I wanted to share some inspiration and hopefully explain more about what is a charcuterie board. You see them around restaurants a lot. Many friends love my charcuterie boards, we put a lot of heart and soul into the ones we create.
What is the Definition of a Charcuterie Board? The modern definition is a selection of food that offers contrasts, various textures and different colors. Consumed in a group, the focus of the charcuterie board is food that that is easy to eat, finger food is the goal.
This page is all about some funky ideas to inspire you and hopefully you can come up with your own signature style or make something new to include on your board. The combinations of flavors are endless and to be honest its easy once you start!
If you would like a more in depth post in charcuterie board creation, I wrote a full length post here.
As a main snacking board for a group or a start to a lavish meal – The charcuterie board is a pleasure to create and an even greater pleasure to devour!
The Key To Success – Contrasts, Colors & Textures
So for me it all starts with the meat (skip if you aren’t into it) and the fruit that can match this. Contrasts of color ie. Parma ham & melon!
I literally can’t imagine a charcuterie board without meat.
Dips, rillette, pickles – can make a charcuterie board very different and diverse compared to the traditional meat and cheese platter. Offering many variations on color and texture.
The restaurants have marketed it as something more, hence charcuterie is now more than the traditional salumi board. For more about salumi, here is a write up on salami & salumi.
Texture contrasts – soft sourdough with a crunchy crust,
Don’t forget to see what you have at home in the pantry before going for a huge shop.
Colour contrasting is key, when you think of Japanese dishes – I have read traditionally the Japanese use 5 colors in each dish. Don’t know about you, in terms of presentation – the classic Japanese style always looks divine to me.
On a charcuterie board you can go bananas with this idea, I love using edible flowers to really bring out vibrancy (they grow like weeds around here). A lot of people have herbs at home, why not add some edible flowers with visual power too.
Sweet, Salty & Sour
Sweetness generally comes from the fruit and preserves you may use.
If you live in France, it’s strict – if you don’t go crazy
The French Encyclopedia of Cuisine – “Larousse Gastronomique” is where the word Charcuterie is defined as:
Products based on pork meat or offal. The word also designates the shop where such products are sold and also the group of tradesmen who sell it.
The closest I get to this is cured meat & pates, but its up to you of course!
Locally Sourced or Hand Made
People always seems to appreciate thoughtfulness and passion don’t you think? Seeing someone’s passion in the food they offer or create brings me the maximum level of joy.
I still use supermarkets but the lack of passion behind the products in most aisles leads my focus to the farmers market or backyard. Although, an Italian supermarket is a different story all together. Italians have food as the centre piece of the entire culture and value system.
I love it when people can appreciate something I have put some time and energy into making. If you want to give hot smoked fish a go, check it out here. (You don’t need much in terms of equipment)
It’s All Visual – Serving Platter / Wooden Boards
In some parts of the world, where driftwood is available – this can make an amazing centre piece to an epic charcuterie board.
The board generally is wooden, but what about marble, ceramic or flat sheet stone? Make it your own style!
The Food – Quick Summary
Edible Flowers (icing on the charcuterie cake)
So much color can be added with a few of these, great to have these growing inside or outside your place. Guess what, they grow like a weed! Sometimes they are a weed!
Eat Cured Meat
I created this site to inspire beginners, but I do adore the time and effort that goes into quality salumi. If you want to know about Salumi vs Salami please find it here.
Parma ham is king, because of the story behind it. It’s all about well looked after quality pork, salt, Italian passion & 12 months minimum of salumi magic.
Proscuitto wrapped in melon – classic Italian – a contrast but also a match made in heaven (and in my tummy)
Salami – choose your own favorites, or your friends and family favorites.
Some really exciting variations are out there now, something peppery or hot can be found. What about truffle infusions or black pudding.
Salumis – in the broader sense the coppas, lonzo, lozinos, braesola, duck proscuitto, lamb proscuitto or maybe your own handmade pancetta.
Mortadella encrusted with truffle & pistachio – I know it sounds like too much, but the cooked traditional salami of Italy is incredible. Especially a 2 foot high whole mortadella – hand sliced in Italy with a sword knife.
I guess the meat for a lot of people is the main fare here, so if that’s the expectations maybe you want to go the distance. Cured meats are my absolute passion and why I started this blog. It’s a pleasure to share my passion with the world.
Thank’s for reading.
Fruits That Match the Meat
Quince jams and other tarty fruit options lend themselves very well to many cured meats. Also the combination works well with cheeses.
Dried Fruits can be a great option when the seasons dictate terms.
Pickles & Pickled Products
Gherkins. lightly pickled cucumbers (easy recipes out there)
I do love my pickled mussels.
Black, green, giant, Spanish, Italian, Greek, pitted, stuffed with garlic, stuffed with pimento, stuffed with cream cheese.
An important section I feel, maybe the soft & hard contrast? What about the creamy and lean? What do you want to use as the vehicle for your cheesy experience.
Locally made artisan styles are popping up everywhere. Goats and sheep are being milked with passion everywhere!
Breads, Crackers & Flat Bread
Fresh bread is important on the charcuterie board, I love the baguette and brie – with or without a fruity concoction.
Sourdough ‘waste’ (leftover from sourdough starter) crackers are an easy addition, which come from my oven.
Since my partner inspires to be a squirrel of some sorts, there is the need to get the hammer out and do some shell removing…a lot.
Flavoring the nuts or roasting them can provide more unique angles to your charcuterie finger food platter.
This section highlights anything goes on to a charcuterie board. Food is about evolution and creation. Let’s not get caught up in the strict French definition of a charcuterie board. I like pickled mussels on my charcuterie board.
For a seafaring charcuterie board, prawns, mussels or scallops could fit in. Using lemon, caper & creamy concoctions to match the crustaceans.
In Australia, I think it would be called “Surf & Turf” – prawns & red meat?
What Goes on a Charcuterie Board?
It consists of meats, cheeses, fruits, nuts, breads and spreads traditionally. A focus is on meat and cheese generally, however this does not limit the addition of any food that doesn’t need cutlery. Soup is not suggested on a charcuterie board.
How to Make Charcuterie?
Obtain recipes for cured pork or rillettes to create classic French style dishes. Sausages, salami and pâté are all part of the charcuterie definition. These are considered common on a charcuterie board.
Here is a full article, hopefully to give some inspiration about your own style of a charcuterie board.
Thanks for dropping by, I’ve been passionate about meat curing for around 20 years now. Having been lucky enough to learn inside fine dining kitchens through to backyard smoking sessions. From doing courses, trial & error and reading extensively – finally, I thought it was time to share my passion online.
My insatiable appetite and passion toward classic Italian dry-cured salumi and all forms of curing and smoking are what drives this website engine. All the best, Tom