How to Stock a Party-Perfect Charcuterie + Cheese Board
‘Charcuterie’ is a French term that’s derived from the words for cooked (‘cuit’) and flesh (‘chair’) and refers to cured meats that can be served cold. A well-stocked charcuterie board makes entertaining easy – just pile it high with deliciousness, then let guests help themselves while you mix, mingle and enjoy the party without worrying about preparing or serving food.
Entertaining Made Easy
Any seasoned host will tell you that selecting food to appeal to a wide variety of palates can be tricky. Enter a charcuterie and cheese board: With a mix of cheeses, meats, nuts, fruit and bread, it's an easy way to put out a savory-meets-sweet spread that has a little bit of something for everyone.
For the Charcuterie, We Chose
Salami (top left): Heavily seasoned pork with a characteristic fermented flavor and dense texture. Top a chunk of baguette with salami sliced thin, spicy mustard and a cornichon for a savory bite of awesomeness.
Soppressata (top right): an Italian dry salami with a spicy flavor similar to pepperoni. Pair it with sharp cheddar for added bite.
Pâté (bottom right): Decadent and creamy, pâté is ground poultry, beef, seafood or vegetables combined with spices and fat to form a spreadable paste. Use it to top toasted bread rounds or fresh baguette, then pile on other sweet or savory toppings like fresh fruit or a cornichon.
Prosciutto di Parma (bottom left): Dry cured ham with a sweet flavor that pairs perfectly with fruit or tart cheeses.
Add Flavorful Accompaniments
Other traditional accompaniments are salty cornichons (mini French pickles), coarse-ground mustard and assorted nuts (like pistachios, almonds and cashews) for crunch.
Bring On the Baguettes
Warm-from-the-oven baguettes are a perfect partner to slices of the cold meats. Place a bread knife nearby or allow guests to break off crusty chunks.
But, It's Not All About the Meat
Partygoers can’t live on cured meats alone, adding a selection of cheeses, fruit and nuts to your charcuterie board will ensure that vegetarians can happily nibble as well.
For the Cheeses, We Chose
Chevre (top left): Made from goat’s milk, this oh-so-creamy cheese is mild and slightly sweet and is irresistible when drizzled with honey. Spread liberally on a chunk of warm baguette and top with honey or fresh fruit for a crunchy-meets-creamy winning combo.
Mimolette (top right): With a bright orange flesh and tough, tan rind, this sweet and nutty cheese resembles cantaloupe but the flavor is more like a great cheddar. Pair it with sweet or savory toppings.
Bleu (bottom right): The perfect balance of creamy and tangy, spread bleu cheese on crostini and top with dried fruit for a sweet-meets-savory mouthful.
Manchego (bottom middle): A firm Spanish cheese, made from sheep’s milk, with a flavor that becomes richer the longer it’s aged.
Aged Cheddar (bottom left): A perennial favorite, this tangy cheese pairs equally well with spicy meats, like salami or soppressata, or fresh or dried fruit.
Don't Forget the Flowers
What would a party table be without a centerpiece? For ours, we filled a vintage glass canister with a variety of flowers and greenery including ornamental cabbage.
Make the Drinks Self-Serve, Too
Partygoers are certain to get thirsty so set up a beverage station nearby so guests can pair their nibbles with a glass of their favorite vintage.