6 Steps to an Insta-worthy Charcuterie
Who doesn’t love a beautiful charcuterie? If you’re entertaining this weekend and aren’t sure what to serve, a charcuterie platter is both an easy and versatile option. Originally intended as a way to preserve meat before the invention of refrigeration, charcuterie has since evolved into an art and a restaurant staple.
Now, anyone and their mother can throw some meats and cheeses on a serving tray and call it a charcuterie but there are some things you need to know if you want your platter to be Insta-worthy. Perfect presentation isn’t hard to accomplish, but it does require a little forethought. Following these steps is a fool proof way to create a beautiful and wonderfully sharable feature for your next party.
Step 1 - Cheese
I know it seems counterintuitive to start with cheese, since meat is the charcuterie’s namesake but I like to place the cheese on the platter first and build from there. Its kind of like decorating a room; you put the bigger furniture in first, and add smaller accessories after. It’s good to have a variety and I like to choose at least three cheeses, all with different shapes and flavour profiles. You’ll want a mix of mild and strong, soft and firm, salty and nutty. Recently I’ve been experimenting with dairy-free cheese options as well and I found a few that I really like. Today I chose a couple from Fauxmagerie which makes a number of cashew based cheeses. They’re a great option for those who don’t eat dairy and I think it’s always nice to give your guests some choice.
Step 2 - Meat
The word charcuterie derives from the French words for “cooked meat”, so meat is kind of an essential component. Given the rise in popularity of charcuterie in recent years, grocery stores are stocking an ever growing selection of cured meats specifically for this purpose. I usually gravitate towards the Italian salted porks like Proscuittio, Coppa di Parma and a Genoa Salami. Similar to the cheeses, I like to pick three but you can certainly adjust to your taste. I like to fold each variety a little differently.
Step 3 - Breads/Crackers
What’s a good wine night without a lot of carbs? When it comes to dry breads for your charcuterie you can never have too many choices. Get some crackers, crostini, biscuits, seed cookies… Anything. To arrange them nicely take 8-10 in a stack and fan them out. I like to place half of them on the platter and save the rest to top up throughout the night.
Step 4 - Fruit
Fruit offers so much to a charcuterie both in terms of presentation and flavour. When choosing fruit, pick one or two that aren’t messy and are already in bite size pieces. Grapes and berries are good for both these reasons. Dried fruits like apricots and cherries are great too because they can be a nice balance for salty meat and cheese. It can also be nice to select a few fruits like mandarins or figs to leave whole for decoration.
Step 5 - Greens
This is arguably the most crucial step for an insta-worthy charcuterie. It may not seem like a big deal but the addition of green in the form of fresh herbs or fruit leaves provides the necessary contrast to everything else on the plate. The pop of colour makes the presentation bright and fresh and makes it photo-worthy.
Step 6 - Accoutrement
Last but not least, charcuterie “accessories”. Olives, pickled vegetables, nuts, preserves… The possibilities are endless. Farmers markets and speciality grocery stores are wonderful places to find artisanal spreads and small batch pickles, but many grocery stores are starting to carry some fun choices too. It can be helpful to pick a country or region to inspire you and select your accompanying flavours accordingly but above all else just be creative. A charcuterie is about bringing flavours together and all of it will go down fine with a glass of wine.
Have a great long weekend! Xo