There’s a reason why photographers ask you to say cheese before taking a picture – it makes you smile! Well, both saying the word and eating it make me smile. In my opinion, cheese is the eighth Wonder of the World and if there is a cheese spread at any event, you can find me sitting in my own little paradise right next to that table. Over the years and thanks to social media, charcuterie boards have become a staple at any function, and at first glance, it can seem a little overwhelming with all the options, especially when it comes to making your own, but fret no more! Today, I’m going to help you not only build your own board but design it in a way that meets all your needs.
After looking through many design boards for ideas and inspiration, I’ve compiled some of my favorite tips and tricks to help make your perfect charcuterie board for any occasion. No two boards are ever the same, allowing you to pick and choose what ingredients you want! So, whether you are looking to host a large group in the comfort of your home or are on the search for the perfect snack to indulge on the beach with a friend or two, I’m here to help! We would love to see your creations on social media. Feel free to share your boards by using the #SharpHome on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Before preparing your spread, you want to make sure you have a foundation that will support all your ingredients. For larger arrangements, opting for a wooden block or a sheet pan to serve as the platter may be the best. These bases will ensure that they can hold all the weight of your food and can be easily stored and moved when needed. This option is great if you are looking to make your board ahead of time and keep it stashed away until moments before your event.
If you are making a small arrangement that you would like to bring with you, I love using a larger plastic or a to-go food container! When I am making a cheese spread for myself on the go, I choose to use a jar to hold everything. The jars fit perfectly into my purse and lunch bag, so I can always help myself with a quick, delicious snack!
While these are all great foundations, my favorite charcuterie base is the countertop! If you opt for this method, I recommend cleaning the area first and then creating a barrier between the surface and the food with parchment paper. This method is perfect for large at-home gatherings! Whatever you decide to use as your base, make sure it is food safe.
When picking cheeses it can be a ‘dairy’ daunting task, but Wisconsin Cheese has helped me narrow down how to pick the perfect ones!
Each cheese can be broken down into one of the following categories: hard, firm, semi-soft, soft, blue, and crumbly. Through trial and error, along with research, I have found that a great baseline is having one soft cheese, one firm, and one hard. I prefer a combination of brie, Colby, and aged gouda. After the basics are covered, I like to experiment with other cheeses and textures such as manchego, cheddar, goat cheese, and blue cheese!
Once you have narrowed down which cheeses you want, comes the daunting question: how much do I need to buy? As a general rule of thumb, account for at least 2 oz of cheese per person if the spread is for an appetizer. If the charcuterie board is going to be the main attraction, I like to offer at least 5 oz cheese per attendee.
To make my preparation easier, I dedicate an entire drawer in my refrigerator to my cheeses. I dedicate an entire drawer in my Sharp French 4-Door Counter-Depth Refrigerator with Water Dispenser and it has plenty of room! It allows for easy access to all my party-preparation needs. The drawer helps me to keep all my refrigerated ingredients in one place so I don’t have to search for them.
Meet the Meats
The deli section can be overwhelming sometimes. So many items to choose from, and without a plan I know I can be staring at the selection for upwards of 20 minutes! When I first started creating arrangements, I felt like the task of selecting meat was too big to handle until I stumbled upon Cooking with Cocktail Rings. Here, I found different meat options to help me create a board special for every event!
If left unattended, I can easily clear the whole charcuterie platter on accident. Do you blame me? They’re so delicious! My weakness is always the meat spread, especially prosciutto (yum). I find it pairs well with most cheeses and add-ins. Other meats that look good and taste even better are uncured soppressata, capicola, mortadella, and genoa salami. You can either pick up prepackaged meats at the store if you’re in a pinch for time or looking for something easy. I prefer ordering from the deli to ensure that I am getting meats that meet my needs. Ordering meat directly from the deli also allows me to get the exact amount that I am looking for. I typically get 3 oz of meat per person if it is used as just an appetizer, I like to make sure I have enough for everyone when it is the main course find that 6 oz per person is enough.
Bread and Crackers
Polly isn’t the only one who wants a cracker (too cheesy? I know but bear with me)! Now that your selection of meat and cheese is picked out it’s time to decide what you’re going to eat it with. Are you going to opt for a simple sliced baguette or a sea salt cracker? Maybe some artisan crackers? The options are endless, and it comes down to personal preference.
If you are catering to a larger audience, I would offer several options for guests, both basic and bold textures and flavors. When in doubt, I always buy a variety pack of crackers from the store and a baguette. This eliminates the stress of picking out the perfect piece. I like bread and crackers that are not too bold and rich in taste to make sure it doesn’t drown out the flavors of my other ingredients.
Filling the Space
Your board doesn’t have to be boring! Now that the basics are covered, it is time to have some fun. This is where you can really make your board stand out from the rest. Offering different ingredients, such as honey and jam or an array of nuts, will give your board more items to pick from. I love adding fresh fruits and extra virgin olive oil to add more moisture to the food. I also find adding little jars full of olives and other fun foods adds more dimension and depth to the spread! My favorite part about making a charcuterie platter is the customization. I can make a board with as much or as little as I like, and now, so can you!
After you have decided on all the ingredients, let your creativity run wild as you place them on the board. It is important to remember knives and forks to allow your guests to cut their ingredients as they would like. Once your board is set up and you have your ingredients on the board in the style you want, you’re good to go! People can pick away at the board as they please. Not only is this a delicious grazing option, but it is easy and offers something for everyone.
Say cheese! Share pictures of your boards with us on social media by using #SharpHome on social media.