Charcuterie - Made with PosterMyWall

Want to impress your guests without the hassle of cooking or tons of prep work? Then a Charcuterie (pronounced: Char-Cu-Te-Rie) Board is the answer! This awesome presentation comes from the French word: Chaircutier meaning Butcher Shop and Chair Cuite meaning cooked meats. Charcuterie is not new, in fact, it dates back hundreds of years when refrigeration was not around and you had to preserve meats by curing them. Charcuterie has come a long way since then by not only using meats that are either salted, brined or smoked, the addition of cheeses, fruit, nuts, pickles, olives and condiments balances out the palate as well as it is visually pleasing.

There are several components to a Charcuterie Board that is easy as 1,2,3!

  1. Determine how many people this will serve and pick an appropriate size board (or platter).
  2. Plan out what items you want on your board:

I start out with cheese: pick at least 3 different cheeses (soft, medium and hard). For example: Burrata or Brie for the soft, Munster or Gouda for the medium texture and perhaps a sharp Cheddar or crumbled Parmesan for the hard. Arrange with different shapes such as: cubes, fan out the brie, and pile up the crumbles. We’re looking for texture and depth here.

Then I go for the meats: pick at least 3 different meats. Salami, Prosciutto, Capicola, Chorizo, sliced Ham, Genoa, Summer Sausage, etc. Arrange with different shapes as well. Roll up the prosciutto and ham, fold the salami, cascade the sausages.

These items are placed evenly and strategically on the board. Think in thirds. Divide your board in a grid of thirds. Don’t clump all the cheeses or meats in one spot. Spread them out so it is visually appealing.

Now that you have your cheese and meats down, there is plenty of area to fill in with the rest.

Think: Color, Contrast and Composition as well as flavors and textures. You are building a work of art. Make it look as good as it tastes!

Fill in with different colors and textures of fruit such as: red and green grapes, dried apricots, blackberries, figs, strawberries, pineapple, etc. This is a good opportunity to utilize seasonal fruit.

Then I fill in with an assortment of olives, gherkin pickles and nuts.

        3.) The finishing touches:

Next comes the condiments. You will want to compliment what you have on your board. The salty and fatty meats would be complimented with some acidity such as a reduced balsamic vinegar dip or stone ground mustard. Jams and fruit spreads go well with the cheeses. A gastrique (a French term for a condiment consisting of half sweet and half sour). *See recipe below. A spicy condiment such as a spicy chutney would compliment the sweeter item on your board. Think also of pate or hummus to compliment the board as well.

I like to keep the condiments and breads, crackers, flatbreads, etc. close by but not on the board. That way they don’t interfere with folks digging in to this delight and it keeps the bread items from getting soggy.

Last but not least, choose your bread products. The softer items such as the burrata, brie, pate or hummus would require a firmer bread such as a toasted flatbread or cracker. Triscuits for hard salami etc. Think in terms of shapes here. Round and rectangular crackers, toasted pita triangles, and planks of flatbread.

In essence, think flavor, texture, color, composition and diversity.

Have fun and don’t forget to take a picture of your masterpiece before everyone indulges in it!

I have a motto in all my cooking classes: “Play with your Food and Eat your Homework”!

* Gastrique Recipe

A gastrique is basically a sweet and sour sauce.

Use equal parts of sugar to equal parts of a sour such as vinegar.

1 Cup Sugar

1 Cup Vinegar (such as balsamic, red wine, or a flavored vinegar)

Put sugar into a deep sauce pan and heat on medium high until the sugar melts and has a nice caramel color. Very carefully add the vinegar as it will bubble up and might splash. Be careful because the hot sugar can stick to your skin and burn. Stir until incorporated and reduce to desired thickness. Let cool and serve with your Charcuterie Board.

There are many variations to this including adding fresh fruit, etc. Use your browser to search on-line for more ideas.

Have questions or want to book Trusan Cuisines for a Catering, an At Home Cooking Class Dinner Party or Cooking Lessons, contact me at: