Here is my guide for making the perfect charcuterie board.
- Meat: The meat needs to be the star of the show — the word “charcuterie” refers to the preparation of the meats. Don’t skimp out on quality here, look for specially prepared sausage and deli-meat and go for a variety of interesting flavours. Choose at least one fairly spicy meat, something milder, and a couple of things in between. Aim for traditional charcuterie varieties like dry-cured salami, prosciutto, chorizo or bresaola I’d also add an assortment of sausage, such as chorizo or saucisson sec (dried sausage). Sopressata, mortadella & salami (Italian), chorizo (Spanish), saucisson sec (French). A lot of people also love thin sliced roast beef. You don’t have to go crazy, but make sure you have enough meat for all of your guests (about 55 to 85 g per person) and enough variety to keep everyone happy. Figure that you’ll need about two to three ounces of meat per person, plus the additional accompaniments. And don’t forget a good red wine to go with it: Burgundy would go best.
- Cheese: Again, the keys here are quality and variety. Choose both cheeses that are mild enough to complement the meat and those that are strong enough to be eaten on their own. Have at least one soft cheese and one harder cheese and make sure you include something blue.
- Breads: This is the last absolute must-have: you need a vehicle for the meats and cheese to find their way to your mouth. Fresh sliced baguette is a good choice, as are artisanal crackers with fruit or nuts baked in — though make sure the flavour of the crackers won’t overpower the other ingredients.
- Condiments: Make sure you have some mustard or a great berry jam on hand. Depending on the meat, I may have some horseradish or antipasto dip on the board. Stone-ground or Dijon mustard is also much loved. I used little ceramic bowls that I picked up at Dollarama. They look cool and work perfectly.
- Olives and pickles: We are not a big olive family but olives and pickles make a great addition to a charcuterie board. When it comes to pickles, super high quality cornichons are my favourite.
From there, feel free to put anything sweet or savoury on your platter that will draw out flavours in the meat and cheese. I’ve added some nuts, slices of pear and apple and even some chocolate to mine.
Once you are done, pour a couple of glasses of wine and take your time while eating. It’s designed to be eaten slowly and with friends so enjoy.