Putting together a charcuterie board for game day
By Mike Thayer
Start your Game Day Watch Party with a charcuterie board. Easy to put together, I really like putting a board out, there's no cooking involved, freeing me up to work on the main menu. Another great thing about charcuterie boards is how flexible they are. There's something for everyone on the board, meat lovers, cheese lovers, veggie lovers, there's sweet, savory, salty flavors and more. Use your imagination, there's really no recipe, it's all about what you like in presenting a festive appetizer and your dinner guests will take delight in it.
Basic elements for a charcuterie board:
- The meats... Go with what you know and like, prosciutto, salami, ham and summer sausage. Don't worry about being fancy here either, deli sliced smoked turkey is every bit as good on a cracker with a slice of cheese as a slice of prosciutto.
- Choose a variety of cheeses, hard and soft. Offer hard cheeses such as Cheddar, Gouda, Gruyere and Swiss. For softer cheeses go for Brie, Blue cheese, Feta, Goat cheese, Harvarti, and Muenster. Other cheeses to consider are Colby Jack, Pepper Jack and Provolone. You really can't go wrong here.
- While the meats and cheeses are considered the stars of the board, don't ignore the veggies! Providing various textures and crunch factors, veggies are great for dipping and help balance out the richness of those meats and cheeses. Consider baby carrots, celery, radish, cucumber, broccoli and cauliflower florets, bell pepper slices, cherry tomatoes and sugar snap peas. Not to be left off of any charcuterie board, are a variety of olives and pickles.
- Fruits add that sweet element. Grapes are a must, red and green. Other fruits to consider are just about any kind of berry, pineapple, orange and apple slices. Dried fruits are great too, especially if you can't find a fresh fruit you like that are out of season. Consider apricots, cherries, figs and mango.
- Go nuts! Literally. Again, as with anything on the board, go with what you like, there's no sense in having a leftover of something you're not going to eat. Pistachios (personal favorite), cashews, walnuts, almonds, pecans, candied nuts, mixed nuts and yes, peanuts are all great adds to a board.
- Things to dip in. Mustards are a must, yellow, brown, Dijon, or quickly mix up one of your own by adding some honey. Ranch is another great dipper, as is Thousand Island. If you want to spend a few extra bucks or take the time to make your own, hummus is a great addition to the board. On the sweet side, honey on its own topping some cheese and fruit is excellent. Jams, jellies and marmalades are a nice touch and then there's caramel and those apple slices...
- Crackers and bread are great foundations for creating a fantastic finger food bite. A variety of crackers makes for a better presentation, but there's nothing wrong with classic Ritz crackers and/or Keebler Club crackers. A perfect bread for a board is a baguette sliced on the bias.
- Chocolate. No board is complete without it, adding another sweet element to the board to balance out the savory, plus it pairs so well with wine, especially dark chocolate.
TIP: If you're looking for a time saver, you can purchase ready made charcuterie packs at the grocery store, from basic meat and cheese platters to those that include veggies and sleeves of crackers. You will pay for that convenience however, it's cheaper to slice and assemble your own. Another caution, some of those pre-packaged charcuterie boards are loaded with preservatives to "maintain freshness"... Read the labels if that's a concern. An ex-girlfriend has a dog who eats carrots, loves them! I offered him (his name is Jax, great dog!) a baby carrot from one of those pre-packaged charcuterie kits once, he smelled it and refused it. I thought, "If he won't eat that, why am I?" 'jus say'n....
Related: The Bachelor on the Cheap guide to making wine selection and food pairing easier - Reds
You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.