Do you love meat? What about cheese? Add in some crackers, slices and bunches of fruit, and pickled items … is your mouth watering at the thought of all of these ingredients? If so, then I bet you love a good charcuterie tray. What is a charcuterie tray? It’s like a cheese plate but better because it features cured meat, as well as a variety of other delectable food items.
When it comes to hanging out with my husband or entertaining guests, you will most likely fnd charcuterie items in our refrigerator and pantry. I love putting together a charcuterie tray because the flavors are incredible, the look is beautiful, and the possibilities are endless.
Another reason I love putting together a charcuterie tray is that it’s simple. Even though the tray of food might look elegant and overwhelming, the charcuterie tray is incredibly easy to put together. In 10 minutes or less, you can have a charcuterie tray that will keep you and your guests coming back for more.
10 Tips to Build the Best Charcuterie Tray
Here are 10 simple tips on how to build the best charcuterie tray.
Take inventory on what you plan on adding to the tray and then decide on the size of the tray. Do you want to keep the look of the food rustic? Opt for a wood tray. If you want to keep the look a bit more elegant, think about using a white tray. You want the look of the tray to be full and complete. I love a charcuterie tray that doesn’t have any bare spots. But, if you want to keep things a bit more simple, then dedicate certain spots on a tray to specific food groups that you plan on serving on your charcuterie tray. Allow some breathing room between the food groups.
Think about adding different texture through the various food groups. Add slices of salami to create a hard look, a dollop of pâté to create a soft look, chunks of cheese to create a colorful look, a bowl of nuts to create a crunchy look, and slices of fruit to create a refreshing look. You want the tray to have a lot of texture to entice the senses.
Be sure to slice the meat so that it’s easier for guests to grab and enjoy. You can slice some of the cheese. But, if you buy cheese that comes in a wedge, feel free to place the wedge on the tray … just be sure to have a small cheese knife on the tray so that your guests can cut off a slice and enjoy.
Add height to your charcuterie tray by piling up cheese, adding a bunch of grapes, placing wine breadsticks in a glass jar, etc. You don’t want the look of the tray to be flat. Instead, keep the eye engaged with height.
Mix up the type of meat on the charcuterie tray. Salami, prosciutto, and pepperoni are great options when it comes to adding flavor to your charcuterie tray. These types of meat of familiar to most people and are extremely flavorful. Plus, they mix well with traditional items found on a charcuterie tray.
Create diversity on your charcuterie tray by adding a variety of different cheeses. You can add chunks of cheese and wedges of cheese (be sure to include a knife for easy cutting). Think about adding a mix of hard cheese and soft cheese. You can even add a spreadable cheese so that guests easily enjoy the cheese.
Add apple slices (squirt lemon juice over the apple slices to keep them from turning brown), a bunch of grapes, a bowl of dried fruit, slices of figs … think colorful, rustic, and refreshing when you trying to decide on what type of fruit to add to the charcuterie tray.
Add a variety of crackers to the charcuterie tray. From wine breadsticks to mini baguettes to flavored crackers, the possibilities are endless when it comes to adding a crunch factor to your charcuterie tray.
Don’t forget to add condiments to your charcuterie tray since they can really enhance the other flavors on the board. Try condiments like wine-based jelly, fruit-based jams, and mustard. These types of condiments can really kick up the flavor of the charcuterie tray food items.
Olives, gerkins, and pickled vegetables are simple pickled items that add texture, taste, and interest to a charcuterie tray.
To help make the tray look beautiful, think about adding sprigs of fresh herbs throughout the tray. I love the look of rosemary sprigs on a charcuterie tray. The rosemary not only makes the charcuterie tray look beautiful, but the sprigs also smell decadent and fresh.
What are your favorite tips for creating a charcuterie tray?