When the holidays roll around you have to know that your turn to host will definitively come up. While for most people the idea of having to entertain gives them anxiety, there’s really a simple solution for your hosting dilemma … the classic charcuterie platter.
While ‘Charcuterie’ literally translated from French means “cured or dried meats”, it is more often used these days to describe the complete platter of combined meats, cheeses, grapes, breads or crackers, and even dips and spreads. For me a ‘charcuterie platter’ is a staple for entertaining. It serves as the perfect grazing dish during a cocktail party, for guests as they mingle before a seated dinner, or as the perfect way to feed your guests at a cocktail party.
One of the things I love most about charcuterie platters is how they work in any space. Small apartment ? No problem, break-up your charcuterie onto several smaller plates and display on a narrow shelf. If you have more room? Then go big! There’s nothing more impressive than an amazingly curated charcuterie board to wow your guests!
There is really no wrong way to put together a charcuterie platter, since you can add almost anything, provided the ingredients can sit out at room temperature. There are however a few tips I recommend you follow.
First; when laying out your ingredients make sure to build up different heights rather than laying everything flat. This can be done by using cheeses of different shapes, pleating over your cured meats for texture, building small bundles of grapes still on the stem, or even by adding mini bowls for your condiments.
When it comes to meats a spicy one is my favorite, but for those who many have a less adventurous palette a simple prosciutto is the perfect choice. For this specific board I chose five different types of meats, two thicker ones; a Spanish chorizo and a Hungarian salami, then I added prosciutto, spicy genoa salami and a Parma ham.
Second; consider varying guest preferences and try to accommodate as many people as possible. Not everyone loves soft cheeses like brie or camembert so consider also having perhaps a white cheddar or a crumbled parmesan too. I used a crumbled aged cheddar, a French ‘Tome’, a nice Havarti sliced into long rectangles (easier to grab), a brie and a blue cheese. Blue cheese gets a bad reputation but if you get a good one with a more subtle flavour it can be delicious and not over-poweringly pungent.
Think outside the box
Third; have some fun and add something unexpected! My go-to is a selection of antipasto which nowadays you can buy at most high-end grocery stores already mixed with olive oil, vinegar, spices and herbs. Finally a few gherkins (cornichons in French), some red grapes on the stem, and a spiced red pepper chutney and voilà … a showpiece that will impress your guests, and fill them up!
Pro Tip: prepare the platter well in advance, then saran wrap the entire thing and stored in the fridge. Thirty minutes before your guests arrive take it out of the fridge, then 10 minutes before guest arrival remove saran wrap!
Add On: If you want to add crackers, mini sliced baguette or crisps I recommend using a separate bowl or basket. Firstly it makes it easier to assemble your charcuterie ahead of time and store in the fridge if there isn’t bread and crackers on it, and secondly replenishing the crackers and bread is much easier when you can simply take the basket into the kitchen and quickly refill it.
Photo Credits: Photographer - Nick Merzetti, @merzetti Creative Director, Producer and Stylist - Steven Branco, @Mr.StevenBranco Location - Urban Loft, @UrbanLoftTO