A charcuterie board doesn’t follow a recipe, but is instead a lesson in composition. Put together the perfect charcuterie spread with diverse textures and flavors using this easy cheat sheet.
Whole-muscle cuts of meat are shaved into slices, usually paper-thin. Common examples are proscuitto, lomo de cerdo, a cured pork tenderloin often just referred to as lomo, and bresaola, beef tenderloin that’s been air-dried and salted.
When using dry-cured meat such as salami or mortadella on a charcuterie board, mix it up with complementary and contrasting flavors. For example, a chorizo with a strong garlic flavor or a spicy sopressata should be balanced by something with a sweeter flavor profile, like mild and buttery saucisson sec.
When pairing cheese with charcuterie, it is all about opposites. One element needs to contribute a sensation of tart, citrusy, mouth-watering brightness to cut the fat and protein of the other. Charcuterie board staple cheeses are soft creamy blue or Brie, a pungent washed-rind variety, a hard aged salty cheese, a tangy goat cheese, and something sharp.
Pickled vegetables complement the rich and salty flavors of meats and cheeses. Pickled items like red peppers, cucumbers, carrots, olives and red onions are a palate cleanser in between bites.
As a textural contrast, serve crusty bread, plain crackers, plain breadsticks or plain crostini. Mellow tasting items allow the flavor profile of the cheese and charcuterie to be at the forefront.
Mustards, made with a variety of sweet and savory herbs and spices, add complex flavor to a board. The tangy and spicy flavors also balance the richness of the cheeses and meats.
Add a sweet component like an infused honey or jam to counterbalance the salty and fatty cheeses and meats. Dried fruit like apricots, cranberries or figs are also a nice complement to a charcuterie board.