The Christmas festivities will be soon upon us. How ready are you to tackle some dinner hosting and the art of food presentation? I’ve recently explored charcuterie boards on many separate occasions and have enjoyed the happy faces of my guests as they sample different meats and cheese pairings. There are infinite combinations and pairing it with some wine or hot chocolate makes the evening extra special.
Here’s a few things I’ve learned in the process of creating these masterpieces:
Variety is Good but Doesn’t Need to be Overwhelming
Every time I’ve hosted an event and have taken my charcuterie game to the next level, I’ve never purchased an overwhelming amount of cheese and meat. I stick to 4-5 different cheeses and meats with a diverse selection of nuts and carbs so that I never felt stressed preparing for the special occasion. Usually a few different items are enough to entertain guests and also doesn’t break the bank. If you’re hoping to host a very special evening, a larger charcuterie board with perhaps 7-8 types of meats and cheeses may be an option.
Mix Different Flavors
Don’t be afraid to add sweets to your charcuterie board. Despite the name “meat and cheese boards” there can be a range of flavors including sweet, sour, and savory. For myself, fruits such as apples, grapes, and strawberries pair great with many cheeses and also serve to clear your palate from time to time. I’ve even seen caramel popcorn and chocolates on many charcuterie boards that I have yet to try.
Don’t Forget Carbs
Another unforgettable addition to my cheese boards include bruschetta bites. I remember so fondly that after laying down the meats and cheese, I had so much space left on the board that I scoured the kitchen for options until I came across a loaf of wholewheat bread and tomatoes in my fridge. Although textured bread such as baguettes are preferred for bruschetta bites, wholewheat toast in this case worked wonders and my guests were thoroughly impressed with the presentation. Other carbs you can add to your board include water crackers, vegetable thins, and even just plain soda crackers.
Dips, Spreads, and Sauces in the middle
One of the earlier struggles I had when learning about presenting charcuterie boards was where to place the items for optimal aesthetics. I found that placing your largest items (typically these are sauce dishes, spreads, and dips) in the centre helped the cheese and meats to naturally go around the edges. If a dip goes well with a certain carb or fruit, place the two near one another. The smallest items should be on the perimeter.
Don’t forget the final touches
Lastly, though I have yet to perfect the final touches, there are a variety of additions one can make to the board. For myself, this means adding some oregano to the bruschetta or adding the cutlery and utensils. For others, it means lighting a scented candle or adding some fresh flowers to decorate the board further. Some boards even have labelled cheeses and meats which can help guests locate their favorites among the fray.