I don’t know about you, but I could easily make an entire meal out of antipasto! It’s probably my favorite part of any dinner party - and the perfect thing to serve for a cocktail party! But how the heck do you get all that stuff to look pretty on a board!? It’s actually very easy.
The first thing you want to do is select your board. Different materials will change how your board looks and feels - and of course, you want something that goes with your personality, your home and your party! Some items to consider would be marble, wood, or slate (which is fun because you can write on it with chalk!). And of course, the size and shape of your board as well. Do you have the space for one large board? Would you prefer to make 2-3 smaller boards and have them in different rooms? I can tell you, when it comes to a cocktail party - the people will be where the food is. So if you DON’T want everyone in your kitchen, I recommend placing your charcuterie board outside of the kitchen as well!
Next, select what you want to serve. My board has all of my favorites, salami, soppressata, truffled provolone, manchego and goat cheese. The best things to accompany a charcuterie board are fresh or dried, seasonal fruits, raw nuts, some crostini (if you have a spreading cheese like my goat cheese or a brie) and some fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary and sage are some of my favorites) to add something fresh and green to the dish. You can also grab some marinated olives, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts or any other small, jarred or pickles vegetable that seems interesting. These I often put into small dishes around the board.
Now that you’ve gathered everything you need, start slicing and dicing! If you haven’t purchased pre-sliced meats and cheeses, you want to prepare everything by slicing the meats, and cutting up the cheeses into either slices or cubes - whatever feels like a natural shape for the product you’re working with. The manchego, for example, came as a large wedge, so triangle shaped slices made sense. The provolone crumbled when I cut it because of the veins of truffle, so I let it do what it was going to do naturally and just had small, odd shaped pieces that were ABOUT the same size. If you’re using fresh fruit like pear or apple, slice thin pieces that can easily match the meats and cheeses. Grapes can just be snipped into small bunches of 3-5 grapes. If using dried fruits like cranberries, apricots or figs, you can leave them whole. The raw nuts can simply be left whole as well.
It’s time to get creative! This is my favorite part, matching the different shaped pieces to the space on the board. Creating something that looks beautiful! I usually start with any small bowls that I plan on using and place them on the board first. They kind of act as an “anchor” if you will, and make an easy point to start working off of. From there, I just see what fits where. Secret confession - I took algebra, no fewer than 4 times before I passed….but I was AWESOME at geometry…I think that’s why I enjoy making these damn boards so much! The general idea is to completely cover the board with meats, cheeses, fruit, nuts, and crostini. Finally, use a few sprigs of fresh herbs to simply lay on top of things, almost as visual dividers between items.
We often think of eating as something we only do with our mouths - but the truth is, we use all of our senses when we eat - or at least we should! A board that looks beautiful and appealing draws people in. We use our hands, in this case, to assemble whatever combination of things we want. Food has a smell (which actually contributes largely to how something tastes for us as well!). And then, FINALLY, we taste it. A good charcuterie board is perfect for hosting, or bringing. They’re easy to do, can fit into any budget AND, the board itself can be a great hostess gift as well! Cheers to the holidays and Buon Appetito!
12 inch board, Serves 10-12
1/2 lb. Genoa Salami, sliced
1/2 lb. Soppressata, sliced
1/2 lb. manchego cheese, sliced
1/2 lb. truffled provolone cheese, cut up (it crumbles)
1 small log goat cheese, leave whole
1/4 pear, sliced thin
small container marinated olives
fresh thyme sprigs (4-5)
Once you have prepared all of your ingredients. Select a small bowl for the olives and place that on your board. Starting from the bowl, place slices of meat and cheese around the board. Fill in any empty spots with pear, crostini and walnuts. Cover the board completely.
Place fresh thyme gently on top, in-between different items to create a visual “border” between things.
Serve immediately or wrap board and refrigerate. Can be made 1 day in advance.