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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Building Beautiful Charcuterie and Cheese Boards for Your Holiday Guests

Charcuterie comes from the French, meaning 'cooked meat'. Creating a simple charcuterie board of meats and cheeses requires just a few basic guidelines and it provides a wonderful "noshing" station for your gathering. 

Annarose Hart,  with her From the Land of Kansas gift basket and products, joined me on WIBW 13 News This Morning,  Nov. 14, 2013, as my special guest for Chef Alli's Farm Fresh Kitchen. 
Here are the secrets to success:

1.  Gathering
  • Select a variety of flavors and textures that will offer an appetizing selection, but not an overwhelming abundance. (Remember - More is not better, better is better!)  Keep in mind the preferences of the guests you've invited, making sure to include elements they will be comfortable approaching and eating:
  • Cured and smoked meats, such as salami and prosciutto
  • An assortment of stone-ground or Dijon mustard
  • Slices of toasted baguette (you can never have too many!)
  • Assorted interesting crackers and breadsticks 
  • Fruits, such as sliced apples and pears, fresh figs, dried apricots, etc
  • Nuts, such as smoked almonds, pistachios, glazed pecans
  • Olives, peppadews, pickles, chutneys, fruit spreads and jams, marinated artichokes, pestos, tapenades, capers 
  • 3-5 Cheeses of varying types, including aged, hard, veined, and/or soft
2. Presentation 
  • Choose an assortment of pretty marble or slate slabs, or use wooden cutting board(s) and arrange your elements to create a pleasing layout - this is the part that I enjoy the most.  I like to place my meats more in the center of my boards, surrounding them with small bowls of the other chosen ingredients that will make interesting flavor combinations. 
3. Portion Planning
  • In my experience, guests will eat as much as you place out on your boards. As an appetizer, plan on at least 2-3 oz. of total meat per person and about 2 oz. of cheese per person.  Planning for these portions will still allow room for later courses at dinner.  (If your charcuterie and cheese boards are the main course, double the amounts stated per person.)
4.  Serving
  • Cheeses and cured meats are at their optimum flavor when served at room temperature so arrange them on your boards about 30 minutes before your guests arrive. 
  • If possible, label the elements included on your boards so guests know what their eating. 
  • To avoid mixing the cheeses and spreads, provide knives and serving utensils for each element. 

5. Safety
  • It is best not to let your charcuterie and cheese boards stand at room temperature for more than two hours. Using smaller boards will allow you switch to a fresh one as needed after your event gets under way.  
Let the party begin!

Now You're Cookin,
Chef Alli