As we all break free from being holed up inside during the cooler winter months (and even chilly spring days), visions of casual outdoor get-togethers with friends start filling my head. I’m already looking forward to a long summer of being outside with everyone, sharing tasty bites and a variety of refreshing drinks. One of my favorite things to bring over to gatherings is a charcuterie board, so I thought I’d get together with my friend Kristen Cronyn from Meet & Eat Charcuterie here in Buffalo, NY to share some of her tips and tricks on how we can make one that’s sure to be a crowd pleaser.
What is charcuterie? Traditionally, a charcuterie—pronounced char·cu·te·rie—is defined as a collection of cold cooked meats. Nowadays, it’s evolved to include so much more. When prepping a board, you want to get creative with flavors and presentation. Try mixing textures with crunchy and soft items, and try to find a good balance between sweet, salty, and savory. Presentation is key—build a pretty board and the people (and appetites) will come. It’s also smart to arrange your items in a way that makes it easy for everyone to pick and choose what they want to fill their snack plate up with.
- Pick the right size board for your party—not too big, not too small.
- When shopping, keep these three things in mind: variety, color, texture! Look for colorful fruits, spreads, nuts, seeds, and a variety of different meats, cheeses, and texture for the perfect bite!
- Make the cheese your anchor for surrounding foods, then follow with meats, condiments, and anything else.
- Different knives have different purposes, so get cheese knives to match the cheeses you have:
- Soft Cheese Knife: Has holes, which helps make it have less contact with the cheese so it doesn’t get stuck.
- Pronged Cheese Knife: Used for soft to semi-hard cheeses because it makes perfect chunks and is great for picking up and plating pieces.
- Flat Cheese Knife: Just what you want for slicing aged cheeses.
- Slim Blade Knife: Helps prevent sticking, so it’s another good choice for soft to semi-hard cheeses.
- Mix it up—choose a variety of hard, soft and crumbly cheeses.
- People love things in 3's so split your board up into three sections and go from there!
- Your board shouldn't just look pretty, put foods that pair well next to each other
- Think Family & Flavor
- When it comes to fruit, here are my faves: Grapes (use scissors to pre-cut servings and then stack), dried fruits, strawberries, blueberries, apricots, figs (cut in half to look prettier.
- Add flowers and sprigs of rosemary to garnish
- Create beautiful meat and mango flowers! An easy way to make them is to use mini cups as shown in the video. You can also use toothpicks to keep them together.
- Always add some chocolate, preferably dark!
- You don’t have to cut all of the cheese, but start with a few so it encourages people to start snacking.
- Don’t forget to leave space for crackers, or, keep them separate if your party isn't for a few hours! You don't want your crackers to get soft in the fridge.
Hopefully, these tips and tricks will help jump start the beginning of a summer-long obsession with creating delicious charcuterie boards for you and yours. Thanks Kristen - Enjoy, friends!