charcuterie board

How to make the perfect charcuterie board

How to make the perfect charcuterie board

Kate Byng-Hall shares her tips on how to create an epic charcuterie board…

Charcuterie boards – beautifully laid out platters of meat, cheese and other nibbles – have been taking Instagram by storm. But these boards aren’t just aesthetically pleasing – they’re also delicious with the right array of ingredients.

Follow these tips, and you’ll have the perfect night-in treat, dinner party centrepiece and Insta post all rolled into one!

The Key Ingredients

  1. Bread & Crackers: Start with some carbs to accompany your delicacies. Try introducing a range of textures, including crackers, breadsticks and French bread. Warm focaccia is one option to add even more flavour.
  2. Cheese: Often the star of the show, your choice of cheese is paramount. Again, vary the textures for optimum choice. Try a combination of hard cheeses like manchego or comté, firm cheeses like cheddar and gouda, blue cheeses like roquefort or stilton, soft cheeses like brie and mozzarella and even cream or cottage cheese.
  3. Meat: Sliced, cured and smoked meats are an essential addition to your board – charcuterie is a French term for prepared meat, after all. For an element of the traditional Ploughman’s, try sliced roasted ham or beef, and add a continental feel with pastrami, prosciutto, salami or chorizo.
  4. Fruit & Veg: Adding a fresh element can really brighten up your board. Think classics like cherry tomatoes and sweet peppers, and don’t be shy of fruity additions: grapes, apples and berries work well.
  5. Condiments: Here’s where you can get really creative. Think outside the box: chutney, piccalilli, chilli jam, hot sauce, mustard, pesto, balsamic dressing – you name it. You can even add honey or marmalade for a sweet twist.
  6. Extras: Charcuterie boards are all about freedom with food! Try adding olives, sundried tomatoes, nuts or dried fruit like dates and dried apricots – anything that takes your fancy.

Spice It Up 

Try out some of these combos to add a talking-point to your creation. 

  • Use up your leftover cranberry sauce with roasted ham or brie for a moreish wintery spin on the usual chutney pairings. 
  • Bring an Italian twist by combining bresaola (a delicious dried, salted beef from Northern Italy) with parmesan, rocket and balsamic vinegar.   
  • Craft perfect pre-made bites by wrapping chunks of cheese in your meats.  Manchego pairs deliciously with salami, and ossau-iraty is great with parma ham. 
  • Go for a decadent centrepiece with baked camembert.  Keep it simple by slashing the cheese a few times and baking it in its box for around 20 minutes at 180°C fan, or add interest with garlic, thyme, rosemary or chilli flakes. 

Source It Local  

As with all delicious treats, these platters taste even better using local produce from small businesses.  Thankfully, there are plenty of wonderful suppliers near us to help you craft your ideal charcuterie board. 

To get the perfect cheese selection, check out Teddington Cheeses in both Teddington and Richmond, or Hamish Johnston in Clapham Common. 

Butchers can be a great source of fresh, cured and smoked meats, such as The Teddington Butcher, Sandy’s Fishmonger in Twickenham (which sells meat, but you might want to try a marine twist!) and C.D. Jennings & Sons in Surbiton.   

Try The Cavan Bakery in Teddington, Hampton Hill, West Moseley and more for wonderful fresh bread (and great cakes if you’re looking for dessert too). 

Delis are a brilliant source of all things charcuterie: check out Toast Deli and Primitivo Club in Teddington, Vallebona in Wimbledon and Bayley & Sage in Wimbledon Village, Turnham Green, Chelsea and more. 

For an especially personal touch, try your hand at picking your own ingredients at Garsons Farm in Esher.  If it’s not quite the season, their large farm shop also sells fresh fruit and veg, condiments and other delicacies which could be perfect on your platter. 

And, of course, farmers markets can often provide you with everything you want all in one place!  From Surbiton to Twickenham, Barnes to Clapham Common and Ealing to Kew and Wimbledon Villages, there’s bound to be a handy, high-quality market near you.