Cocktail Party Newflash: Charcuterie boards are the new hors d’oeuvres. Need proof? Just put out a couple of trays and see the hordes descend. Before you know it, you’ve just hosted the best cocktail party ever, and all you’ve got left to show for it are a few crumbs of artisan cheddar and a lonely olive hanging off a wooden cocktail pick.
So what is charcuterie, and how do you create it?
In addition to being all about cured meats—think prosciutto, dry cured sausages, salami, and more—the modern interpretation also includes cheeses, olives, marinated vegetables and their accoutrements. There’s something gloriously social about gathering around platters of delicious mouthfuls that your guests slice and pile and serve to each other.
What’s great about a charcuterie spread is that it can be uniquely yours—in both beauty and taste. Half the battle is how it looks, so when you include a variety of interesting heights and textures, you’re already winning. Your next step is to create an assortment that offers something for everyone.
Crave a little kick? Slice up some hot cured salami, and set out some bowls of spicy pickles, olives, or spicy Extreme Beans. Cheese your thing? Head to your local cheese counter and find some new varieties to pair well with meats. Add some quick-to-prepare bites, snazzy crackers, and some small bowls of savouries and other yummy things, and you’re all set to lay out the ultimate party starter.
HOW TO CREATE A CHARCUTERIE BOARD THEY’LL RAVAGE
WHAT YOU NEED
Insider Tip: Steer clear of anything requiring cutlery or plate juggling. With the ubiquitous drink in one hand, your guests will wants snacks they can eat with just the other.
The essential ingredients for a smashing Charcuterie Board:
Cured meats: Try proscuitto, ham, thinly sliced turkey, salami.
Dry sausage: Check out the gourmet flavours that a great grocery or specialty store has on feature.
Cheese: Go with a variety of textures, types, and colours. For instance, create an assortment that includes a nice wedge of Brie, an old Cheddar, something soft and spreadable, a milder option like Gouda or Manchego, and maybe something interesting like a British Wenseydale or Pacific Rock.
Marinated vegetables: Add stuffed hot peppers, sweet peppers, eggplant, zucchini, artichokes.
Extras: Have little bowls of marinated olives, gherkins, pickles, chutney or other spreads available.
The implements: You’ll need some interesting platters and plates, like the amazing wooden plank you see here, and these clean white ceramic servers. A marble cheese board, like this one from EQ3 is a great addition, too. Make sure you have cheese knives and the indispensable cheese signs to make choosing easy.
WHAT YOU DO
Proscuitto Wrapped Extreme Beans
1 piece of provolone cheese
1 slice of prosciutto
1 jar of Extreme Bean Hot & Spicy
Lay the slice of prosciutto flat. Lay the provolone flat on the proscuitto (cut in half if necessary). Take an Extreme Bean and place it at one end. Roll ingredients together. Slice the roll into two pieces and serve.
B’nOlive Bocconcini Skewers
1 jar B’nOlives
Balsamic reduction (purchase ready made in the gourmet department of your grocery store)
Freshly ground black pepper
Place one grape tomato, one B’nOlive, and one bocconcini ball on a wooden cocktail skewer. Repeat to make as many as desired. Place on serving tray and drizzle with balsamic reduction. Season with black pepper to taste.
Mini Baguettes/Cracker Bites
Top round crackers (we like Kii Crisps) with charcuterie bites. Try fit & walnut spread, a piece of proscuitto, and a few slivers of parmesan. Or, this combo:
1 date and walnut Kii Crisp
1-2 slices of dry salami
A schmear of herb and garlic cheese spread
1/2 a B’nOlive
Baker Street Yummi! Dessert in a Jar
Available in flavours like Red Velvet, Chocolate Mousse, and Tiramisu, these easy-to-eat sweets are the perfect end to the yummiest party you’ve been to all year.
Ready to create your very own Charcuterie Board? Get started right here.
Where to buy:
EQ3 Marble Cheese Board, $19.99
EQ3 Ridge Cheese Knives, $19.99
Cheese Markers, PC Home (price varies)
Matt & Steve’s The Extreme Bean and B’nOlive, at major retailers across Canada and online at www.mattandsteve.com, $4.50-$4.99)
Baker Street Yummi! Desserts in a Jar: selected Loblaws stores in Ontario. See website for more info.