Someone once said that the reason charcuterie boards are popular with Millennials is because they grew up on Lunchables. Whether or not there is any truth to that, the fact remains that charcuterie boards are increasingly popular. So how do you make yours stand out?
If you’ve watched any cooking show, they ask about the story behind the dish. So, tell a story through your food choice by creating a themed charcuterie board centered around a cherished memory. Set your theme with your serving board when you use a Wood Chart serving tray to anchor the story and make your spread stand out.
What is a Charcuterie Board?
There are two questions here – the first being about the board/dish/plate and the second being about the contents of said dish. While nearly anything can be used as the serving board, we love using Wood Chart serving trays featuring lake art of your favorite place. It adds personality and character to your presentation, and as the food gets consumed, the expertly etched detail of the lake art comes into view, enhancing the overall experience.
In terms of what the food element of a charcuterie board consists of, the answer is meat, cheese, nuts, and both fresh and dried fruits. This is not an exhaustive list. Just as the serving board presents an opportunity to show personality, so does the food selection.
What is on a Traditional Charcuterie Board?
The consensus seems to be split on if charcuterie originated in France or Italy, so the answer to ‘what is on a traditional charcuterie board?’ tends to vary slightly. However, there are common elements and themes to the contents.
The basics of all charcuterie boards are:
- A wood serving tray
- Fresh Fruit
- Dried Fruit
- Bread or Crackers
Meats for Your Charcuterie Board
Charcuterie is not fondu. It is a simple, elegant dish that can be consumed as is, without any further cooking or preparing. Thus, the meats need to be fully cooked and ready to eat. Going strictly traditional, the serving board would only have dried meats on it. However, delicious cold cuts like prosciutto make a great addition.
Cheeses for Your Charcuterie Board
Generally, charcuterie boards offer a selection of at least three different types of cheese, ideally with a variety of flavors and textures. Top picks include brie, aged cheddar, and jalapeno Monterey jack. Lots of people also like to include a bit of goat cheese. Cheese is one of the first elements that became popularized and widely accepted as an addition to the perfect serving tray.
The Perfect Fruits for Your Charcuterie Board
Common examples include dates, raisins, berries, and grapes. Grapes and berries are so popular thanks to the vibrant color and juicy texture they bring to the board. They add a fresh, crisp contrast to the more savory flavors from the meats and cheeses. Dates are also a common choice as they pair very well with dried meats, again adding sweetness for contrast. Some even wrap pieces of salami around a date for a unique and delectable bite.
Nuts on Your Charcuterie Board
When we say nuts, we don’t mean peanuts in the shell, uncracked walnuts, or unshelled pistachios. Charcuterie boards are easy to eat, thus the garnishes should be as well. Nuts and preserves are not the stars of the show, and they are traditionally used as filler and as a garnish. For a knock-out spread, opt for some tasty nut offerings like Marcona almonds or candied pecans.
Preserves and Spreads for Your Charcuterie Board
Preserves and honey are typically put out in small dishes as they are consumed in small quantities. A dash of sweet chili jelly with cream cheese on a crisp cracker with a drizzle of truffle honey plucked from a Wood Chart serving board is exceptionally delicious.
Choosing Bread or Crackers for Your Charcuterie Board
This is a personal choice regarding if you choose to incorporate any breads or crackers on the Wood Chart serving tray itself or if you want them on a separate serving board. If you do include bread, make sure it is cut into pieces that can be consumed in just a few bites.
Our 5 Favorite Crackers for Charcuterie Boards:
- Wheat Thins
- Rice Crackers
- Rain Coast Crisps
Dos and Don’ts of Styling a Charcuterie Board
The first and most obvious answer is to have a beautiful serving board. We love subbing in a wood board with a Wood Chart serving tray featuring lake art. Once you’ve got the base figured out, you need to assemble your elements.
Bringing everything together in one place will help give you an idea of how much space each element needs, which will help determine how much filler you need. Remember, you want your serving board to look full and lush. Start with your meats and your cheeses; these are the stars of the show, so they go on first.
Spread out and alternate your meats and cheeses
Make sure you have room for your preserves
Surround your key elements with fruits (fresh and dried)
Fill in any space with nuts and other fillers
Group all your cheeses together and all your meats together
Have very small groups – have enough in each section so people feel comfortable eating it
How to Adapt a Charcuterie Board for Dietary Restrictions
As with anything you create in your own home, you customize it to your own preferences. If you aren’t a fan of spice, don’t include capocollo in your meat offerings. If you are gluten sensitive/intolerant, use rice crackers. Have a strawberry allergy? Opt for grapes instead.
Your charcuterie serving tray will look and taste great because it’s made up of flavors and combinations that you like (and aren’t allergic/sensitive to). Once you’ve nailed the basics, it’s really easy to take it to the next level and customize your serving board.
Why People Love Charcuterie Boards
- They are scalable – you can make it as big or as small as you want
- They are customizable – very easy to adapt for dietary restrictions and flavor preferences
- You have endless options – you can go traditional or explore any theme
- They are portable – using a serving tray as your charcuterie board makes it easy to take to any party or event.
How to Create a Hawaii-Inspired Tropical Charcuterie Board
As stated above, charcuterie boards typically contain meats, cheeses, fruit, nuts, and preserves. To make a Hawaii-inspired charcuterie board and tell a story with your dish, start with a Wood Chart serving tray featuring the Hawaiian Islands.
When building your Hawaii-inspired tropical Charcuterie Board, make sure you’re pairing fruits and cheeses that complement each other well. A simple goat cheese will be perfect with the bright flavors of your tropical fruit.
Ideas for a Tropical Charcuterie Board
- Goat Cheese
- Pineapple – candied or fresh
- Bacon-wrapped dates
- Macadamia nuts
Don’t be afraid to break the rules and add elements that you wouldn’t find on a traditional serving board, like those tiny umbrellas instead of toothpicks. If it works for the theme and you like it, go for it. And don’t try to force a connection to every element. Having a theme and a matching wood chart serving tray is enough to add personality and make your dish stand out.
The Perfect Charcuterie Board to Bring to a Mardi Gras Party
Our New Orleans serving tray is the perfect base for your Mardi Gras-Inspired Charcuterie Board. This Wood Chart tray makes for a beautiful and functional backdrop or an exceptional hand-crafted host gift. Practical, functional, and delicious!
In terms of what goes on the serving board – embrace what is local and what you love. If boudin is your thing, add it! Thinly sliced king cake could be a fun bread element, and Cajun-spiced nuts will round out your flavors. Decorate your finished masterpiece with some strands of beads or toothpicks topped with Mardi Gras masks for a fun touch.
Meat Mardi Gras Inspired Appetizer Charcuterie Board
- Alligator bites
- Locally smoked meats
Sweet Treats Mardi Gras Inspired Dessert Charcuterie Board
- King cake
- Chocolate-covered strawberries
- Yogurt-dipped pretzels
- Purple, gold, and green candies
KidCuterie Snacks for Your Kids
We all know the biggest fans of snacks are kids! So, pick the perfect Wood Chart of a setting that will help them look back fondly on a favorite family memory, like a favorite family vacation, while they feast. Add treats to the serving board to make it perfect and kid-friendly.
Play Date KitCuterie Favorites
- Veggie Straws
- Cheese Sticks (String Cheese Optional)
Your Charcuterie, Your Way
Whether it’s for a night in for one, or a full spread for a party, charcuterie boards are about serving what you love. And what better way to showcase that than on a lake art serving tray that commemorates an awesome road trip with friends or that summer you spent at Cape Cod. Your serving board will stand out when you use it to tell a story through food.