A cheese and charcuterie board is the perfect start to any get-together, especially for this holiday season. There are very few hard and fast rules with charcuterie, so you can be as creative as you like. That said, there are some guidelines regarding the best approach.
There are a few rules of thumb to use when preparing a cheese board.
- The rule is portion size. 1 – 2 ounces of each cheese and meat per person is good.
- Typically, three kinds of cheese are plenty, but you can certainly use more. (We used four on ours) There are several approaches.
- Serve one cow, goat, and sheep’s milk.
- Serve three pieces of cheese using the same type of milk, but with varying ages. All cow’s milk, aged 3, 6, and 12 months, for instance.
- Serve soft, semi-soft, and hard cheese
I favor pairing sparkling pairing with any rich and creamy cheese. Of the cheeses we served on our board, my favorites with sparkling wine are the Cowgirl Creamery Mt. Tam and the Valley Ford Highway One.
There are many types of charcuteries, including pate, torchon, and rillettes. In the name of keeping things simple, we are sticking with two styles here — whole muscle, and sausage. And in this case, sausage pretty much means salami. There are so many types of salami out there it can make your head spin. I recommend a combination of hard and soft salami.
Whole muscle charcuterie is pieces of meat that are cured whole and then sliced. The parts of the animal used for this type of charcuterie are the belly, the jowl, the loin, the shoulder or collar, and the legs. The undisputed king of this whole muscle charcuterie? HAM! Ham is the cured leg of a pig. There are versions of these all over the world. From France to the US and beyond, ham is beloved around the world.
If you are unsure, it’s best to stay simple.
A good cheese and charcuterie board is more than just meat and cheese. Even though we do not have any bread pictured, in my opinion, it’s essential. My personal favorite is Sourdough Baguette, but a French baguette or an Italian works beautifully as well. We included olives and roasted red pepper but may also use various fresh and dried fruits, vegetables, honey, mustards, and jams.
Putting the board together
We created a board that plays well with Methode Champenoise Sparkling Wine. We looked for a combination of rich and/or creamy, flavors that were not overpowering. Skewered olives, prosciutto, and Highway One cheese provide a perfect combination of richness, salt, and texture to pair perfectly with Brut Rose. The roasted peppers add a nice change of pace from the other items and add a counterpoint to the other food included.
We put together the following:
- Cowgirl Creamery, Mt. Tam – Triple Cream Cow’s Milk
- Valley Ford Cheese & Creamery, Highway One – Fontina Style Cow’s Milk
- Bivalve Dairy, Mendonca – Acorean Style Cow’s Milk
- William Coffield, Big McKinley – 12-Month Aged Cheddar Cow’s Milk
- Coppa Charcuterie
- Prosciutto Di Parma
- Cremineli, Varzi Salami
- PaneVino, Fuet Ahumado – Dry Salami
- Roasted Red Pepper
- Wild Groves Garlic Stuffed Olives
- Rustic Bakery, Sea Salt & Olive Oil Flatbread