Do It Yourself

7 Tips For Making the Perfect Charcuterie Board

Yes, there is such a thing as too much cheese.

By Shelby Stewart and Geneva Diaz Published in the Fall 2022 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Clockwise from top left, fresh Chevre from Pure Luck Farms in Dripping Springs, Texas, Prosciutto “Galloni” and Salami Toscano from B&B Butcher’s, C’Mon Berto a Brie-like cheese hails from Italian creamery Lira Rossa in Moulton, Texas, Texas Gold Cheddar from Veldhuizen Cheese Shoppe in Dublin, Texas, and sweet and spicy Soppressata is a sophisticated salami from B&B Butchers.

Image: Courtney West

Charcuterie boards are essentially just an evolved childhood snack—like a luxurious Lunchables—which is partly what makes them such a treat to compile and enjoy. The fun is in the variety: diversify textures with cheese, meat, and crackers while mixing flavors with spreads, fruit, and herbs. As you experiment, use these general guidelines to keep your board from going overboard.

1. Use the perfect board. For small groups, you can get away with using something as simple as a cutting board or serving tray. If you’re having a big party, a larger board will greatly improve your presentation and functionality—get creative and test out a large slate board or even a pizza peel, which has a nice handle for moving the board around the party. 

2. Choose cheeses with a range of flavors and textures. Pick at least two to three cheeses, ideally from a local specialty shop like Houston Dairymaids in the Heights, selected from distinct categories: firm, soft, aged, and blue. To really get into the spirit of fall, go with a combo like Manchego (hard), Brie (soft), Stilton (blue), and a spreadable cranberry goat cheese to send it over the top.

3. Serve 2 ounces of charcuterie per person. Approximating how much meat to serve per person is a great way to avoid overspending or underbuying. Not everyone will eat 2 ounces of meat, but someone is sure to eat less (vegans, for example), and someone is sure to eat more.

4. Don’t forget the baguette! While crackers, crostini, and pretzels are a must, don’t overlook the appeal of a freshly sliced baguette. Put it in the oven just before serving to add something warm to the board.

5. Add something fresh and herbal. Use seasonal fruits like apples, figs, pomegranate, grapes, and cranberries to give your board a festive feel. Add herbs such as basil and sage to bring some color and aromatics to the plate.

6. It’s all about diversity. When creating the perfect board, the possibilities are endless. Garnish the board with cornichons, nuts, and jams to give your guests plenty of options. Pair dry cured salami with smokier sliced meats to incorporate different flavors, and drizzle honey or olive oil on one of your cheeses to tickle your guests’ palates. And for the finishing touch, sprinkle the board with ground black pepper and flaky sea salt.

7. Pair with wine, sangria, or both. If you’ve followed the tips thus far, the variety on your board means that there are endless opportunities when pairing a beverage. Create a batch of white or red sangria for a festive party, or go with a classic full-bodied red wine like tempranillo.

 

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