How To Make The Best Meat And Cheese Tray
I dont know about you, but I believe a charcuterie and cheese board is much more than throwing a few pieces of cheese and cold cuts on a board and serving it with crackers or bread. While that is certainly acceptable, I look at it as a form of art and an opportunity to feed the eyes of your guests before you satisfy their palates.
With that being said, choosing the right combination of wine, cheese, meats, crackers, and other accompaniments takes a little bit of planning, but hopefully, with my tips, it will be an easy one and you will master the art of preparing a gorgeous meat and cheese tray for your guests.
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How To Prepare A Charcuterie Board
If making a small tray for 1-2 people, it will take up to 10 minutes to prep, depending on the number of items that you use. But if you are preparing a large charcuterie board with a wider variety of items like ours, it’ll take about you 30 minutes to prep everything and assemble on the board.
To make the process as simple as possible, do the following:
- Take The Cheeses Out of the Fridge: Before you start to prep any items, remove your cheeses from the fridge to warm up. They not only taste better when close to room temp, but some are also easier to slice, while others such as cream cheese get better to spread.
- Chop the Veggies: Wash and pat dry all the produce. Then either slice or chop the fruits and veggies into bite-size pieces.
- Slice the Meats and Cheeses: If your meat is in log form, for example, thinly slice it into rounds. If they are pre-sliced, pull them apart and then fan or roll them apart for easy spreading on the board. If your cheeses come in brick or ball form, either slice them or cut them into small cubes.
- Gather Other Items: Grab all the other items like jars or packages and leave in a place of easy access to assemble the board.
- Grab the board & utensils: Leave them near the items so you can spread all the ingredients on the board.
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How To Make A Cured Meat And Cheese Platter
Tips For Creating A Grazing Style Charcuterie And Cheese Board
- Mix up the flavours and textures. Go for a hard salami, a soft, rich pâté and perhaps something spicy or tangy like a sausage. Consider also serving hot or cold smoked salmon or trout – but make sure they’re on their own serving dish!
- Add antipasti and condiments. Olives are a must but you should also try nuts for crunch, stuffed mini peppers and of course, plenty of saurkraut or pickles. I also like to have a fresh dip and two or three mixed chutneys to cater for different tastes. See our Chilled Antipast and Olives selection and also our Pantry Shop for pickles, gourmet meats and pates with longer shelflife.
- Serve at room temparature. We will slice your meats in the deli meaning all you need to do is lay it up on the plate and serve at room temparature. Take it out of the fridge at least an hour before you serve.
- Bread or No Bread? I’d always serve it with fresh bread, oatcakes or a selection of savoury biscuits and crackers. If you have a day old sourdough then toast it gently and drizzle with olive oil. I could eat that right now!
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The Best Cheeses To Use
Lets talk cheeses and little plates and dishes you can use. Before I start anything else I like to choose first my board, because that will give me an idea how much I need for my board, second my cheeses and third, little dishes to include.
Like I said above, this is your board so choose your favorite varieties of cheese. Id suggest have at least 3 different cheeses in different shapes and sizes. See my photo above for reference. Keep in mind my board was very large, but I chose 4 cheeses- brie, smoked gouda, blue cheese, Pecorino Romano and a bloc of cream cheese that I added spicy jelly on top.
How To Create A Meat And Cheese Board
Now that you know the basics, lets look in more detail at how to create the perfect charcuterie board for your occasion. Charcuterie recipes are really just about choosing what to include on your board. Everything you choose can be bought pre-prepared, so all you have to do is slice and arrange. The main thing is to choose the very best ingredients for your board.
Lets start by focusing on the essentials: meat and cheese. You cant go wrong making your own meat and cheese board as long as you choose a good variety of delicious meats and cheeses. The question, of course, is which meats and cheeses to include. Even if youre creating a small charcuterie board, we recommend including as much variety as you can, even if it means including a small amount of each element.
Typically, if youre serving your charcuterie as an appetizer, youll want to make sure there is enough for each person to have a few slices of meat and one or two ounces of cheese.
When choosing meats, select some whole muscle cuts and some encased meats. You may also want to include some forcemeats. Whole-muscle cuts are preserved whole and sliced for serving. These meats are best served on a charcuterie board sliced extremely thinly. Encased meats may be served whole or sliced, depending on the size. Forcemeats are uniform mixtures of meat and fat that can add more variety in texture to your charcuterie board.
Some popular examples of charcuterie meats include:
See our ultimate cheese guide for more ideas.
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How To Make A Cheese And Meat Board
Wondering how to make this Charcuterie Board? It’s easy!
Just follow this step-by-step photo tutorial. Then, scroll down for the recipe card for the full ingredients list and recipe method.
Prep the ingredients: Make sure you fully wash and prep any fruit or vegetables. They will be on full display! Then lay them all out so you see what you have to work with.
Cut the cheeses: Cut the cheeses into small pieces or slices depending on the size and shape and how you want them to fit on the board.
Plate the loose ingredients: Arrange any bowls or ramekins on the board first to fill with nuts, olives, jelly, or anything that is loose and needs a place.
