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7 Easy Steps to the Perfect Charcuterie Board

Let's face it - buffets can sometimes be boring. There's nothing like being invited to a party and anticipating some delectable treats, only to be greeted with a ho-hum selection of chips and dips, veggie sticks and frozen hors d'oeuvres. But what's the alternative? Catering can cost a fortune, and making tasty looking individual appetizers can take forever.

Meet the perfect on-trend serving option - the charcuterie board! Serving boards are a great way to serve fresh ingredients and showcase artisanal delicacies with a minimum of fuss. They're beautiful, easy to assemble, and minimize waste by allowing the guest to choose what they like and control portion size. Best of all, they're not just for traditional charcuterie meats anymore - they can be modified to work with almost any theme or ingredient, from chocolates to cheeses.

Fast fact: The word "charcuterie" comes from the French word for the branch of cooking involving prepared meats. But you've probably noticed by now that the word is having a "moment", and so what people call a charcuterie board now refers to any large serving board layered with tasty treats in an appetizing variety of colors, textures, and styles.

Charcuterie boards are also a fabulous gift - they look beautiful, can often be easily wrapped in cellophane for a beautiful presentation, and when the meal is finished, your host will have a gorgeous serving board that they can use again and again.

Ready to get started on a serving adventure? Here are 5 steps to building the perfect charcuterie or serving board.

Step 1: Decide What To Serve

This may seem elementary, but it's super important! What part of your meal or buffet would be easiest or best to incorporate into the serving board style? Some foods are better suited to serving boards than others. Choose foods that are easy to cut into wedges or slices, like cheeses or meats, or hold their shape well, like grapes or crackers.

What's going to be the star of the show? It's a good idea to choose a main focus or theme, like an Italian salumeria style sandwich board, or a showcase of cheeses, or even a chocolate lover's fantasy, and then use other complementary items to enhance it.

This is the perfect example of a time when the serving piece is as important as what's on it! Serving boards come in a large variety of shapes, materials, and sizes. Wood and marble are often very popular choices as they are sturdy and can accommodate guests cutting or using utensils directly on top. Decide what look you're trying to convey - you can find a serving board in anything from a coastal whale theme to rustic farmhouse or even contemporary minimalist.

Remember that size matters - a lot! Choose a board that's big enough to accommodate everything that you want to serve, without things messily spilling over the sides. But, remember that the bigger the board, the more expensive it is to fill it, and let's face it - nothing's worse than a skimpy looking serving board that looks half-empty. Think of how many people you plan to serve, and how many other dishes will be accompanying it.

Step 3: Create Structure and Dimension

One common mistake that people make when filling a serving board is making it one dimensional. Slices of meat or cheese can look beautiful, but remember, they'll be mostly flat slices on a flat board. Adding tiny bowls with condiments, sauces, or loose items is a great way to add dimension and break up the flat surface. Choose a salt cellar, pinch bowl, or small ramekin to hold goodies - and remember, they don't need to match - an array of sizes and textures can be perfect! Go with all white for a classic look, or get more eclectic and mix and match colors and patterns.

Wood Serving Board with Three Small Bowls

Fill up those small vessels with delicious dips that complement your main event - some classic charcuterie choices might be whole-grain mustard, cornichons, or nuts, but consider going more on-trend with kalamata olives, herbed hummus, or raw honey.

Step 4: Lay it Out and Fill it Up

Now it's time spread out the goodies. Remember that quality and variety are key to the perfect charcuterie board, so choose a selection of items with unique flavors that might be a special treat for guests. If you're going with a traditional meat board, go to a local salumeria and choose thinly sliced meats, and consider including some chunky items like slices of smoked sausages or artisanal jerky or South African biltong. Sliced meats can be arranged in layers of slices, or rolled up for easy pickup. Sometimes a combination of layouts makes the best display!

If you're going with a cheese board, a good rule of thumb is including three to five cheeses in these basic categories: a hard cheese, a soft cheese, and a blue cheese. Try to use contrasting flavors and different textures to give guests a variety of options to sample. It's good to have a few different styles as well - it looks beautiful to have a mix of wedges, slices, and spreadable cheese.

Remember that everything doesn't have to be pre-cut or sliced - soft meats or cheeses can be presented with a knife, and using a wood or marble board makes it easy for guests to serve themselves.

Step 5: Add Some Color

If you've followed the steps above, you should have a beautiful array of delicacies that are ready to serve. But before you put out that tray, make sure it is visually appealing. Monochromatic food that looks mostly brown or gray is boring! Add some extra edible pops of color to give your beautiful creation that "wow" factor. Bright red radishes, purple grapes, or salad greens add freshness as well as being visually beautiful. If you're serving cheeses, a mix of red raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries can be gorgeous!

Step 6: Accessorize!

Now that you have a gorgeous charcuterie masterpiece, don't forget to make sure that everything is in place for guests to help themselves. Add a cheese or salami knife if needed! Our teeny tiny spoons are perfect for letting guests serve themselves from those cute little dishes, and our spice cellar is also a great choice for giving guests the option of salt, pepper, or spices. One serving fork is a must - a few are even better so that multiple guests can serve at the same time. And don't forget lots of napkins!

Contemporary White and Gold Cheese Server Set

Teeny Tiny Spoon and Salt Cellar

Step 7: Serve in Style!

The last step is the easiest - take your fabulous, one of a kind creation out to the buffet or coffee table and enjoy your repast with the ones you love. Remember to keep an eye out and replenish things when needed, and keep the fun and deliciousness going!

As a thank you for reading, here's a 15% off coupon on any of our dining items - use SERVEITUP at checkout!

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