FOOD

The 5 Key Components of the Ultimate Cheese and Charcuterie Board

August 25th, 2017

There’s something so simple, so elegant, and so gourmet about a charcuterie and cheese board.

While there’s really no wrong way to put one together, there are a few guidelines—like the right variation of cheeses, for example—that can make your spread feel extra special. Read on and find out how to create the ultimate charcuterie and cheese board for you and your guests.

Cheeses

Let’s be real: the cheese is the main attraction. While tempting, try not to go too crazy on cheese choices. Instead, stick with about four great ones. Ideally, you want one from each of the four main cheese categories: aged, firm, soft, and blue. Below, we listed a nice variety you should be able to find at most markets. If you’re feeling lost, talk to your local cheesemonger.

Pro tip: Slice all but the soft cheeses ahead of time to make it easier on your guests.

Aged

  • Aged cheddar
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Manchego

Firm

  • Comte
  • Gruyere

Soft

  • Brie
  • Camembert
  • Chevre (goat cheese)

Blue

  • Gorgonzola
  • Danish blue

Meat

Remember the most important rule: quality over quantity. Find a specialty market or deli near you and, again, stick to between two and four flavorful meats to balance out your cheese choices. Here are a handful of popular charcuterie choices.

Spreads and dips

A touch of sweet (honey) can go beautifully with blue cheese. Or, after indulging on brie and fresh fruit, a savory olive bruschetta can be a welcome flavor change-up.

Jams, spreads, and dips elevate a charcuterie board and allow guests to experiment with flavor combinations (brie + sour cherry spread + baguette are particularly good). Pick one or two of the spreads listed.

Crackers

Pick a simple starch for your board, so as not to overpower the flavors of the meat and cheese. Keep it simple, and pick one of the following breads or crackers.

Other accompaniments

Again, there’s no wrong way to do this, but there is a better way, and that includes extra touches like pickled vegetables, briny olives, roasted nuts, or fresh fruit—just limit yourself to two or three.

Arrange everything on a wooden serving board, and voila—you have a ready-made hors d’oeuvre platter in minutes, no cooking required. Did we mention it’s also the perfect occasion for a glass of wine?

Photo credit: Alicia Cho

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Annalise MantzAnnalise is a foodie, Brussels sprouts lover, grammar nerd, and political pet aficionado.

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