Can you believe that the festive season is nearly here? Christmas is well and truly upon us, and it’s bringing with it all the usual favourites – festive music, cosy nights in watching Christmas films and, maybe most excitingly, our favourite seasonal foods!
One thing that everyone enjoys around the festive period is a charcuterie board. A mainstay of many restaurant menus in the run-up to Christmas, a charcuterie board is one of the ultimate indulgences – a smorgasbord of our favourite cheeses and meats, usually paired with a glass of wine or two. While we may not all be able to get out to a restaurant this year, that’s not to say we can’t build a great charcuterie board to enjoy with our families at home!
Here’s our guide to welcoming in the festive season by putting together a great charcuterie board.
What Goes On A Charcuterie Board?
It makes sense that you start with your serving board. There’s a huge range of different sized charcuterie boards available online, though a large wooden cutting board or pizza paddle works just fine, too. Then it’s time to fill it.
Charcuterie boards are traditionally made up of cured meats, cheese, crackers and breads, olives, nuts, and chutneys or jams, but you can put on or leave out whatever you like. This is one selection where you can get as creative as you want!
Here are a few different ideas for perfect charcuterie components.
Depending on the size of the charcuterie you’re serving, we’d recommend choosing at least three different meats for your board.
This Italian cured ham is a long-standing favourite for charcuterie boards. It’s delicate enough that it goes great with a crackerbread and a teaspoon of your favourite chutney, but tasty and substantial enough that it can simply be picked off your board and enjoy alone. It’s also particularly popular at Christmas!
Salami can often be bought fairly cheaply in a large pack from most supermarkets, and it’s a great addition to any charcuterie board, as it’s one of the most popular continental meats. You can also substitute salami for chorizo or pepperoni if you prefer these.
If you know where to look, you could also pick up some Calabrese salami – a spicier variety of the meat for those who like it a little hotter.
Honey Glazed Ham
A festive favourite in the UK, honey glazed ham is works great as part of a charcuterie board. With so many of the meats included in a traditional charcuterie quite thin and delicate, a few thick slices of honey glazed or honey roast ham will be a welcome contrast – this meal is all about variety, after all!
Other Air Dried Meats
These days, you can even get thinly sliced, air dried venison, made right here in the UK! If you’re really looking to ‘wow’ with your charcuterie board, you can’t go wrong when deciding to pick up something a little different.
If there’s one thing we certainly know how to do in this country, it’s make a delicious pie! Pork or game pies are a brilliant addition to a charcuterie board, and there’s definitely something a little festive about a good pie, too.
You can put as many or as few cheeses as you like on your charcuterie board, but we’d recommend – again, depending on the size of your board – including at least four cheeses to really give your board some variety.
The general rule of thumb (though, again, you don’t have to follow any rules at all if you don’t want to!) is that you should balance your board by including a soft cheese, a hard cheese, an aged cheese and a blue cheese.
Soft cheeses cover everything from the sandwich spreads you’re used to enjoying at lunch to the garlic roules you may have seen on cheeseboards in the past – we’d recommend using the latter, but it’s all down to whatever takes your fancy.
Hard cheeses include cheddar, emmental, gouda and manchego, all of which would taste great with a variety of breads and crackers. As cheddar is very much the ‘standard’ cheese in the UK, it may be the most consistently liked by everyone at the table, especially if you have any little ones dining with you. However, all of the above cheeses are, of course, delicious!
Blue cheese and aged cheeses tend to be a little more divisive, as many people simply don’t like them – though, there is some delicious cheeses out there in both varieties! It’s probably best to ask those you’ll be eating with first to avoid including anything that might go to waste, then put in a little research trying to pick up some delicious local cheeses that fit these preferences.
Meat and cheese alone does not a charcuterie make! There’s a few extras commonly included in charcuterie boards which you’ll certainly want to consider adding in.
Bread & Crackers
This one’s a little obvious – what’s a cheese selection with nothing to enjoy it on?
It’s worth picking up a selection box of different crackers, as different cheeses go with different textures and flavours of biscuit. You can pick a good quality box up fairly cheaply in most supermarkets.
Bread is also a nice addition. We’d recommend a baguette or a sourdough.
Again, perfect with cheese – and with pork pies, too. There’s a wide variety of different flavours available these days, so why not choose something a little out there?
Fruit & Nuts
A great festive touch! A bowl of mixed nuts with dried fruits – raisins, apricots and such – would be a lovely centrepiece to your charcuterie.
Grapes are also an excellent addition, as they go great with cheese!