The Top 7 Components to Creating the Best Charcuterie Board
Have you noticed Charcuterie Boards are the hottest ‘new’ trend?
They are fun, they are beautiful and you can’t seem to spend more than 15 minutes on social media without seeing one.
Typically loaded with meats, cheeses and all else that is delicious.
And…my favorite thing about them…you can nosh with one hand and sip your favorite vino with the other. Honestly, charcuterie boards are the ULTIMATE party food, making entertaining easy for the hostess and interactive for the guests.
While charcuterie may be new for some, the concept originated around the 15th century in France. While the process of using salt to cure meats can be traced to the Roman empire a few thousand years ago, charcuterie originally included offal and all aspects of the meat.
I’m not sure how I would have fared at a 15th century French party with entrails and organ meat for dinner but I sure am glad times have changed!
Modern day charcuterie boards are as limited as your imagination. My sweet friend at Mad Platters in Cypress, TX creates boards for EVERY occasion with baseball snack boxes, dessert boards and custom holiday designs.
I’ve learned, you can find any occasion to celebrate with Charcuterie!
Today, I am going to spill the tea on the Top 7 Components you need to create the BEST charcuterie boards.
The Seven Components for Charcuterie Entertaining
This is my FAIL PROOF formula for anything from mini boards to entire table spreads. (Yes, I’ve done it all!)
When planning, I make sure to have a little of each:
- Fruits & Vegetables
- Sauces & Such
- Quick Pickles
While this is not an exhaustive list, it’s certainly a place to get you started. Using this 7 component formula will make entertaining fun and stress free.
Stress free??? Yes, you heard me.
I LOVE to hostess events that:
- Bring People Together.
- Support small, local businesses.
- Support local farms.
- Can be prepared ahead of time so I can spend the DAY of my event relaxing!!!
When The Woodland Hills in Willis, TX asked me to present to their residents for their Fall Taste of the Hills event, I jumped at the chance to talk Meats, Cheeses & More!
First & Foremost
While I am going to talk style a little later, the first thing you want to consider before adding any component is the board itself.
I’m known to use cake plates, wood stumps, serving trays…anything with a flat surface will do! Don’t be intimidated!! It can be as simple as a piece of butcher paper spread over a table top.
Honestly, the magic is in the components but you want to consider how you plan to serve. I LOVE a single board for intimate gatherings but I like to spread things out when my guest list tops 8 people!
Cheese for your Charcuterie Board
Let’s be honest. The cheese is the star of the show.
Most people stick to the philosophy of serving 1 aged, 1 soft, 1 firm and one blue. I call it the ‘Golden Rule of Cheese.’
It’s a great starting point. But, I like to be a little ‘extra’ and choose a theme.
I’ve seen several varieties of a specific cheese (think cheddar!) with a tasting themed around choosing your favorite region.
You could explore different types of milk cheese, emphasizing the taste of each- cow, goat, sheep…I had NO IDEA that I would love sheep milk until a tasting like this.
The idea is to give your guests an experience.
Part of that experience is knowing each cheese you are serving and WHY you chose each of them.
Fortunately, Houston has the coolest cheese shop in the center of town. The owner of Houston Dairymaids, Lindsey, is one of the most knowledgeable cheese mongers I know. It is part of her mission to support small dairy farms and connecting their community to ours.
Since I am ALL ABOUT LOCAL, I thought a Texas theme would be best for my event at Woodland Hills.
For my event, I chose the following cheeses:
This pasture-raised Jersey Cow milk Cheddar creates a moist, mild and smooth cheese. This firm cheese is slightly sweet with a nutty flavor. If you were following the ‘Golden Rule’ of cheese pairings, this would serve as your firm.
I LOVE that this family farm is so conscious about their soil. Healthy soil is the foundation of their product. Their animals graze in an area where no chemicals or insecticides are used. These stewards of the land use practices that conserve water and the earth’s natural microbes while producing a product of superior quality.
First, the name was cool enough for me to take pause.
Lira Rossa’s Texas take on a French-style semi-soft camembert style cheese is pasteurized and; then, aged for 4 weeks. The result is a bloomy rind cheese with a delicate flavor. Not only is this your aged cheese, it also doubles as a soft.
