Charcuterie is so much more than a cheese plate. It’s a blank canvas where you can assemble fine cheeses, cured meats, and complementary side dishes. It’s also the perfect centerpiece for a party, whether you’re hosting a classy dinner or a casual sports hangout.
In this handy guide, we’ve shared how to make a charcuterie board that impresses your guests with sophisticated flavors. We’ve also outlined what you’ll need to prepare and present the charcuterie properly, how to pick your meats and cheeses, and more.
What is Charcuterie?
Pronounced “shahr-coo-tuh-ree”, charcuterie is a cooking style that showcases prepared meats, including cured ham, bacon, and confit. The name means “pork butcher shop” in French, but today’s charcuterie boards have a wide variety of meats, cheeses, breads, and other accompaniments.
What You’ll Need to Create a Charcuterie
Before you stock up on ingredients for your charcuterie board, you’ll need to invest in a few kitchen utensils and gear. Here are our top recommendations:
- Petite Serving Utensils: Charcuterie is known for its delicate utensils, which are used to assemble cheese/crackers, spread pate onto bread, and pick up meats. Often, these utensils are decorated with gold and silver accents. We recommend buying enough forks, spoons, and spreaders for multiple people to enjoy the charcuterie board at the same time.
- Slicer Knife: There are so many specialty knives in the culinary world, and if you’re serving charcuterie at a restaurant level, you’ll need a few slicer knives. There are incredible knives designed for slicing bread, fish fillets, cooked meats, and other foods.
- Wooden Serving Board: This type of presentation is extremely popular in restaurants today for many dishes, but wooden boards are ideal for charcuterie. Thin slices of meat and cheese won’t stick to the textured wood, like they do with a porcelain plate. They also provide a larger canvas, where you can arrange the various accoutrements. Note: if a wood board is “not food safe”, make sure to sand it with sandpaper and then rub it with mineral oil before use.
- Melamine Serving Board: As an alternative to all-wood display boards, you might want to check out melamine boards as well. Crafted with hard organic plastic, these beautiful serving boards are dishwasher safe, anti-bacterial, and they look like premium marble slabs. It’s perfect for showcasing your terrines, rillettes, and other spreads. When it’s time for clean-up, just give the board a quick hand wash and then throw it in the dishwasher.
How to Pick Your Meats and Cheeses
Typically, you’ll find these foods on a charcuterie board:
- Cured meats (like ham)
- Spreads (like pate and chutney)
- Crackers and sliced bread
- Dried fruit