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Say ‘Oui’ to These Charcuteries!

By Caterina Tomassini

Photo by Katey Cooney

If you’re anything like me, girls night, football games, cookouts, and other social gatherings lure me in with one factor: the snacks.

Besides going to people’s homes for the company, we all know we go for the food . What better way to impress your guests than to lay out an elegant charcuterie board, filled with everything from fruits, to cheeses, to crackers, to candies, or whatever the occasion calls for.

Need some ideas? Say less! We have you covered with these charcuterie boards options, perfect for any occasion. But first, let’s go over the basics.

To start, what does charcuterie mean? Charcuterie is the French word for the branch of cooking devoted to prepared meats. It was especially relevant before the invention of refrigeration, when people had to find ways to preserve the meat without keeping it cold. Today, however - at least in the U.S. - we use ‘charcuterie’ when describing the art of assembling cured meats with cheeses, crackers, fruits, breads and other tasteful items.

The most essential part of a charcuterie board is the meat (hence the name)! For example:

  • Prosciutto

  • Salami

  • Capicola

  • Mortadella (A staple in my house!)

  • Pepperoni

You can’t forget the cheese! Cheese pairs nicely with meats and crackers, and is particularly cherished over a glass of red wine. Some popular choices are:

  • Gouda

  • Burrata (My personal favorite!)

  • Brie

  • Pepperjack

  • Cheddar

With the basics covered, it’s time to add some detail! Besides meat and cheese, charcuterie boards can be enjoyed with a range of accouterments, including (but not limited to):

  • Olives

  • Grapes and strawberries

  • Chocolate (dark chocolate is always a hit!)

  • Nuts

  • Jam, jelly, or hummus

These choices are for a more r sophisticated palette, so for you non-cheese-and-meat-lovers, here are some unconventional charcuterie ideas:

Christmas Sweets

Perhaps you’ve had enough of the salty Charcuteries that everyone and their mother is putting out for the holiday season, and that’s okay. How about a board filled with sugar, sugar, and more sugar?

  • Candy canes

  • Christmas-colored Hershey Kisses

  • Sugar cookies

  • Sliced Panettone (a traditional Italian Christmas cake)

  • Beijinhos de Coco (a Brazilian coconut cookie)

  • Gingerbread man cookies

  • And, how about some hot chocolate to go with it?

Game Day

For this one, we may sacrifice a bit of aesthetic, but remember those Sundays when Dad would hog the T.V. all afternoon, devour chips and dip and scream at the screen? With this board, you’re sure to feel the nostalgia:

  • Chips

  • Salsa, queso or hummus

  • Popcorn

  • Pretzels

  • Buffalo or chicken wings

  • Nuts or trail mix

  • And perhaps a few beers, for those of-age

Brunch Board

So, the girls want brunch, but don’t want to get dressed to go out. Instead, opt for a morning-in, and present your brunch goodies on a board, and voilà! Now you can stay in your pajamas, watch TV, and still gossip about the latest drama.

  • Bite-size pancakes

  • Nutella and whipped cream

  • Muffins

  • Bagels and cream cheese

  • Strawberries and bananas

  • Melon (honeydew or cantaloupe)

  • Mimosas, of course!

Whatever your occasion, food on a beautiful board is always a hit! If you’re going for the traditional style, meats, cheeses, and creative sides are always a go-to. If not, any get-together can be adapted to. Presentation is key! Just remember to be creative, play with colors, mix up the tastes, and enjoy a yummy snack with friends and family.

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