Wednesday 2 December 2020

How to Build a Festive Charcuterie Board

Charcuterie boards have kinda blown up a bit the last few years and with good reason - they're delicious! 

I recently worked with a brand and created one as part of my idea for the campaign and I took some extra photos as I just knew it would make the perfect blog post in the lead up to Christmas. Charcuterie is a French term for a branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products, such as bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, ballotines, pâtés, and confit, primarily from pork but over the years they've been adapted to suit so many more tastes - to be honest, you can create any Charcuterie you fancy including something sweet. 

They make such a great centerpiece for any party spread whatever the occasion and we're planning to have another one on Christmas Eve as part of our meats and cheese tradition. 

So do you want to know how to create your own? It's super easy! 

The Board
First of all, you need to decide on the board you're using and the size - I have a round chopping board I use for baking photos which is what I also use for Charcuterie. You really don't need anything special, as long as it's flat, it'll work. You probably already have the perfect base in your kitchen cupboards. The idea of a Charcuterie is to add height and texture while making sure everything is accessible when you're grazing - think layering, folding meats, utilising ramekins and decorative pieces.  

The Condiments
Start with your empty board and add your dishes or ramekins - this is where you'll put olives, pickles, gherkins, honey or chutneys. Add one in the centre of the board so you can work around it and then add any others to the edges - you can use one or two or more, it's entirely up to you! I use a mix of shallow dishes for olives and pickles and glassware for honey and chutney.

For this particular board I used two shallow dishes, one for olives and one for gherkins and then glassware for honey. 

Once your olives and pickles are in place it's time to add your cheese! 

The Cheese
For me... the cheese is the star of the show so I pick out some of my all time favourites such as Red Leicester, Camembert, Brie, Red Devil Chedder and Wensleydale. The best way to choose your cheese is by picking out three or four of your favourite cheeses, one soft, one semi-soft, one semi-hard and one hard - different coloured cheeses help make them stand out too. Arrange them in different parts of the board, cut them up in slices or chunks or just add a block and a cheese knife. 

The Bread
Next up - you need something to layer your cheese and meats so think crackers, water biscuits and flatbreads. Slide breadsticks between the cheeses, lay crackers in decorative ways around the board and just use them to fill in gaps. You can get some really great Christmas shaped cracker biscuits this time of year in places like Marks and Spencer and Sainsburys to give it a truly festive feel. 

The Meat
Cured meat is my absolute favourite - I blame living in Spain, I turn my nose up at ham but give me a slice of Chorizo and I'm yours. Cured meat is a must have on your Charcuterie board as it pairs so well with cheese! I tend to use Chorizo, Italian Salami, Proscuitto, Serrano... you get the idea. Layer the slices on the board by laying them flat, rolling them up or fold in half then half again like I've done on mine. By folding and layering you get to use more on the board and it begins to give the board that textured look you're trying to achieve.

The Fruit & Extras
Once you have your base of cheese, meats and crackers it's time to add all of the extras to fill in those gaps. I like to add a mixture of nuts such as pecans, cashews or pistachios followed by different fruits. Grapes, blueberries and strawberries are great for this or look for seasonal fruits - figs work really well as do dried fruits. You could also add herbs such as sprigs of rosemary or thyme.

Once you've arranged your final pieces you should have a completed charcuterie board! 

It's fun, it's easy and it tastes bloody delicious - so... have I tempted you to make your own?

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