How to Build an Amazing Charcuterie Board/Grazing Platter for Entertaining!
A Charcuterie Plate (aka grazing platter) is always popular when entertaining, and is particularly inviting and welcoming with guests because they offer an abundance of different food options (so no matter who’s on a diet, there is usually ‘something’ they can nibble on), while being visually impressive and mouthwatering. They are also easy. Most people love to graze (especially when you have a drink in hand!), and it is the perfect accompaniment for our Christmas ‘get togethers!’ A great charcuterie board offers a variety of stunning tastes and textures.
Charcuterie (shar-koo-tar-ee) is a French word devoted to the branch of cooking pertaining to curated meat products: ham, sausage, bacon, salted meats etc… A charcuterie board is basically a platter filled with cured meats, veggies, pate/dips, cheeses, bread, crackers, fruit and snack bites that offer a variety of bold flavours… or as we know it in Oz a “nibblies platter” or the old “chip ‘n’ dip plate”.
In years gone by, we Aussies would offer our guests a tuppaware – segregated plastic container filled with some cheddar chunks, Jatz crackers, the old French onion dip, possibly a cabana stick and if you were super lucky, some cocktail onions. These days savvy entertainers are creating visually stunning creations to wow their guests and have them ‘begging to try some mouthwatering delicacies’.
I remember when Mum would serve her nibbles platter while Dad would be cooking the BBQ as a dinner appetizer. Today, charcuterie boards are appropriate for many more occasions such as an afternoon/school snack, a light lunch, as an easy ‘help yourself’ dinner, a morning tea with friends or as a meal.
You can use almost anything these days as a base , be it a decorative ceramic platter or stand, a wooden board, or a slate tile, a glass sheet, banana leaves etc.. I’ve seen a huge beautifully baked piece of flatbread used as a base (kind of like a humungous pizza base).
The list of foods you include on a board is endless and only limited by your imagination as illustrated above.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
Board (choose a board or platter according to how big a spread you want to make):
Small serving bowls for spreads, sauces, small components etc …adds visual variation.
Meats such as sausages, prosciutto, salamis, ham, chorizo, mortadella, spec, bacon, cured (deli)meats and sticks.
Cheeses 3-4 different types (soft :brie, camembert, goats cheese, Hard: peccorino, grand Padano, Romano, Reggio, semi-soft: cheddar, gouda, edam, butterkase etc…)
Crackers and breads 2-3 types rye, baguette, grissini, croissant, jatz? The list is endless….
Nuts 2-3 types (almonds, cashews, macadamias, pecans, walnuts, pistachios…
Fruits both fresh and dried 1-2 types) (apple slices, pear slices, mango, nectarines, grapes red and white, strawberries, orange and mandarins, raspberries, black and blueberries, figs, dates, apricots….
Dips/pates/cheeseballs/terrines/spreads both sweet and savoury 2-3 types depending on how big your platter is.
Small snack bites: Fresh honeycomb, rocky road bites, fruit and nut candy rolls/apricot fruit bites, Chocolate (dark, milk, white), gherkin/pickled red onions/pickled mushies, sundried toms/olives/sweet red capsicum bites filled with cream cheese – pickled antipasto veggies, roasted cherry tomatoes, roasted cauliflower, asparagus, roasted red capsicum, radishes and fennel bulb, raw veggies etc…
Sprigs of herbs (parsley, sage, dill…)
Serving utensils, toothpicks, forks, cheese knives…
Think about texture, shape, colour and flavour, place contrasting shapes beside each other and similar shapes away from each other. Mix up colours and textures and shapes.,
- Roast any veggies and prepare dips, cheeseballs etc…
- Place larger components on the board first. Place grapes in a pile to create visual height and as a centrepiece.,
- Place your dished items (condiments, spreads, dips etc..) and cheeses randomly
- Add the meats (play with the shapes ie roll some, leave some loose and arrange some into triangles and layer for creative presentation appeal.
- Add crackers.
- Fill in the nooks and crannies with piles of small bites and snacks, nuts.
- Place serving utensils in cheeses, spoons in condiments if required and garnish with greenery (sprigs or herbs).