How To: Charcuterie
Who doesn't love a good charcuterie board?
Here are some tips and tricks on how to impress your friends with the best cheese board around!
When making a cheese board, it's important to serve a variety of cheeses to please your guests! Depending on how many people will be eating from the cheese board, it's generally a good ideal to serve 3-5 different cheeses. But how do you decide?
There are a couple different things to consider:
Firmness - make sure you have a variety of cheeses with different textures to keep every bite exciting. I usually try to get one soft cheese (such as Brie, Boursin, Burrata or other spreadable cheese), one semi-firm (Manchego is always a people pleaser!), and one firmer cheese (aged Cheddars, Parmigiano Reggiano or any crumbly cheese). Having a variety of textures will also make your board look more appetizing and intriguing!
Milk Type - when trying to get the most variety out of your cheeses, a good rule of thumb is to make your selection based on the milk type. While cow's milk is the most common, there is still a large selection of cheeses with goat and sheep milk. Although any cheese will taste different than another, you'll get the biggest difference if you select cheeses with varying milk types.
Country of Origin - the environment in which any cheese is made will influence it's flavour. Do you want your cheeses to feel cohesive? Aim to get them all from the same country! Are you looking for a vast variety and try something new? Grab them all from different countries! Although country of origin is a great thing to think about, it's just some food for thought when determining your cheese selection.
Natural vs Flavoured - I'm a big believer in letting cheese speak for itself, but sometimes it's nice to have a little help! Flavoured cheeses are ones that have other things added to them, altering the taste. This can include adding fruit, mustard, truffles or olives, being smoked or even soaked in wine. Flavoured cheese are awesome to add to a cheese board, as long as you have some 'natural' cheeses (meaning a cheese that doesn't have these types of additions) too. Variety is key!
Now that you've decided on what cheeses you want to serve, how much cheese do you bring home?
The general rule for portion sizes is about 1-2oz (30-60g) of each cheese per person, depending on how many cheeses and accompaniments you have.
Is the cheese board only one of the many courses you plan on serving? Opt for a little less!
Is the cheese board the star of the show? Opt for a little more!
You've got your cheese, but what else do you put on a board?
All cheese loves fruit! Strawberries, blueberries, grapes and apples are awesome pairings with almost any cheese. If possible, use seasonal and local fruits. You can also include dried fruits, such as raisins, dried apricots or cranberries for a sweet twist!
The general rule for crackers is - flavourful cheese with a plain cracker / plain cheese with a flavourful cracker. You want to let the flavour of your cheeses shine, but sometimes they can use a little help! For plain crackers, try to find something thin that's labelled "Original" or "Sea Salt" flavour - this way you know the cracker won't overwhelm your cheese. If you have something plain (like a white cheddar, brie, gouda, etc.) then you can really get creative! Herb & garlic, fruit & nuts or seed based crackers are awesome with simple cheeses.
Spreads are an awesome thing to include on your boards. This can range from jams or jellies, chutneys or salsas, to honey or maple syrup! Sometimes cheeses can be very dry and crumbly, and adding a simple spread can really elevate your cheeses and subtly change their flavour profiles. I usually aim for 2 spreads with my boards, one sweet and one savoury, to keep the palate excited without being too overwhelming!
Cured meats and cheeses are a match made in heaven! Personally, I prefer thin sliced salamis from the deli, but you can go for thicker cut pepperoni sticks too! I usually opt for one mild and one spicy option, but make sure they're labelled for your less-spice inclined guests.
Try: Genoa salami, soppressata salami, calabrese salami (spicy!), Chorizo or Hungarian. Summer sausages are great too!
If you want to get fancy, try to make some salami roses (pictured right) or a salami river through your board! Remember, we always eat with our eyes first -- especially when it comes to charcuterie boards!
Garnishes and Other Accompaniments
Once you have most of your board put together, you'll need some space fillers. Nuts and seeds are an awesome way to get some extra crunch onto your board, but don't be shy to put some fresh herbs, chocolates, vegetables or pickles on there too!
Keep in mind, the Cheese Board Police will not come hunt you down if you 'break' any of these rules! These are just some tips to help you make the best cheese board suited to your tastebuds.
At the end of the day, if you like everything on your board, you've made the best cheese board there can be!