We’re saying BYOB this holiday season! Okay, sure you can bring your own booze, if appropriate, but we mean Build Your Own Board! That’s right – we’re talking Charcuterie!
It’s a term that you may be hearing more often than not lately. Charcuterie boards have been taking hosting households by storm and are seen more on restaurant menus and Instagram posts than ever before! But what is charcuterie? And why is it on a board? Glad you asked…
Charcuterie is a word that was originated in France, it describes meat that has been preserved and cured. As for the charcuterie board, it is the chose platform to highlight these cured meats, that are are accompanied by delicious cheeses, crackers, fruit, vegetables, mustards, chutneys, nuts, and seeds! Typically served on a beautiful wood or marble board, it’s a stand out at any party.
While some would argue that the cured meat is the star of the show, we would have to disagree and say that cheese is our favourite part of the charcuterie board. Between the variety of styles, textures, and flavours, picking your cheeses is truly a joy. To help you get a better understanding of what cheese you should have represented when building your own board, we broke down the 5 most popular styles to showcase. So follow along, BYOB, and you’ll have a holiday spread that guests will be talking about on their ride home!
Fresh cheese may be the most underrated component of your cheese board. Fresh cheese types typically include mozzarella, feta, and goat! With a simple and mild flavour, it’s a perfect break when you are indulging in a lot of strong flavours. Although fresh cheese doesn’t have that complex of a flavour profile, it’s spreadable and a perfect pairing with other charcuterie board favourites.
What did we use?On our charcuterie board we used herbed chèvre, which pairs beautifully with Sauvignon Blanc.
Soft cheeses are delicious and go especially well with the fruit components, and sweeter chutneys on your charcuterie board. Popular soft cheeses include Brie, Roquefort, Camembert, and Gorgonzola! These cheeses are so creamy and have just the right amount of tang! They are best served at room temperature.
What did we use?On our charcuterie board we used a double cream brie, it pairs best with sweeter components like pears, grapes, and figs, but also goes well with prosciutto and salami. Pinot Noir also tastes great with brie, due to the fact that its flavour does not overpower the taste of this decadent cheese.
Semi-soft cheese is a category where you may get the most variety. Semi-soft cheeses can vary from mild flavour to strong flavour, and also come in an assortment of flavours, or smoked to add another layer of complexity. Some examples of semi-soft cheese include, Havarti, Monterey Jack, and the most popular, Gouda! Semi-soft cheese is a chance for you to get really creative with your board, as there is so many to choose from.
What did we use?For our charcuterie board we used Black Truffle Gouda. It is less sweet than a traditional Gouda, but has a musky aroma. This Black Truffle Gouda pairs well with a fresh baguette, a bold Cabernet Sauvignon, or a pilsner.
Firm cheeses have a strong and developed flavour profile, as they are usually aged for multiple years. The older the cheese, the sharper the flavour. Some popular firm cheeses include Cheddar, Swiss, and Emmental!Although these cheeses have a bold taste, they are easy to pair and pack a punch when the pairing is just right!
What did we use?For our charcuterie board, we used an Organic 3 Year Old Cheddar. This cheese pairs well with salami, walnuts, and red pepper jelly, it also tastes great alongside a dark beer.
Blue cheese is definitely the most misunderstood of the group. It has a bad reputation, and not everyone is a fan of eating this cheese because of it’s strong odor and taste. Most blue cheeses are layered with salty and savory tones, but you can find blues that have a lighter taste. These typically have less blue pieces on them and are softer in texture. Challenge your guests to step outside their comfort zone and try some blue cheese. They may walk away with a new favourite!
What did we use?For our charcuterie board we picked a Stilton blue, which is more on the savory side. This blue pairs well with crusty bread, pears, honey, and black olives. As far as drinks go, sparkling wines and stouts compliment the blue cheese without it losing its kick.
WE GOT THE CHEESE, NOW WHAT?
While the meat and cheese are the shining stars of the board, you don’t want to forget about the supporting roles! We used some of our favourite products and listed them below, letting you know why we consider them charcuterie essentials.
Blue Diamond – Artisan Nut Thins
Wheat-free, gluten-free, and baked into a delicious cracker, they pack a serious crunch! They pair wonderfully with all the cheeses and meats!
Mary’s Organic Crackers – Superseed Basil and Garlic
These crackers bring a unique texture to your board while also adding a delicious flavour. They are organic, vegan, gluten-free, and made of a blend of sunflower, pumpkin, and poppy seeds. The flavour of garlic and basil pairs well with the firm cheeses, semi-soft cheeses, and cured meats.
Nairn’s – Organic Oat Crackers
Nairn’s Organic Oat Crackers are filled with delicious organic oats and have a nice toasted flavour! They pair wonderfully savory and sweet flavours.
Maison Orphée – Organic Old Fashioned Mustard
This old fashioned mustard adds the perfect amount of body to everything it’s paired with. Since the mustard seeds are slightly crushed, it also adds a great texture. Try pairing it with salami or a semi-soft cheese.
Stonewall Kitchen – Red Pepper Jelly
This red pepper jelly is a charcuterie board staple. It is a delicious blend of red peppers, cane sugar, and cayenne pepper. We love to pair it with fresh and soft cheeses for an extra kick!
Acropolis – Organic Engraved Kalamata Olives
Kalamata olives are delicious on their own, and even more delicious as a component of our charcuterie board! They pair well with the fresh cheeses, soft cheeses, and cured meats!
On our charcuterie board we also added a freshly baked baguette, organic grapes and pears, pecans, and shelled pistachios. We also threw in some rosemary for a little bit of added flair!
While building your own charcuterie board can seem overwhelming, once you have the basics down it will be a breeze! Pick your meats and cheese and from there find crackers, organic fruits and vegetables, nuts, and natural condiments that will compliment your spread! Remember to have fun with it, and don’t be scared to get creative! Give your guests a holiday experience to remember with a delicious charcuterie board, made by you!