Valentine’s Day is coming up, which means it’s time to start making dinner plans. If you want to get creative and skip the dinner reservation, you came to the right place. Good food is our love language here at Louisiana Grills.
One of the most versatile and fun options for an at-home date night is the ever-popular charcuterie board. We’re here to show you how to build the perfect board to share with the one you love.
While the word “charcuterie” specifically refers to a selection of meats, modern charcuterie boards typically feature cheese alongside a variety of meats paired with bread, fruit, and other snacks. These items are then artfully arranged to create a platter that’s both aesthetically pleasing and tasty.
Charcuterie boards can either be served as an appetizer or can take the place of a meal, depending on how much food is included.
Whether you’re planning to serve your charcuterie board as a snack to get your date night started or as a meal to share with your valentine, one thing is certain: your board should feature a range of flavors and textures to mix and match.
I’m talking creamy and crunchy, sweet, and savory, hard and soft cheeses. You need a little bit of everything to build the perfect bite.
Much like a strong relationship, you can’t really get started until you lay the groundwork. You’ve got to pick the right serving dish to be the foundation before you start building out your board.
To impress your valentine, we suggest a nice wooden or marble cheese board or platter. This will give you more of a date night feel and plenty of space to arrange everything.
However, if you don’t have one on hand, a cookie sheet, cutting board, or any other flat platter will work in a pinch. If you’re planning to feed a crowd (Did someone say Galentine’s Day?), you could lay out a piece of parchment paper on a flat, clean countertop to supersize your board.
The size of your board really depends on how much food you plan to serve. We recommend around 2 ounces of cheese and about 1 to 2 ounces of meat per person for an appetizer. If the board is the main event, you’ll want to serve closer to 4 ounces of cheese and 3 to 4 ounces of meat per person.
Once you’ve picked out your board, it’s time to think about what you’d like to include on your charcuterie board.
You’ll want a variety of cheese, with a mix of both soft and hard options. Brie, burrata, and goat cheese are a few options to consider on the softer side. Some hard cheese options include gouda, cheddar, Manchego, and gruyere.
We recommend building your board around smoked cheeses for added flavor. Luckily, you don’t have to shell out extra money to get that smoky flavor on your charcuterie board.
That’s because you can upgrade the hard cheeses you pick up at the grocery store by cold smoking them at home yourself. Cold smoking your cheese adds depth to its flavor and is a pretty straightforward process that is worth the extra effort. If you decide to give it a try, we’ve got a step-by-step guide to help.
Ideally, your board should have about 3 to 5 different types of cheese in various shapes and sizes. We recommend 3 for a smaller, more low-key board and 5 for a larger board to serve a crowd.
Next, you’ll want to figure out which types of meat are best for your board. One of the great things about creating a charcuterie board is that there really aren’t any rules, so you can choose whatever you and your date like best.
The amount and variety of meat is completely up to you, but pepperoni, salami, sliced sausage, and prosciutto are all good options. Again, presentation is key here so you could lay them out flat or try your hand at folding them.
If you’re looking to make it extra special and in keeping with Valentine’s Day theme, try arranging your slices of salami or pepperoni around the rim of a glass to form meat roses.
Once your key pieces are in place, it’s time to decide on a sweet compliment to the savory offerings. A common addition to modern charcuterie boards is fruit.
We recommend grapes, strawberries, blueberries, and cherries for a sweet bite. You could include a smattering of all these options, just a couple, or none. Again, it’s totally customizable.
You should consider which fruits will pair best with the cheese you’ve selected. Apples go well with a wide range of cheese, while grapes are ideal alongside hard cheeses and strawberries are a nice compliment to creamy, soft cheeses.
This is also a good time to start thinking about tasty toppings like fruit spreads, jams, or honey.
Bread or Crackers
All of these items will look great arranged on your platter, but what’s the best way to build the perfect bite? You might want to include a vehicle for your various flavor combinations.
Sliced baguette, crostini, and various types of crackers are perfect for the job. These can be arranged on the board alongside your other ingredients or in a separate serving dish if you run out of room.
You could stop there, and your board would still be complete. But if you want to take things to the next level, you could throw in a few small bowls to fill with bite size snacks.
Nuts are a popular choice, such as almonds, cashews, or pistachios. Some other options to consider include pickles, cucumber slices, sweet pepper, or olives.
You could even add a savory condiment like mustard or a sweet and spicy pepper jelly.
Build Your Board
Now that you’ve figured out what you want to serve, it’s time for the fun part. Let’s build that board.
First, you’ll want to put out any items that require small dishes so you can arrange everything else around them. That includes, but isn’t limited to, nuts, olives, spreads, and honey.
Next, you can pre-slice the hard cheese, cut a few wedges into the brie, and arrange each in different areas on your board. You can follow this up with your selection of meat. Arranging meat slices into roses like we mentioned above or folding them into patterns – halves or triangles are nice options – can help with creating a charcuterie board that’s as visually appealing as it is tasty.
This is the time to slice up the fruit and add it to the board, followed by the crackers and bread in the remaining space. Pro tip: if you’re using sliced apples, try soaking them in a bowl of water with lemon juice to prevent browning.
As you’re laying everything out, keep in mind which flavors pair well together and consider grouping those items together. For example, you might place honey, nuts, or chopped fruit next to the brie.
Once all your pieces are in place, there’s only one thing left to do: ENJOY!