I'm Madeleine Dee. I cook, travel, write, & eat everything I can find while dreaming up show concepts, creating a gourmet product line called Fond Originals, & running Fond, the restaurant of my dreams, in Louisville, Kentucky.

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The Seasoned Cynic's Guide to Making a Charcuterie Board

The Seasoned Cynic's Guide to Making a Charcuterie Board

BONJOUR! Today we’re going to talk about charcuterie boards. The word charcuterie sounds fancy because it’s French, but the word simply refers to cold, cooked meats like ham, sausage, salami, and pâté.

A wonderful and affordable way to put out low maintenance nibbles that everyone loves, most charcuterie boards aren’t just meat - they also offer things like cheese, fruit, pickles, preserves, mustard, and bread. It’s the perfect way to feed (drunk) guests and not be tied to the kitchen all night. It’s also a great excuse to say the word cooter without judgement!

Start with meat and cheese. I always go for high quality prosciutto, pepperoni, and salami. You’ll want at least 3 different types of cheese: hard, soft, and funky. A soft cheese would be something like brie or camembert (which you can make a little more exciting by wrapping the wheel in puff pastry, brushing with olive oil or butter, and baking until puffy and golden brown!). A hard cheese you’d want to snack on would be something like Manchego or a farmstead cheese like Bellavitano. A *FUNKY* cheese would love disco and be something like blue cheese or goat cheese.

Most cheese shops and grocery stores these days have bins full of wedges that are $5 or less. This is the perfect way to fill up a party board without breaking the bank. Also, it’s a great and low risk way to try new cheeses! To bulk up your platter, add 5 or more small wedges of cheese to give the illusion of more food than it actually is.

Add dried or fresh fruit. Grapes are an inexpensive and beautiful way to fill up a charcuterie board. To spare guests the hassle of fumbling with whole bunches, use scissors to snip the stems and make tiny portions of 4-6 grapes! Otherwise, the grapes are not likely to get eaten.

Add crackers or some fresh baked bread. A little butter… maybe some hummus!

Nuts are high in protein and filling. To make your guests feel special, get some pistachios or cashews. If you don’t give a fuck or you hate your guests, peanuts are fine.

For some briney, salty goodness, add olives, pickles, and stoneground mustard. And for some sweetness, a couple pots of fancy jam. (I have some handmade by yours truly on Etsy: CLICK FOR DELICIOUS JAM!)

If you want to go the extra mile, make tiny Caprese toothpick skewers using fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and pesto. You could also wrap prosciutto slices around wedges of fresh melon and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Both options are more affordable than you’d expect, and your guests will think you actually care about them.

Put out small bowls for olive pits, toothpicks, and pistachio shells. Start each one off so that people know why the bowls are there. Otherwise, at least one guest will mistake an empty bowl for a free hat.

Once it’s perfect, mess it up just a little so that it will look like someone already started picking at it. Despite generally being rude, most people are too polite to be the first one to start eating at a party.

Consider making more than one tray and having backups ready to serve so that you can relax.

Now you’re ready to make a gorgeous charcuterie board.


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