Charcuterie boards are filled to the brim with a fantastically diverse range of ingredients, a fine selection of food that’s sure to be a hit in any scenario.
The boards include cold-cooked meats, a range of cheeses, warm rustic bread, sweet and savory condiments such as jams, spreads, pickles, nuts, and dried or fresh fruit.
People often enjoy the board with an alcoholic beverage such as wine or beer, with prosecco and champagne being particularly complementary to the range of flavors across the board.
What Does Charcuterie Mean?
Charcuterie comes from the French words for flesh (chair) and cooked (cuit) and it means a store selling cold, cooked meats. The word was used in 15th Century France to describe stores that sold products that were made from pork.
The correct English pronunciation is “shahr-Koo-tuh-ree” whilst the correct French pronunciation is “shar-coo-tree”.
How Long Have Humans Been Eating Bread?
Bread has been an important part of humans’ diets for millennia, until recent times it was believed bread had been eaten for 10,000 years.
However, a 2018 study by the University of Copenhagen Archaeological Research Group in the Black Desert, Jordan, uncovered evidence of bread made 14,400 years ago!
The bread chosen for a charcuterie board plays a significant role in the dining experience. The bread and crackers are used as carriers, as they serve as a vessel to take the delicious ingredients from the board to your taste buds.
Like with all aspects of a well-balanced charcuterie board, it’s essential to provide a variety of bread and/or crackers, including both soft and hard options, that allows for a variety of taste and textures.
With such a mouth-watering and diverse range of bread available, how on earth can one decide? Read on as we examine some of the most tempting, yummy, and enticing bread to include on your charcuterie board.
How Much Bread Should Be Included?
The idea of ‘two bread and two crackers’ is a popular approach taken by many, though it is in no way a rule or expectation for the board.
This provides a strong variety of carriers for the delicious ingredients of the board, whilst also ensuring that there is a varied range of textures, aromas, and flavors amongst the carriers themselves.
Of course, if one has the finances, time, and space, they might consider adding a whole feast of bread varieties! This is especially the case for social events with more attendees and therefore more hungry mouths!
Which Breads Should Be Included?
Bread comes in all sizes, shapes, colors, aromas, and textures, allowing you to thoroughly have fun and be creative when selecting the bread for your board.
Soft bread works well with soft cheeses and spreads, whilst it fantastically soaks up the flavors of the delicious condiments.
Hard bread adds a little crunch to the occasion and serves as a great carrier for the cold-cooked meats on the board, whilst crackers are perfect for a bite-size slither of meat, cheese, or dip.
Unlike mass-produced bread, artisan bread is handmade by highly skilled bakers. These artisans create fresh and scrumptious delights that are best eaten immediately after baking.
Offering both sweet and savory options, you can balance and complement the salty cheese and meats.
Try savory options such as garlic and Parmesan, rosemary and olive oil, or cheesy crusted loaves. Sweet favorites include cinnamon and raisin, cranberry, or orange.
Rustic bread is a term generally attributed to bread that is usually not shaped in a pan during the baking process.
Typically, it will be made of flour, water, salt, and yeast. The loaves customarily have heavy and thick crusts with soft, open, and airy textures.
Ciabatta has an extraordinarily soft and chewy texture, with almost honeycomb-like holes through the soft loaf. As it is made from lean yeast dough, there is no fat present, this is what gives it the chewy texture and delightfully contrasting crispy crust.
Absolutely everything on the board will be a perfect accompaniment to a fresh ciabatta. They have an incredibly absorbent nature, so they complement the range of condiments on the board, as well as being incredible with meats and cheeses.
As well as being delicious when fresh out of the oven, when sliced and toasted they work as fantastic carriers.
Sourdough is a marvelous addition to any charcuterie board (or any other occasion!) due to its unique flavor, being low in gluten, and its health benefits.
Studies have shown that it acts as a prebiotic, empowering the “good” bacteria in your stomach and aiding a healthy digestive system.
It is due to its natural fermentation that the bread gains its unique sour flavor, which pairs well with the salty and sweet flavors of the charcuterie board’s ingredients.
Perhaps best known for its nickname of “the French stick”, it is a truly iconic bread, known around the world for its distinctive long shape and a golden-brown color.
Delicious fresh out of the oven when you can crack it open to release the rich aromas, sturdy crusts contrast and complement the warm and soft center.
They are also tasty when toasted, their rugged nature serving them well as great carriers for the food.
Multigrain bread has become all the rage, with outstanding textures, rich flavors, and a diverse array of additional ingredients.
Eating bread made from two or more types of grain opens up a stellar range of flavors, including rye, whole grain, whole wheat, barley, flax, millet, and oats.
Many loaves are covered with fantastic seeds such as pumpkin, flaxseed, sesame, quinoa, and sunflower seeds. Not only are these absolutely loaded with goodness, but they also bring extra crunch to each bite.
Many people have adopted a gluten-free diet in their quest for improved health, as well as in an attempt to treat several medical conditions and dietary complications.
Eating gluten-free can ease digestive symptoms, improve energy levels, help weight loss and reduce chronic inflammation.
If any of your dinner guests require gluten-free options, there is now a wide range available, though you may wish to go this route to improve your own health and wellbeing.
Although perhaps not as alluring or appetizing as freshly baked bread, crackers still have their strengths and are a fine addition to any charcuterie board.
There’s a mighty impressive selection of crackers available, with differing textures, ingredients, and flavors. They work as fantastic carriers for preserves and spreads, whilst they also provide the perfect platform for a tiny taster of the board’s ingredients.
They are also less filling than bread, so won’t fill you up before you’ve had a chance to sample the varied delights on offer!
Charcuterie boards are a truly magnificent meal to enjoy with friends and family. Everyone can sample an incredible variety of ingredients, textures, aromas, and flavors during a communal dining experience.
Sharing food, embracing happiness, and creating memories. This article highlights some of the delicious kinds of bread that you might wish to use on your next charcuterie board.
From cinnamon and raisin to sourdough, the spectacular range of options is extraordinary. Be brave, be adventurous, try something new and delve into the world of the charcuterie board!