Arrange the ingredients: Add cheeses, crackers and meats, spread out decoratively. Add fruits and vegetables around the cheese and crackers to create a fresh look.
Fill in the gaps: Fill in any gaps on the board with nuts, bite-size cookies, or sweet treats. Then place the fresh rosemary around the board to create a pop of green color.
How To Make The Perfect Charcuterie Board
How To Make the Perfect Charcuterie Board
- Sprigs of fresh Rosemary and Thyme
- Brie Cheese Round
- Slicesof good quality pepperoni
- Slicesof Salami
- 1bunch firm red grapes
- 1cupmarinated olivesgot mine in olive bar from grocery store
- 1cupmarinated artichoke hearts
- 1cupsweet peppersalso found in olive bar from grocery store
- Dried Apricots
- Sweet and Spicy deli style sliced pickles
- Mini dill pickles
- Variety of crackersdifferent shapes, sizes and flavors.
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What Is A Charcuterie Board
- Start with a large plate, platter, wooden cutting board, or a piece of slate as the base.
- Choose at least 3 to 5 charcuterie items that represent various styles and textures: smoked and meaty, dry-cured and firm, cooked and creamy. Allow two ounces per person, and slice your charcuterie into easily manageable, bite-sized pieces.
- Spread the pieces out on the board, leaving space between them for accompaniments.
- Add mustard, cornichons, olives, or chutney, so the acidity can balance the fat in the charcuterie. Use small bowls for these items, or just put them on the board with knives for spreading.
- Fresh fruits like grapes, figs, sliced pears and apples, and any dried fruits like raisins, currants, apricots, cherries, and pears will round out the plate, and add color. Use the fruits as palate cleansers between bites of charcuterie.
- Place sliced bread, or various types of crackers, around the edges of the plate, or tuck them between sections of charcuterie.
- Cheese is a welcome addition to a charcuterie plate choose 2 -3 types of different textures to complement the spread.
- Add black truffle butter, which is especially tasty on a slice of bread with saucisson sec.
- A hearty red wine makes a good accompaniment, such as Côtes-du-Rhône, Gigondas or Madiran.
How To Assemble A Charcuterie Board
Watch How To Make It HERE!
Meat And Cheese Boards
When youre ready to build your board, start with the cheese. When Im building a board for at least 5-6 people, I typically use 3 varieties of cheese.
Ideally, there will be a mild, medium, and strong cheese. For my family that could be a mild brie, a medium or sharp cheddar, pepper jack, and a stronger or funkier smelling cheese like Humboldt Fog, stilton, bleu cheese, or goat cheese.
We love Cabots Everything Cheddar and the Unexpected Cheddar from Trader Joes. During the holidays, we especially love the cranberry goat cheese, also from Trader Joes.
For a frugal tip, splurge on a small chunk of your favorite fancy cheese and fill out the rest with the much less expensive brie and cheddar options.
For the meat lovers in my house, this Meat Lovers Cheese Board is always a hit.
For the meat, my favorite thing to buy is the 3-pack of charcuterie meats from Trader Joes. Its super affordable and gives a great variety without breaking the bank.
If there isnt a Trader Joes in your area, just ask at the deli counter for about 3 ounces each of your favorite meats. I also like to pick up one hard salami each time because thats always a favorite with my boys.
You really dont need much meat. Just a little scattering of meats on the board for salty savory bites.
Capocollo, prosciutto, salami , plain old ham, turkey, and roast beef will work as well. Dont be intimidated by all of the choices.
What Is A Charcuterie Board Used For
Charcuterie boards are a type of appetizer that traditionally include cured meats served cold. However, there are many modern takes on the classic charcuterie board, and they often include other appetizer items. A charcuterie is ideal for parties, and theyre often a popular item during the holidays.
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Popular Winter Fruits For Meat And Cheese Board:
Best Charcuterie Board Meats
Im sharing a roundup of the best charcuterie board meats that offer a great balance of taste, texture and flavor. Mix and match as you wish or select one and serve it alongside your favorite cheese. I typically try to choose one or two available cured meats that people are familiar with like prosciutto or sopressata. With a more unique meat you can introduce people to a new taste like jamón Ibérico. In addition, something new can even be a conversation starter at a gathering!
This is in no way an extensive list of all the different types of charcuterie available there are so many varieties within different cuisines. Here are my favorite meats to include on a cheese board. Focusing on those from Europe .
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The Origin And History Of Charcuterie
Charcuterie is derived from the French words for flesh and cooked . The practice of salting and smoking meats to preserve them dates back about 6,000 years to ancient Rome. Charcuterie is rooted in the belief that nothing from the animal should be wasted not even the heart, lungs, kidneys, fat, or brain.
The word was used to describe shops in 15th century France that sold products that were made from pork, including the pigs internal organs. The French created the charcuterie board using offal and other kinds of meat. However, the traditional charcuterie board has come a long way and is becoming increasingly popular in modernfine-dine restaurant menus.