While a typical appetizer at events and for entertaining, charcuterie boards can function an excellent main-course different, too — particularly this 12 months, as the scale of our gatherings are extra restricted. These spreads allow you to nonetheless get pleasure from quite a lot of meals, however with out the time, trouble, and infinite leftovers that include cooking and cleansing up a multi-course meal.
The benefits of charcuterie-board eating abound: The food combos are infinite and customizable to your preferences; it may be as large or small as you want; in addition to a handful of small plates, there’s just one board to scrub; and every little thing may be thrown collectively in a flash.
Plus, should you’ve ever enjoyed a charcuterie board, you know the way stunning they are often — who wouldn’t need to get pleasure from one?
For a mixture that stuns each eyes and style buds, you’ll want to be considerate in your picks. So, we requested Chef Ryan Dodge, government chef of Life Time’s LifeCafes nationwide, for his tips on creating your personal your charcuterie board at house.
“When I think of a charcuterie board, two words come to mind: opulence and luxury. A well-designed board offers an entire experience, from providing a span of textures to including all flavor notes,” says Dodge. “You can take a bite 50 different ways from a thoughtfully composed board — it’s like a pick-your-taste adventure. It feels like a lavish experience.”
He says a real charcuterie board honors what you place on it and what you pair collectively. To achieve this, he advises together with one thing from every of the classes under to make sure you hit on quite a lot of textures and flavors. Select what’s seasonal, be impressed by a area, concentrate on a culinary fashion, or choose and select from objects what you’re keen on most.
The star of the board
“Cheese is, in my opinion, the most important part of the spread,” says Dodge. “It’s such a preference food: At my gatherings, the smoked Gouda and sharp cheddar are the first to disappear. Bleu cheese is aromatic and will impact other ingredients, so be conscious of what you pair it with. Cambozola is pliable and spreadable at room temperature. You could even get really festive and build a snowman out of Boursin. Whatever your liking, select a few options for variety.”
Suggested decisions: Brie, Manchego, chèvre smoked Gouda, sharp cheddar, Bleu cheese, Cambozola, or Gournay cheese; non-dairy options, reminiscent of Treeline herb-garlic French-style cheese, Kit Hill chive cream cheese unfold, or Miyoko’s smoked vegan mozzarella
Something with texture
“This is where I like to think about breads and crackers,” says Dodge. “They not only provide texture, but they also serve as your vessel for other ingredients. I’m personally picky in this category as I know whatever you select will influence what you choose to eat it with. You want a strong vessel.”
Suggested decisions: Bread, reminiscent of a baguette or different artisan bread served plain or calmly toasted with extra-virgin olive oil; crackers, reminiscent of skinny wheat, almond flour, or flax seed
“Charcuterie stems from French cooking traditions, and before nitrates were introduced, the technique was rooted in foods naturally preserved by salt, so it’s a category not to forgo,” says Dodge. “Depending on your selection, choices in this area could also offer spice or heat.”
Suggested decisions: Salami, porchetta, speck, prosciutto, sausage, or capicola
“Your choices here compliment your ones in the salty and acidic categories,” says Dodge. “Outside of fruit, you could also look to foods that are candied or honeyed.”
Suggested choices: Fresh, seasonal fruit, reminiscent of apples, pears, pomegranate, persimmons, or grapes; dried fruit, reminiscent of cranberries, figs, dates, or apricots; fruit spreads, reminiscent of jam, marmalade, or chutney
“I love using pickled vegetables here,” says Dodge. “Acidic food can be tart, sharp, sour, and bitter, which is great for balancing out the sweet and salty notes.”
Suggested choices: Pickles or pickled greens, reminiscent of pickled artichokes, beets, or asparagus
- Nuts, reminiscent of Marcona almonds or candied pecans. “Because nuts are so widely used, take this as an opportunity to pick a more divine selection to add richness,” says Dodge.
- Olives, reminiscent of kalamata or inexperienced filled with garlic, goat, or bleu cheese. “Hit the olive bar at your local grocer or stuff your own,” says Dodge. “They can add good variety to the board.”
- Roasted garlic cloves (see recipe under). “Roasted garlic is good for your soul,” says Dodge. “It’ll warm you right up in the winter months.”
- Spreads, reminiscent of balsamic-caramelized onions (see recipe under), olive tapenade, or a chèvre dip. “Balsamic-caramelized onions take some time to cook down, but they’re so worth it,” says Dodge.
- Raw veggies, reminiscent of peppers, carrots, or cucumbers. “Charcuterie boards are a great opportunity to fit in veggies,” says Dodge. “Pick ones that are fun and snappy.”