Putting together your first charcuterie board is an exciting moment. A good charcuterie board is a feast for the eyes and the taste buds, and they make the perfect centerpiece for a spread.
But when you go to prepare your charcuterie board, you might find yourself hesitating. Your cheeses are delicious,
your meats are carefully sliced, and you have all the additions to make your board sing. So, how do you go about placing your food?
Don’t worry, placing food on a charcuterie board isn’t as intimidating as it seems. With a few tips and tricks, you can put together a charcuterie board that looks just as good as it tastes.
What Food Goes On A Charcuterie Board?
A charcuterie board is a mouthwatering mixture of sweet and salty flavors, combining cured meats, soft and sharp cheeses, ripe fruits and vegetables, fresh breads, and crackers.
There’s plenty of room for experimentation, and the best charcuterie boards have pickles, jams, mustards, and dips, to add extra variety.
Complementary textures and flavors come together to create a board you just can’t resist getting your hands on.
You can pick your own favorites to build your charcuterie board, but the staples should be meats and cheeses. Cured meats such as salami and prosciutto sit alongside cheeses of all kinds, from smooth brie to sharp Parmesan.
Have A Plan
Begin by planning what you want to go on your charcuterie board, including dips and sauces. There will be some room for you to add and remove as you go,
but it’s best to have the basic design in place before you start. If nothing else, be sure of exactly what you want to go on your board.
Cut In Advance
Once you’ve got on a roll with arranging, you don’t want to have to stop just to cut up some more slices of Swiss. Have everything prepared in advance, even if that means keeping a few things in the refrigerator.
Food on a charcuterie board should be cut small, so guests can pick things up easily. Cheeses should be sliced, cubed, or crumbled. Long slices of meat should be thin and folded. Don’t forget to slice tomatoes, vegetables, and fruits.
Use Folds And Rolls For Height And Visual Appeal
Laying your cured meats down flat will quickly fill up a charcuterie board, and it won’t look very good. Instead, folds and rolls can be used to give the board height, add visual appeal, and ensure everything is easy access.
Before you start folding, consider the physical attributes of the meat. Something that’s thickly sliced won’t fold easily, while delicate meats might fall apart if you try to create a flower.
The Quarter Fold
Fold in half, and then in half again, to create a triangle shape. This has height, but doesn’t take up too much space. A quarter fold works with a whole range of meats, and is incredibly easy.
The ribbon is best for long and thin slices of meat, such as prosciutto. Fold the meat in half lengthwise.
Then create the ribbon shape but using cascading folds, back and forth. There’s room for some experimentation here, to fit the contours of your board.
The flower looks complicated, but is surprisingly simple. Start by taking three or four slices of the same meat. Lay them next to each other, overlapping halfway. Fold all the slices in half,
lengthwise. Gently roll the fold from the right to the left, until you have a wrap.
A slightly more complex way to make a rose requires a shot glass, and roughly eight slices of meat. Lay your slice of meat halfway over the edge of the glass.
Fold one half down the outside of the glass, and the other half inside the glass. Place another slice overlapping the first by one third, and repeat the folding motion.
Keep going, until there’s no more room in the middle. Turn your glass over, and gently remove your rose.
Start With The Big Items
Put any dishes on first, or there won’t be room for them later. If you plan on using several dishes, it’s okay to leave a few to the side.
Next add the big cheeses, and then the meats. Everything else will fill in the gaps, but it’s hard to squeeze on the brie when you’ve already arranged the grapes. Breads and crackers go last, for the easiest access.
Place complementing food items together, to help guests quickly work out what goes with what. On a similar note,
avoid putting anything that might be overpowering or smelly too close to delicate items. In other words, think carefully before putting your blue cheese down.
Think about color combinations as well. Pale cheese, next to pale meat, next to pale cheese will look boring. Use fruits and other additions to bring some color.
How Do You Place Food On A Charcuterie Board?
- Chop everything in advance of starting. Foods should be small, and easy for your guests to pick up.
- Place the bowls first. Otherwise, you’ll struggle to fit them in later. Off-center typically looks best, and allows you to build up visual interest.
- Place the cheeses. Space them around the board, leaving plenty of room for meats. Slices of cheese arranged around bowls can help them to blend in with the board. Use a spatula to lift soft cheese or crumbled cheese onto your charcuterie board.
- Position the meats. Using folds, ribbons, and flowers, place the meats around the board. Small sliced meats, such as salami, can be layered. Use different folds in different places. Flowers are a good way to add height. Fill in gaps next to cheeses, and keep matching flavors close. To keep pre-prepared folds in place, use a spatula to lay the meat down.
- Add your fruits and vegetables. These can be used to fill in gaps, while the bright colors really liven up the board. If meats and cheese are starting to blend in, some colorful fruits can create a separation.
- Place breads and crackers. These go on last because you don’t want guests digging around to get to them. And as the evening goes on, they’re easy to refresh.
- Any gaps? Fill them! Dried fruits and nuts look fantastic here, and add a little pop of interest. Or you can fill gaps with utensils such as toothpicks.
- The last step is to fill the bowls you placed at the start, and get ready to serve!
- If you’re getting your board ready in advance, cover it with foil and keep it refrigerated. Avoid adding breads, crackers, dried fruits, and nuts until the last minute.
Putting together a charcuterie board is fun and easy. With a plate full of meat and cheese, it’s pretty hard to go wrong.
But if you aren’t happy with the arrangement, it’s okay to mix things up until you’ve found a visual design that works.
Just avoid using your hands too much. Spatulas, tongs, and cake knives are handy implements for quickly redesigning a charcuterie board.
Once you’ve made your first charcuterie board, you’ll see just how easy it is to place the food. The trick is to mix things up, and think about complementing flavors and colors.
And don’t get upset when all your hard work is immediately destroyed! Guests won’t be able to resist getting stuck into your charcuterie board.