Winter Charcuterie Board
- January 4, 2022
- 5 / 5
You will never struggle again for a last-minute appetizer as long as you keep your pantry stocked with a few key ingredients to make this lovely Winter Charcuterie Board.
I love to entertain. I love to plan, schedule, shop, cook, bake, yada yada yada. But, sometimes I enjoy the little impromptu get-togethers over a Phoenix Suns game, a dominoes show-down or look-who’s-in-town-and -just-dropped-by moment. Those are actually pretty special moments even though I might be somewhat unprepared.
With a few key items, you will be able to throw together a spectacular board that will look like you had been planning it for weeks!
The items you need to keep on hand in order for a quick board are as follows:
Now, I confess that I am a cheese lover so I always have a variety of cheese in my fridge. I also enjoy the heck out of charcuterie meats. So, because these are always in my fridge, it’s so easy for me to throw together a quick board.
But, let’s be realistic…it’s pretty rare for those last-minute soirées to happen, so go ahead and plan it out!
Let’s begin with cheese…
I like to offer 3 cheeses typically. People seem to enjoy the hard cheeses like cheddar or Manchego. I always have a soft creamy cheese like triple-cream Brie or Camembert. And, I round it out with a blue cheese of some sort (Roquefort, Gorgonzola or English Stilton). That seems to take care of everyone’s palette. Depending on how large of a board you are making, you could add another cheese or two. Also, if you want to buy in bulk, like at Costco, you can keep the varieties down to a few but portion them differently (sliced or chunked) to appear like you have more varieties. Figure about 3-4 ounces of cheese per person.
When I think of the meats I want on the board, I always go for prosciutto. It’s readily available and fills in nicely around the board. I buy a few different choices of meats to compliment the prosciutto such as soppressata, spicy calabrese or genoa.
For ease, you can buy them precut in round slices or you can buy a log and slice it yourself. However you choose, plan on about 2 ounces per person.
I always keep a variety of crackers on hand. I especially love the ones with figs/raisins/nuts baked into them. There are so many varieties now of these so choose whichever ones speak to you. A lavosh-type cracker is wonderful on a board, either broken up into irregular pieces or small rounds. I also like thin rectangular crackers or toast-like brioche crackers. The key with the crackers is a variety of tastes, shapes, and colors.
I also keep a variety of what I call “condiments” on hand. That always includes honey and fig jam. Other condiments that are amazing are olives or olive tapenade, pesto and for a winter board, cranberry sauce. I dish these up in small little bowls for guests to spread on the crackers along with their cheese and meats. If I’m putting honey out, I like to have a small honey dipper but if you don’t have one, a small spoon will work.
What differentiates a regular board from a winter board is the use of winter fruits. Here I use both fresh and dried fruits. Consider persimmons, pomegranates, and Opal apples (they don’t turn brown) for fresh fruits and apricots, figs, raisins and cranberries for the dried fruits.
Finally, don’t forget the nuts. Candied pecans, pistachio nuts and marcona almonds are ideal for filling in the empty spaces.
To arrange the board, start by placing your cheeses on the board. If cheese needs to be cut, leave a little space around it. I like to slice or chunk parts of the cheese to show people what to do.
Next, I add my condiment bowls and then fill in some of the spaces with the meats.
Crackers come next. The crackers should be kept together based on variety and then fanned out in the empty spaces. If your board isn’t big enough, you can always move the crackers to a separate basket or platter.
Finally, I fill in all the little gaps with dried or fresh fruit and nuts. I like to sprinkle some fresh herb sprigs over the board. This will also differentiate summer vs winter board (rosemary and thyme in the winter, basil and tarragon in the summer).
All you need now are a few serving pieces (cheese knives, small spoons for the condiments, tongs or small forks for the meats) and a great bottle of wine.
This is an easy way to make a huge statement! Enjoy and happy New Year!