A charcuterie tray is the perfect way to entertain because they are social by nature: everyone will want to gather around while they customize the perfect bite-size delight. These sophisticated snack trays are overflowing with flavor and color, from smoky cured meats, to rich local cheeses, and sweet dressings and jams. Charcuterie is so gorgeous that it might seem impossible to make, but these no-bake boards are actually effortless crowd pleasers. Here’s how to build a board that will keep your guest coming back.
- Don’t overthink it. Picture-perfect charcuterie boards have a spontaneous beauty to them because they are just that: spontaneous. If you are a seasoned cook who likes to get creative in the kitchen, now is the time to put your plating skills to the test, layering tastes and textures to your liking. Beginners in the kitchen may be tempted to search for layouts on Pinterest, but challenge yourself to make this board your own.
- Begin with the board. The size of your board will determine how much you can fit there. Cutting boards, slate boards, and even marble slabs are great for larger gatherings, or go with a flat plate for a party of one.
- Choose your meats and cheeses. Layer on the cured meats, like prosciutto, salami, and pepperoni, keeping in mind that you should have about three slices per person. Picking meats which come in different shapes is an easy way to add interest to your board. Having three textures of cheeses will cover all your bases. Look for a soft, creamy cheese, like brie or bruschetta, a crumbly cheese, like goat cheese or manchego, and a hard cheese, like cheddar or smoked gouda.
- Bring on the bread. Get creative with your carbs by adding stacks of crackers, artisanal toasts, or flatbreads to the board, or work in gluten-free options like rice crackers and cheese crisps. Don’t forget to have refills ready to go!
- Add your extras. Once most of your platter is filled, it’s time to take your charcuterie to the next level with tons of delicious toppings. Fill small bowls with wet items, like olives, jams, honey, or small pickles, then cover the board’s nooks and crannies with dried fruits, nuts and seeds, and fresh herbs. Consider what’s in season, so reach for fennel, carrots, and clementines in the Winter, and opt for fresh berries, grapes, and peach slices in the Summer. Incorporating wooden pics and small forks into the display offers easy access to all the ingredients.
Chef Lynn Michelle has mastered the art of charcuterie, and can help you design the perfect tray for your next backyard gathering, romantic date night, or to enjoy by yourself. Be sure to snap a picture before it’s all gone, because these beautiful boards never last long.