Charcuterie Tips & Tricks

1. Presentation

We all start eating or drinking with our eyes. Choose your vehicle for display wisely! The board matters. Wood or marble are great choice for cheese. Just make sure it is food safe. If choosing wood, use domestic wood, kiln dried, and oiled with mineral oil Tip: If you want to extend the life of your board, to protect the surface of your board, use cheese paper, or wax paper under your cheese and meats. Think about the area you will use to serve or display your charcuterie, and choose the shape of the board, platter or tiered tower accordingly.

2. Select your elements

Choose your design elements. Design choices include color, shape, texture. Select 3-4 cheeses, include a variety but know your audience! Choose some mild, some more flavorful, maybe a blue or goat cheese if your guests enjoy strong flavors. The quality of flavor will be directly enhanced by the quality of the cheese. Cork & Knife carries a large variety of imported cheeses that go beyond the typical! Big flavors and textures can be found in our Aged Gouda, Noord Hollander, Humboldt Fog, and Valdeon Blue. Tip: Blue cheese can be tamed with honey, honeycomb, or a serving of Sauternes!) One Goat Cheese, one Sheep Cheese, one Cow Cheese, plus one Blue Cheese is a classic four cheese presentation. Cheeses should be arranged in order from softest to hardest. Soft cheeses are served in a large wedge or circle with a cheese knife. Tip: crumble bits from a wedge and cut small wedged out of wheel to encourage guests to serve themselves. Some people hesitate to be the first one to cut into a beautifully arranged hunk of cheese.

Choose a selection of cured meats, such as Prosciutto, Salami, Mortadella, dried beef such as Bresaola. Two to four meats. Large round Salami slices, such as Finocchiona or Soppressata make a great meat rose! Tip: Fold slices of salami around the mouth of a small glass opening, such as a champagne flute, in concentric, overlapping circles, turn over and slide the meat out of the glass and on the board, and Voila! Meat rose! Rectangles can be folded in half and bunched into ribbons. Duck Salami and Duck Prosciutto are tasty alternatives to pork. 

Flavor and quality matters! Consider the rest of the meal, or beverages being served. Flavors detected by the tongue include sweet, bitter, sour, salty, meaty (umami), cool, and hot.

Think layers; place large items first, and set apart from each other, typically the cheeses and meats are added first. Between these meat and cheese islands, add crackers, crostini, and gluten-free options such as Almond Crackers. Next place smaller accessory items, some complementary, and contrasting elements. Accessory items include crackers, chips, nuts, fresh and dried fruit, cornichons, mustards, jams, honey. Tip: If you choose to serve olives or dates, best to remove all pits, to avoid surprises! Fill in with sauces served in ramekins; jams, jellies, fig paste, mustards. Be sure to include serving ware, such as cheese knives, and small spoons.

3. Choice!

Variety is the spice of life. Serve up a collection of items, smaller portions = more options. Create the opportunity for your guests to discover unique flavor and texture combinations, such as crunchy/smooth, spicy/savory, stinky/sweet, chewy/juicy. 

Meat and cheese boards are primarily finger foods so remember to provide small plates and napkins.

3. Relax

Relax and have fun with it. There are no hard and fast rules. This is a creative process, and should be unique to the setting, the cook, the event, the guest list. Shop wisely, pick a serving dish, gather your ingredients, pour yourself a glass of wine, and begin!