The folks at Dapper Goat have been selling their cheeses into local farmers markets for a few years now. I had the pleasure of meeting them at the Tomball Framers Market. Their fresh chevre is made with milk from the goats on their farm. It has the creamy mouthfeel we all love from a true Goat Cheese. The simplicity of the pasteurized milt, salt, cheese culture and vegetable rennet can be tasted in it’s clean, tangy flavor.
While they have a variety of flavors, I chose their plain for it’s simplicity and flexibility it lends to a cheese board. A drizzle of honey, some black pepper and a sprinkle of dried herbs are all that is needed to transform this cheese into magic!
(I also like it stuffed into pickled peppadew peppers! Or, stuffed into figs and drizzled with honey.)
This blue is made in the style of French blue cheese but with Texas Milk. This cheese is aged for 60-90 days and offers complexity. The aroma of toasted biscuits begs for this cheese to be paired with my homemade pomegranate chutney.
I like using this cheese as my blue option. It’s smooth and unique. Even those who claim not to like blue cheeses will enjoy the Whey Blue.
It is made by Susan Rigg, a Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio. She, too, takes pride in Texas soil and believes Texas grasses make the greatest milk and it is her job to make great cheese! She notes that River Whey Creamery is “not just farm to table (but also) earth to soul.”
You can find the TX Gold, C’Mon Berto & Whey Blue at Houston Dairymaids. While you are there, enjoy a cheese tasting and a variety of cheeses from all over the world. Of special note is our friends, Pure Luck Dairy. The June’s Joy is a TOP FAVORITE in our household.
If you want to REALLY nerd out on cheese…this link will tell you ALL you want to know- and more!
Meat for your Charcuterie Board
Meat is a MUST for your Charcuterie board.
The options are truly limitless. Salami, prosciutto, soppresata, chorizo, mortadella…summer sausage, smoked sausage, peppered sausage.
(See what I mean?)
I typically pick (2) higher end meats to serve. One of those meats is ALWAY Soppresata so I can make Chips!
Years ago, I found an amazing recipe for Soppresata Chips on Pinterest. I cannot seem to locate the recipe any longer but it’s so incredibly easy.
- 1/2 Pound Soppresata from the deli Sliced into 1" rounds
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Lay Soppresata on sheet with edges barely touching- careful not to overlap.
- Bake for 7 minutes. Flip and continue for another 3-5 minutes depending upon your oven.
- NOTE: Pay attention at the 7 minute mark. These can burn quickly. Adjust any cooking times to your needs.
- Let cool and serve immediately.
- To store, line with paper towels and store in an airtight bag or container.
Local Pasture Raised Summer Sausage
If you are lucky enough to live in the Houston area, 3 Sister Farms is a small family farm dedicated to high quality pork & chicken. Ever year, she makes this incredible Summer Sausage that freezes well and tastes delicious! I usually grab an extra one and store so I have something on hand at all times.
In sticking with our local, Texas theme, this was the obvious choice! If you can’t find local summer sausage, your local deli will have plenty to offer. Find what you like and go for it!!
Fruits & Vegetables for your Charcuterie Board
Grapes, berries & strawberries are the most common additions but don’t let that confine you.
What is in season? Consider adding oranges, grapefruit, pomegranate. This season, I added persimmons to add a fall vibe.
Red Bell Peppers & Chevre’ topped with Anything but the Bagel seasoning is fantastic and adds a fresh crunch to your dusplay!
Carbs for your Charcuterie Board
Crackers, Bread, Breadsticks. Throw a little carb on your board!
Over the years, I’ve learned that digestive sensitivity has become more common. Consider making these homemade crackers to WOW your guests with flavor and help to reduce on over processed additions. They are quick, easy and delicious!
Think of your carbs as your filler. You would probably only eat 1 slice of bread and not the whole loaf…think of the same concept with your creation.
The very BEST Sauces and Such
A trend that I am loving the MOST is the addition of hummus and dips.
Tzatziki, baba ghanoush, chutneys, hummus…any dip will do! This addition will allow you to sneak some heart healthy veggies into your display. This is a thoughtful way to support your vegetarian friends while bulking up your board with good for you deliciousness.
