What makes a perfect charcuterie board?

This blog is home to great takes on what’s going on in the sports world, updates on business topics, and reviews of some great craft beer. Who would’ve thought that you would be reading a blog about the platter combination of cured meats and imported cheeses? But I could not pass upon the opportunity to write about the art of building aboard. Not to pat myself on the back, but I absolutely killed the game last weekend. Even Mike McCarthy (aka Barstool Large), the connoisseur himself loved what he was seeing.

So what is shahr-koo-tuh-ree? The term derives from France where it is the preparation of curring meat products such as ham, sausage, terrines, pates, and pork. It has evolved into the art of making an elaborate appetizer with smoked meats and other assortments. In simpler words, it’s a fancy-ass meat board, the carnivorous option of a cheese spread. You might be thinking, well can’t I throw some cold cuts and mozzarella on a plate and call it a day? Oh no, no-no-no. If you are post-college and heading to a soiree, you need to up your game. You can purchase these prepackaged at most stores or markets, but here is how you can build the most perfect charcuterie board that will give you major props at your next party. Do be aware that this is not the cheapest option, but let’s have some fun.

The first thing you are going to need is a board. You can fancy and get a special board, but it is not necessary. A wood cutting board or a tin service try will suffice. Although the board is in the name, it is not the selling point, and it won’t draw the “oohs” and “aahhs” of the eaters. Let’s get into the goods. As mentioned, this board features all the meat. You are going to need the best of the best to impress. You are also going to need at least two to four types. Number one draft pick in the “meats you need for this board” draft… prosciutto. Next question. You are going to want a combination of both hard and soft meat. Jamon from Spain and Soppressata from Italy are a nice 1-2 punch. Other great choices are Calabrese, Genoa Salami, Chorizo, and Pepperoni.

Photo: Groupon.com

The second thing you are going to need is cheese. Again, variety is key. Pick both hard and soft types, that have mellow to sharp flavors. Provolone will go well with your meat selections above, as will cheddar and mozzarella. Brie is a great spreadable choice. Smoked gouda and blue cheese are bomb picks. Get Burrata, Parmigiano, and Manchego if you feel like dishing out some more money. Sliced, cubed, crumbled, whatever satisfies your pallet. However, if you get the Italian delicacy, make sure you always “Cut the Mozzarella”.

What brings the plate together is the bread and crackers. These are a must. Everyone is a sucker for a nice sliced and toasted French baguette or Italian bread. Those are always the move. Artesian crackers, Ritz, Triscuits, and pretzel crisps are fan favorites. Grab a combination of them all.

To make this a “healthy” app, you have to include fruits and veggies. Cherry tomatoes, carrots, and grapes are easy and combine with everything up top. If you can get fresh strawberries and blueberries, you are set. Dried apricots and cranberries are strong additions. Mini dill pickles are a must-have. Olives too are the bomb (especially if you get the stuffed blue cheese ones… sheesh!).

All you are missing are the finishing touches. Salted almonds and assorted nuts are easy, just make sure you watch for anyone with allergies. The real deal sweetener is your dip selections. Spinach dip, onion dip, honey, balsamic glaze, buffalo chicken spread, dare I say beer cheese? Whatever combination you want. You throw these on your board and there will not be leftovers.

Photo: Tablespoon.com

You can essentially mix and match and add anything you or your guests like. I have seen fish and oysters on boards. Would I recommend it? Probably not, but know your audience and please your crowd. Pair it with a bottle of wine or some craft beer, and you are golden!