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Art on a Plate: The Unstoppable Trend of Charcuterie Boards in Modern Culinary Culture

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Charcuterie boards are everywhere you look. According to Simplot Foods, 52% of Americans know about charcuterie. Of those who have tried it, 76% love the concept. 

Charcuterie board with meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables.Pin
Charcuterie board. Photo Credit: Canva

These boards are on social media feeds and in magazines or books. More restaurants offer a charcuterie board as a shareable appetizer or main entree. Entire tables decked out with tons of meats, cheeses, bread, fruits, nuts, and spreads. Why? 

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Charcuterie boards are gorgeous. Even simple boards can be “works of art,” according to Lauren Moss of WNDU News. They’re colorful, and no two are ever the same. 

According to the Institute of Culinary Education, the term “charcuterie” comes from the French chair cuit. The literal translation of this word is “cooked flesh.” It refers to the preservation of meat and came about before the days of refrigeration. Today, charcuterie has taken on a whole new meaning. These boards have become intricate, often stunning, displays of a chef’s individuality. 

Why is Charcuterie so Appealing? 

Charcuterie boards are perfect for holiday entertaining occasions but also all the rage at baby and wedding showers, birthdays, and backyard get-togethers with friends. You could even bring one to the beach with a suitable storage container.

Charcuterie platters are easy to put together. They’re a stress-free option, as opposed to more traditional meals. The more random they are, the better. 

Charcuterie boards scale to any party size. Some are perfect for large crowds, like this seafood charcuterie board, but they’re also excellent for an intimate date night with your partner. 

Woman's hand grabbing an oyster from a large charcuterie board.Pin
Seafood Charcuterie. Photo Credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival

These boards require zero culinary skills. If you can cut a piece of cheese, you can make a charcuterie board. Get the kids involved, too. They love to help place all the goodies. 

Cleanup is easy. You only have to clean a few serving vessels.

Charcuterie boards are great for entertaining since they encourage people to gather, socialize, try new foods, or choose their favorite pairings.

Have a theme in mind

Charcuterie boards — or grazing platters — should have a theme. A theme will give you a direction for your planning, buying, and building. Keep in mind that virtually anything goes.

Use the seasons to your advantage. For instance, incorporate turkey, mini pumpkins, or apples as great options for an autumn board. Use foil-wrapped candies, cookies, cranberries, oranges, or chocolate salami for Christmas

Large Thanksgiving charcuterie board with smoked turkey.Pin
Autumn board. Photo Credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival

A Valentine’s Day board would be great with raspberries or chocolate-covered strawberries. Make it in the shape of a heart to show that special someone you care.

Hosting a baby shower? The board could incorporate pink or blue foods, along with cute baby favors. Birthday boards should include the favorite foods of the person you’re celebrating. 

Edible flowers will add a unique touch to a board for spring. Seasonal fruits, like strawberries, are also welcome on these boards. 

A game day board could include football-shaped cookies decorated with the teams’ colors.

Make it yourself

Businesses that focus just on charcuteries are cropping up everywhere, taking advantage of the popularity of charcuterie boards and grazing platters. You can even purchase pre-made boards at your local grocery store or online. These tend to be pricey and usually don’t have nearly as many ingredients as the homemade versions. 

General Rules for Planning A Board

The Huffington Post recommends using at least three types of each type of food for a charcuterie board. Incorporate different types of cheeses, including soft, hard, and semi-soft cheeses. For more visual appeal, use several different colors of fruit, like berries, apples, and grapes.

Try new things on every platter, whether a new cheese, starfruit, kiwi, persimmon, or a different type of meat.

Use small bowls or ramekins for dips, jams, pickles, and olives. Be sure to provide serving tools like spoons, forks, tongs, and cheese knives. Affordable utensil kits are available online and at home stores.

Decide which board or boards to use to display the charcuterie. A giant board isn’t necessary. Several smaller boards are just as effective. 

Plan on serving 2-3 ounces of meats and cheeses for an appetizer portion. For fruit and vegetables, buy smaller quantities. You will only use one or two apples, even for a large crowd.

If you incorporate plants, make sure they’re all edible. Everything on a charcuterie board should be edible unless it is obviously purely decorative, such as a “Happy Birthday” sign.

Colorful dessert charcuterie board with cookies, candies and fruit.Pin
Christmas Grazing Board. Photo Credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival

Don’t Break the Bank

A charcuterie “board” doesn’t necessarily have to be made of wood. Use whatever you have on hand. Serving boards can be marble, china, or even plastic. Buy them at garage or rummage sales, flea markets, or wherever you can find lovely display pieces at a discount. 

Don’t over-buy. It’s easy to get carried away and spend hundreds of dollars on a charcuterie board, but that’s not necessary. Check your pantry or refrigerator before shopping, and use what you have on hand. 

Your refrigerator’s jams, pickles, or olives are perfect for a board. So are the nuts and crackers stored in the pantry. Also, buy at discount stores instead of high-end stores to lower your costs.

The Assembly Process

Start with larger items, since they will be focal points, and space them out on the board. The cheeses are an excellent place to start.

Take hard cheese out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before service for better flavor. Hard cheeses that aren’t quite at room temperature are easier to cut, according to Food and Wine

The next step is placing the bowls with mustards, jams, jellies, olives, and pickles. Bowls are also good for fruit like blueberries to keep them in one place. 

For a stunning board, arrange meats artistically. Meat roses are all the rage, but there are other artistic ways to place them. They should be easy for guests to pick up, so don’t just place them flat on the board. Fold the meats into ribbons or rolls or make small clumps, so picking them up with a small fork is easy. Prepare these ahead of time, wrap them in plastic, and place them in the refrigerator until needed.

Fill in spaces with other fruit cut into single-serve portions. Dried fruits work well here, too. Finally, add nuts and smaller items, but save room on the board for bread and crackers.

If there are still some empty holes on the board, strategically place small sprigs of fresh herbs or greens, like arugula or baby kale. 

Grazing platter with meats, cheeses and fruits.Pin
Grazing Board. Photo Credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival

The Final Slice

Charcuterie boards are not just trendy. They are a testament to the joy of sharing and the art of presentation. They are more than just a collection of meats and cheeses. They’re a canvas for creativity and a centerpiece for conversation with friends and family. Best of all, there’s no wrong way to make a charcuterie. So gather up your favorite ingredients, and let a charcuterie board make your next gathering a memorable one.

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This article was produced by Media Decision and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Beth Neels

Author: Beth Neels

Title: Owner

Expertise: canning, game meat cooking, smoking

Bio:

Beth Neels is an entrepreneur, blogger, photographer, author, and recipe developer. She founded Binky’s Culinary Carnival in 2014, focusing on “Crafting delicious recipes with sustainable ingredients.” She has been featured in multiple online publications, including MSN, Reader’s Digest, Associated Press, and Parade.

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