I choose (2) dips to feature. These tend to bring the (ah!) factor so I always prepare them homemade. A good staple in Houston is a poblano hummus or a plain hummus with a sauce. People will certainly ask for the recipe so have it on hand (or, send in a thank you email with the link to your guests after the party to thank them for attending.)
Fall is the perfect time to make my Pumpkin Hummus! This recipe is easy, delicious and is sure to start some conversation!
Quick Pickles for your Charcuterie Board
You’ve got to have some acid on your Charcuterie board to help cut the saltiness of the meats and cheese you will be serving. Gherkin pickles, olives and pickled peppers are a great choice. This weekend, I attended a girl’s trip where the hostess stuffed prosciutto into pickled green peppadew. It was a delicious twist!
When possible I like to make my version of chutney. Since persimmons were in season for my event at The Woodland Hills, I was able to make this delicious Persimmon Chutney! It’s tart, tangy and sweet.
- Chop 1 onion and mince (2) cloves garlic. Sautee in 1 TBSP Avocado oil.
- Add roughly chopped persimmons and cook down until skins release. (At this point, you could use scissors or a Pampered Chef Meat Chopper. (Trust me, it’s an essential tool in my kitchen!)
- Add 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and 1/4 cup honey and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Allow to cool and serve at room temperature or chilled.
Style your Board- Go a little NUTTY!
Last, but not least…pull it all together. Adding flowers and fresh herbs is always a must. The finishing touches should reflect a little of you, a little of the season and a little of the event.
I always finish with chocolate and some nuts. Our friends at Old 300 Ranch smoked fresh almonds for the event and they are AMAZING!!! There is something about knowing these nuts are being smoked by local artesians that makes them next level. Not to mention the smoky, salty crunch. Seriously, buy some, they are delicious!
Adding a little sweet to your set up is a MUST.
I was able to get some Texas pecans from Stonewall, TX so I decided to make a chocolate bark.
It’s so simple, it’s not much of a recipe:
- One pound shelled and halved pecans, roughly chopped.
- 2 Dark Cholate Bars
- 1 Fresh Orange to zest.
Place roughly chopped pecans on a piece of parchment paper.
Melt chocolate bars over low heat and drizzle over pecans making sure to coat all of the pecans.
Zest fresh orange peel over bark & allow to chill.
Once chilled, break into bark and serve!
Resources for Entertaining with Charcuterie
Cheeses & Meats
Houston DairyMaids. Houston, TX. For allllll of the Cheeses.
(Each cheese I used is linked above!)
Three Sister Farms. Tomball, TX
Old 300 Ranch. Look no further than Old 300 Ranch for artesian sausage and specialty items. Their Seasonal Smoked Almonds are amazing!! I LOVE the fact that this family run farm is, literally, smoking my order for me. It adds a personal touch that you just CANT get with store bought.
Styling Tips- Boards & More!
Jane Style. She’s amazing! Find her on Facebook for brilliant ideas when it comes to all things eating family style. She also has a group where members share their inspirations and more! Jane’s designs certainly pull a party together!
For those who prefer to purchase:
The Bomb Noms, an expert in all things Keto, sells her Charcograms to go. Creative and classy, Chef Cassandra supports all things local. With a keto option available, her boxes have something for everyone!
If you are local to Cypress and Katy, Michelle with Mad Platters is your girl. With everything from snack packs to breakfast boards, she customizes a board to suit any occasion.
Tips for Entertaining with Charcuterie
One month before your party
- Choose your theme and your guest list.
- Contact your local cheese shop to see what they have in stock (and, what they can order.)
- Find out the date your order needs to be placed by and mark it on your calendar.
One week before your party
- Confirm your guest list.
- Order wine, cheese, etc.
- Order flowers.
- Determine set up and Style.
One Day before your Party
- Prepare your Sauces & Such.
- Prepare (or, purchase) Quick pickle.
- Plan your set up & location.
- Shop & Purchase what you need!
- Cook Soppresata Chips
- Defrost Summer Sausage from 3 Sister Farms.
One Hour before Entertaining
- Set out Cheese and Meat.
- Pour some wine (or mock tail.)
- Greet your guests.
- Relax and know all of the hard work is done and you can enjoy a stress free evening!
I would LOVE to see your SHOWSTOPPING displays! Please let me know what you think by tagging your designs @flourishingfern on Social Media.