the sweetness of the fruits, jams, preserves, and honey, you absolutely must balance it out with something briny. Try some pickled pepperoncini, pitted Kalamata olives, or stone ground mustard. If you are striving for conversation starters or something different, bacon jam or candied jalapenos are great choices, too.
When it comes time to assembling your board, use a rustic, knotty cutting board and be sure to provide all the necessary utensils. Think about it, you don’t want your guests to show-up and then have to rummage through your pantry to find cheese or spreading knives. The final and absolute touch is to include freshly baked bread and crackers. Be sure to serve these in corresponding baskets, lined with pretty colored, cloth dinner napkins. It is also a good idea to provide gluten-free crackers to ensure all your guests feel welcome.
By putting all of these elements together, and thinking wisely while buying, you can create, not only an appetizing, but also a memorable charcuterie board for your guests and yourself to enjoy!
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If you plan on being more of a guest rather than host, surprise your host with one of our already assembled cheese boards (http://goldcreekfarms.com/product/cheese-board-gift-set/). They will appreciate the help!