first seeing the word charcuterie, some people light up while others
look puzzled trying to decipher how to even pronounce the word. But whether it
is called charcuterie or antipasto, a meat and cheese board, or appetizer
spread, one thing is for sure - it is delicious. The French and Italians have mastered the
art and have been making these as a first course (or entrée) for centuries, but
all that is needed to make a really great platter is a little balance and flow
and lots of variety.
Charcuterie is a French term that translates to a process in which meat
is cured, but it is also is used to describe a delectable spread of cured or
dry-aged meats and cheese paired with a multitude of offerings. This assortment
provides the opportunity to mix and match flavors that best suit a range of
palates and preferences. While assembling a tray seems like a pretty simple
thing, there is indeed an art to this wildly popular dish that seems to be
popping up on everyone’s Instagram and newsfeed.
secret weapon for a stunningly epic spread is variety. Just as the board
should touch on each of the five senses, each of the taste buds should be
awakened as well. This means using a beautiful assortment of color, texture,
and smell while providing something that covers salty, sweet, savory, bitter,
and sour. Luckily, knocking this out of the park is not that difficult, and
many of the ingredients are standard items found in most kitchens.
with two to three meat options as the culinary center of the board’s flavor
profile. A savory Genoa Salami is always a safe staple to include as it is
favored by almost everyone. To keep spicy-loving friends happy, throw in some thinly
sliced Capicollo (Capocollo) or Sopressata to the mix, both of which come in
sweet or hot, and add another element of texture by including a peppered
salami. Impress guests by choosing a salty dry-aged meat like Bresaola,
Prosciutto, or Speck. Give height and dimension to the spread by folding the
meat into fours or bunching it for a different texture.
#1: Adding Pate, Foie Gras, or duck confit will wow your guests by bringing in
more unique, gourmet forms of meat that are not familiar to everyone.
Next, move to the cheese options - it is hard to go wrong with what
cheese to select, but a good rule of thumb is to have a soft, semi-soft, and
hard option. Take that to the next level by doing a little research and pick
within each form of dairy, meaning a cow’s milk, a sheep’s milk, and a goat’s
milk. This extra step will again be an exciting talking point while guests
marvel over your masterpiece.
creaminess of a classic Brie, or a little more potent Port Salut are staples to
many charcuterie boards as they are fantastic spreading cheeses. Remember to
think of the color wheel when selecting cheese.
Brie, Havarti, Swiss, and Manchego are all crowd favorites, they do not have
much aesthetic variety. Add pops of color with a marbled port wine cheddar or a
shamrock-green marbled Sage derby. Another delicious semi-soft option to
include is something smoked whether mozzarella, Gouda or cheddar.
selecting a hard cheese, think back to your other choices - were they salty,
sweet, nutty? Choose something hard that covers flavors you have not yet
included. Some options include Manchego, pecorino, Asiago, winey goat, and
Pro-tip #2: Keep your cheese in solid pieces and let your guests cut off
the block themselves. This is visually appealing and cuts back on prep time.
the fun part (well, the other fun part) - the filler. This is the most fun to
prep because you can pick almost anything you like to snack on.
bets are an assortment of olives, grapes, cornichons (baby pickles), berries,
or melons (whichever is in season), mixed nuts, dried fig or apricot, and
artichoke. How large you want the spread will determine the amount of fillers
added, but also, a little of a lot makes for a fun dining experience, too.
and most overlooked ingredients on the board are gourmet condiments such as
chutneys, confits, mustards, and honey.
#3: A huge chunk of golden honeycomb adds texture, color, and sweetness to the
board that takes it to the next level.
assembling the charcuterie, it is easy to get overwhelmed with where to put the
items, so just remember - there is no wrong answer. Suggested placement for
certain items such as the nuts and honeycomb, or the mustard and artichoke tend
to be with the other items they complement.
example, place Brie by the honeycomb, fruit, and nuts, while keeping the
olives, artichoke, and ramekin of mustard by your salami. Weave in grapes on
the vine through the middle to make a barrier between sections or use crackers
to the same effect.
keep your meats separated from each other, as well as your cheese offerings.
This adds to the visual dynamic of the board, and if one of your guests really
enjoyed ‘the meat that was next to the green cheese’ you will remember what it
#4: Remember to keep crackers or crostini away from wet items to avoid
Shop Local to Build a Charcuterie Board
large platter will work, but the island has several shops where you can pick up
a nice board. Gracie’s (2228 Strand) has
customizable marble, bamboo, and slate options that range from $25-40. The
Admiralty (2221 Strand) also carries a board
and knife set for about $25. The Kitchen Chick (2402 Market St.) is a go-to spot for all
culinary hardware; they carry everything you need for a beautiful set - board,
knives, and ramekins.
comes to what to put on the trays, Maceo Spice and Import Company (2706 Market St.) is
a great start with knowledgeable staff to help guide you in picking almost
everything you need for the tray. Kroger is another great stop to pick up some
unique crackers and jams, and they have a well-stocked specialty cheese
department (located between the bakery and produce sections).
love to see what you create! Show us your creations by tagging us on Facebook,
Instagram or Twitter using hashtag: #galvestonmonthly #cookinlikeconcetta