I have always respected charcuterie as the ultimate culinary platform to highlight artisan craftsmanship. Charcuterie has evolved from its traditional French appreciation for cured and cooked meats to become a culinary art form focused on flavor, pairings, and eye appeal. It truly is a mouth explosion if you get the pairings right... but the calories (and the cost) can absolutely add up, so being mindful as you create your board is a must.
Here are my tips to keeping your Charcuterie Board budget-friendly and calorically appropriate, but in any case, you will have to be mindful of what you toss in the grocery cart...then later in your mouth as they both can easily add up!
I used to run around to specialty cheese and meat stores and pay an arm and a leg for cheese and meats... then I discovered Aldi. They not only have a Charcuterie section, but I find that it's even less expensive to grab meats and cheeses from the regular isles. The key to a successful board is a mix of flavours (I spelled it french-like for this blog :) that will be sweet, savory, and a bit of spice. This will cause the ultimate pallet explosion that will have your guests talking about your spread for years!
Don't go overboard, as it is hard once you get started... so here is a guide to the ultimate board:
Fruit- 3 different types. Your pick. Grapes, blackberries, and blueberries are good because they don't brown and you can leave your board out for hours and have it looking fresh.
Meat- Assuming you're a meat-eater. Hard cured meats work best for the same reasons. Select 2-3 types. The best thing to do is pick a variety pack at the deli that may include a trifecta of fancy Italian deli meat that can be broken apart easily and grazed on.
Nuts- A bit of salt, but not too much since your cheese is going to scratch that itch. These are high in calories expensive so pick your favorite and lay them on the board. You can always replenish as needed.
Crackers- Don't go overboard here. This can be a buzz kill. Select one thin cracker that doesn't have a lot of flavor in order for your guests to enjoy your spread without confusing their pallet. Rice or thin wheat crackers work great.
Jam- My personal favorite. Extremely underrated, but highly raved once you show your guests how yummy a bit of jam tastes with cheese and meat. I dare you to try! The chunkier the jam the better. You only need a tiny bit, so include a little serving spoon so your guests can jam to the jam.
Cheese- Saved this for last. It is key to select 3-4 of your favorite cheeses. One should be soft and spreadable (I used a blueberry crusted goat cheese shown above), the others should vary in taste. Mild, sharp, and spicy. Spreadable habanero cheese works well if you like that kick! Cut the slices small so you can stay calorie-conscious, and enjoy more variations!
There really is no wrong way to do this, but the spread you see in the photo cost $30 and stayed out all day. My family enjoyed every bite, as this gorgeous display was a huge hit this Christmas!
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