A Beginner’s Guide to Charcuterie

Do you know how to “charcuterie?” Do you even know what that means? Basically it’s a cured meat board with cheese and other good stuff. It is a delicious addition to gatherings of any size. They are easy to put together too.

My husband doesn’t like to be overwhelmed by details so when he goes shopping for the ingredients I ask him to get some cheeses and cured meats that he likes. It can be that simple. I wrote this post for those of us who want more information about what goes on to a charcuterie board. To help with this, I visited the local food wizards at Hawley Crescent Culinary

Chef Roger says charcuterie boards are simple to make and pack a big punch. He told me there are no rules and in terms of budget you can make your own for less than $18. There are many ways you can do these and you should serve whatever you like. 

 little charcuterie boards

These little charcuterie boards were made from the big one at the bottom of the post. Each one would be fine on its own.

In an effort to make things a little more detailed, (again let me stress it isn’t really complicated, I just like to write steps!) I have put together this list:

Step 1 Plan: Figure out how many people will be enjoying your board. Estimate about two ounces for each person if it is an appetizer, double it if for the main. (Think small plate vs. large.) You could also theme by country, local offerings, or even by animal milk cheeses. In my opinion a great board has savoury, salty, smoky, sweet, soft and crunchy flavours.

The boards we enjoyed in these pictures are what Chef Roger calls “Living” boards. The ingredients are 95% locally supplied. I love supporting local and appreciate that this company works with local vendors in the different towns they work in. Having recently achieved their Feast On designation, you know they are serious about that. 

 things to add to your charcuterie boards

Hummus, made by the Hawley Crescent folks, is nice to have on the boards too.

Step 2 Cheeses: Keep it simple. Pick complementary flavours for the cheese and meats. Aim for 3 cheeses, 4 at the most – at least one soft, and one firm, maybe a creamed. Something like blue cheese, double cream brie, aged gouda – different textures are important.

Also you want to make sure you have mild and strong flavours vs all strong. Look for a cheesemonger who knows what they are talking about if you aren’t sure. Most cheese counters will let you try samples. Just remember, if you like it – add it – you aren’t breaking any rules. I like cheese curds WAY too much to omit. 

Step 3 Meats: With the meats pick some that are bold mild and medium – like the cheeses. For texture with cured meats you could have a hard peppery salami, some sort of prosciutto and maybe a pate.

Step 4 Sides: For cheeses it’s typical to pick sweet accompaniments like jam, sweet pickles, or honey. For the meats I select savouries like olives, grainy mustards, pickled veggies and other spicy stuff.

charcuterie boards

Some Hawley Crescent pesto

Also think about crunch factor like cherry tomatoes, pears, apples, grapes etc. Have bread options available with your favourite crackers, pre-sliced loafs, crisps, bread sticks etc. Offer plain as well as flavoured bread/cracker options. 

I like to throw in some not so expected items somewhere like they did on this board at Hawley Crescent shown with chocolate covered strawberries. One can never go wrong with chocolate covered strawberries:

Delicious additions to the charcuterie board

I love how the team at Hawley Crescent always adds special and unique touches to all the things they prepare.

Step 5: Assembly: Depending on the size of your board you can either put things in more than one place or leave them all together. My aunt has a very long board she puts down the centre of the dining table and we all sit around it – she puts a bit of everything on each end with a cheese fondue in the middle.

For smaller boards guests can help themselves to bits and pieces as they please and carry it around on small plates. I like to keep the runny items contained in bowls beside the board. Breads can be separate too. You can plop things down whole with a knife, or pre-slice. 

Remember to throw in some fresh green bits here and there for that extra pop like this: 

Fruit and greens on the charcuterie board

Fresh figs! Have you ever tried this delightful fruit?

Of course, many moments in our lives we find ourselves with less time than we hoped. It is very handy to know that you can order and pick up your own custom designed charcuterie and cheese board ingredients from Hawley Crescent Culinary. They with work with you and your budget to decide what it is you need and require about a week’s notice. They also offer full holiday dinners, take away meals and catering for large and small events. Check them out – they are technological masters of kitchen equipment as well as magicians with the flavours they create in their food.

Thanks for the lesson and visit Hawley Crescent! 

charcuterie

Matt, Sue, Roger and Alex are the personalities behind the success of Hawley Crescent Culinary. 

Enjoy! 

Pinterest image charcuterie board image

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