Are you looking to level up your charcuterie board making skills, or don’t know where to start? Look no further - we’ve compiled a list of helpful tips and product recommendations to help anyone from the total beginner to the charcuterie connoisseur.
1. Mixture of Textures
We think that having a variety of textures on your Charcuterie board is essential for keeping your board interesting, both visually and taste-wise! We recommend having a mixture of soft and hard cheeses - we love the gooey Pearl Wen by Caws Cenarth, and the crumbly Caerphilly by the Blaenafon Cheddar Co. We recommend also balancing the textures of your charcuterie meats - a thinly sliced meat and a firmer salami-style meat work well. Ensure you also mix up the textures of both your pantry and fresh accoutrements; crisp crackers, crunchy nuts, juicy olives, and ripe fruit are all great additions to your board. For a uniquely textured addition to your board, why not try some Pate? Our favourite is Patchwork’s Chicken Liver Pate with Chase Smoked Vodka.
2. Variety of Flavours
We recommend using a variety of different cured meats, including those smoked and flavoured by herbs and spices. We love pairing Trealy Farm’s Beech Smoked Ham with one of their uniquely flavoured uncut sausages. You can also get creative with flavoured cheeses - try a twist on a traditional cheddar, like Blaenafon Cheddar Co’s ‘Cymru Crunch’, flavoured with pickled onions, chives, and Welsh Ale. Of course, we love the traditional cheddars, bries, and blues; but there are many creative cheese-making processes which result in some very unique flavours. An example of this is Caws Cenarth’s ‘Golden Cenarth’, a soft cheese washed with cider - a great addition to your board. Depending on the serving size, including different flavours of nuts, chutneys, and antipasti can help you add variety and interest to your board. We recommend finding a nice balance between tried and tested components and new, exciting flavours.
3. Add Fresh Ingredients
Filling the gaps on your board with fresh fruit and vegetables like grapes, pineapple, and various berries will not only make your board look fuller and professionally made, but also will make a refreshing accompaniment to the richer components of your board. Fresh, raw veg like carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, and bell peppers also make great accompaniments, especially when your board has dips and chutney!
4. Antipasti & Chutney
Antipasti and Chutney are VITAL components of your board as they will bring out the best of your main elements (the cured meats and cheeses). They will also add flavourful variety to your board and allow your guests to experience some really unique combinations - eat17’s Chilli Bacon Jam and Pear, Date, and Cognac Chutney by Snowdonia Cheese Co. are our top picks. As well as using different flavours of Olives, make use of other Antipasti like sun-dried tomatoes, stuffed sweet-peppers, or the Real Olive Company’s Hot Pickled Garlic.
5. Know your Guests
It seems obvious, but it’s an important aspect of putting together a charcuterie board - taking into consideration the number of guests when buying your items. With this, knowing your guests well comes in handy. Do they have big appetites? Are they really into cheese? Do they have more traditional tastes or do they enjoy unique flavours? Knowing these things influences what and how much you buy. Working out amounts can be tricky - some sources recommend a certain weight of cheese and meat per guest, but we think you should gauge this depending on different factors - the sizes of your items, the appetite of your guests, and whether your board is being served as a starter or main course. Of course, it’s probably better to have too much than too little (especially if your board is the main course) - you can always store items and replenish when needed.
6. Mix Savoury and Sweet
We’ve mentioned adding fruit, but why stop there? Placing some sweet items (like Olive et Al’s Cinnamon & Vanilla Nuts) will help balance your board. Chocolate also works very well as a contrast to the more savoury items on your board - make sure to experiment, but we’ve found that a rich dark chocolate works especially well. Our top pick is Brecon Chocolate’s 70% Dark Chocolate Coffee Bar.
7. Try adding something Warm
Adding something warm to your charcuterie board will take your board to the next level, especially if it is being served as a main course. Cheddar Gorge Cheese Co. Cheese Straws are a PERFECT warm addition to your board - simply pop them in the oven for a few minutes. Alternatively, baked soft cheese or warm bread are certain crowd pleasers!
8. Play with Layout and Presentation
With this tip, you’ll have to use your creativity and make sure to experiment with what works best! We recommend starting with your key elements, the cured meats and cheeses first. After that, lay down other large items (crackers or breads), then build the rest of the board around them. There are many ways you could present the items on your board - try folding your cured meats, pre-slicing your cheese, and layering items. For any wet components, like olives in oil or chutneys and dips, try presenting them in ramekins. This avoids staining your board and ensures a high standard of presentation! Also ensure you serve your board with the appropriate utensils - tongs, serving spoons, napkins, et. cetera.
9. Serve with Wine
Nothing goes better with cheese and cured meats like wine (well, to be fair - wine goes well with everything)! Depending on the number (and preference) of your guests, we recommend having both a red and white on hand. We think that White Castle Regent Red Wine and the Tintern Parva Bryn Heulog White Wine make the perfect pairing for a well-curated charcuterie board.
10. Finishing touches - Herbs, Spices, Honey, Olive Oil
Adding a few finishing touches such as drizzling your board with good quality honey or Olive Oil will make your board look (and taste) spectacular. Using sea salt and spices where appropriate adds depth to your board - try sprinkling Halen Mon’s Garlic and Chilli Salt on a baked soft cheese. Our favourite tip, however: add some fresh herbs to your board - whilst this won’t do much for taste, it will make your board look magazine-worthy!