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How to build a charcuterie board like a pro

You’re going to want to bookmark this for your next big bash.

You’re going to want to bookmark this for your next big bash

Charcuterie boards have long been a go-to for anyone who loves to entertain — and it's easy to see why. Not only do these boards serve a big crowd, they provide variety by incorporating a wide range of flavours, present the perfect opportunity to show off some freshly-baked bread and give us all an excuse to indulge in a few of our favourite carbs (as if we really needed one). However, putting together an impressive spread requires more than simply plopping a couple meats and cheeses down on a plate. So, to help us master the art of charcuterie, we asked chef and food stylist Rossy Earle for some tips on assembling a board that'll be devoured in seconds. Here's what she had to say:  

You’re going to want to bookmark this for your next big bash. 0:24
  • Start with a nice piece of wood, marble or whatever you have on hand, as your base, and begin placing down your biggest pieces first (ie. a big wheel of cheese or a whole piece of cured meat), using them as focal points that you can highlight with the remainder of your additions. A good rule is to use about 2 oz each of cheese and meats per person.  
  • If using whole wheels of cheese or pieces of meat, always slice or cut a wedge out. Nobody likes to be the first to cut into a beautiful whole wheel of cheese.
  • Cheese is best served at room temperature, so make sure to take it out of the fridge an hour before your guests arrive. Make use of different cuts of cheese (cubes, wedges, slices etc.) and try to incorporate different textures, colours and consistencies (creamy, hard, fresh, blue, aged etc.).
  • For meats, especially cured ones, always pre-cut as much as possible. Make use of different folds when displaying your meats (layers, rolls, cubes, slices etc.) and choose a wide range of different proteins (pork, beef, duck, smoked meat, pâtés etc.).
  • Use a contrast of sweet and savoury accompaniments: honeys, jams, jellies, preserves, mustards, pickled vegetables, fruits (both fresh and dried — just make sure to avoid ones that oxidize quickly), olives and nuts for an added crunch.
  • Add a variety of soft breads (sliced baguette, ciabatta, whole grain, crusty, small buns etc.) and range of crackers (crisps, crostini, bread sticks etc.). These can go on your board, or in a separate basket if needed.
  • Do NOT overcrowd the board. It's important to leave enough room for cutting and signage.
  • Provide separate knives for each type cheese and incorporate small signage so your guests can easily identify everything on your board.