Forget long recipes, meal courses and appropriate serving times; Christmas Charcuterie Boards are the way to go this holiday season.
The holidays are already stressful enough as they are, no need in adding complicated and time-consuming ways to entertain family and guests.
Charcuterie (pronounced “shahr-koo-tuh-ree”), a French term for a branch of cooking devoted to meat products, was originally used as a way to preserve meats before refrigeration.
Now, it’s a part of most every home cook’s repertoire, whether it’s for entertaining or just having a date night in.
It’s one board with endless possibilities of smoked meats, artisanal cheeses, fruits and spreads that you can customize around the event or celebration. Once you decide what to serve on your board, it’s as easy as opening and arranging your food.
Not sure where to start? I’ve got some Christmas Charcuterie Board ideas to guide you in the right direction.
HOW TO MAKE A CHRISTMAS CHARCUTERIE BOARD
The first thing you want to do is to establish what kind of board you want to use and what size. Obviously, the size will depend on how many people you’re expecting and the type of board you use is all about personal preference.
You don’t necessarily have to use a wooden board; any type of flat surface will do. I have several chopping blocks and boards, and this is one of my go-tos for making charcuterie. It’s nice and worn in and heavy so it doesn’t slide easily.
Sometimes, however, I like to use a silver platter I have because the size is great and it’s a pretty display.
Lazy susans are another a good option because they can be spun to accommodate guests building their plate.
One “board” I made a few years ago was actually the top of my kitchen island. I covered it with butcher paper and wrote the names of cheeses and meats right on the paper. Talk about convenient.
After you choose your base, you’ll need a few small pieces that will keep some of the things that are wet, runny or tiny from infringing on everything else (you don’t want the honey to sweeten everything).
I have lots of little serving bowls, pinch bowls, little glasses, etc. that I use to separate and organize my board.
You can use anything from ramekins to shot glasses. Gather all of those and put them with your board (or tray).
WHAT TO PUT ON A CHRISTMAS CHARCUTERIE BOARD
Charcuterie typically has five elements: meat, cheese, fruit, sour (or pickled) and bread/crackers. This will cover all your bases to make sure you have good contrast, and keep in mind that contrast is key here.
You want to experience a wide range of flavors and textures, savory, sweet, sour, soft, hard, crumbly, smooth.
Meats to add to your board are soppressata, pepperoni, salami, prosciutto, candied bacon and other cured meats are perfect to add to your board.
If this is going to be the main food event, you’ll need about 5 oz. per person, and if it’s an appetizer for your guests stick to about 2 oz.
There are plenty of fantastic cheeses to choose from, locally made, artisanal, hard cheeses and soft, and it can be overwhelming. You’ll want both hard and soft cheeses in a variety of 3 or 4 to compliment your meats.
You should be able to find everything you need at your grocery store. Most have higher-end cheeses in their deli department, but if not, Whole Foods, Fresh Market and Sprouts will definitely have it.
Some of my favorites are brie, gouda, and gorgonzola. Another easy cheese option (especially last minute) is to pour half of a jar of preserves or jam over an 8 oz. block of cream cheese and use to spread on crackers or baguette slices.
This is the sweet portion of your board and is just as important as the others. On my board, I have white grapes, pomegranate arils, blackberries and cream cheese. Don’t skip this part; it’s vital to the contrasting element of the board.
This is one of my favorite elements. Olives, pickled anything such as asparagus, cucumbers, onions, cauliflower and even avocado (yes! But that’s another post…). This is important for that contrast and textural element of the board.
You can use your favorite crackers, pita chips, lavash broken into pieces, I sliced a French baguette and also added water crackers. Anything that you can use as a vehicle for your charcuterie goodies.
If you’re eating carb-free, or Keto, some good alternatives are endive, artichoke leaves, flax seed crackers, bell pepper wedges and celery sticks.
I washed and prepped everything the night before to make it easier on me because I like to stay ahead, but this is definitely not necessary.
Arrange your board according to your preference, of course tasting a little while you’re arranging, because you have to taste test.
HOW TO PAIR WINE WITH YOUR CHRISTMAS CHARCUTERIE BOARD
To have the full experience, you should have both white and red wines on hand, and Champagne would be a great addition because, after all, it’s the holidays.
Champagne really is a fantastic drink for a charcuterie board because the acidity in the champagne helps to cut through the fattiness of the meats. It also compliments the salt and fat which are two dominant flavor elements of a charcuterie board.
A good rule of thumb for pairing wine with your spread is to match very strong cheeses with heavier wines. Think Malbec with Roquefort, or a Chenin Blanc with a soft cheese like Brie.
Since this is a Christmas themed charcuterie board, you’ll want to add some seasonal touches like cranberries, pomegranate arils, rosemary, mint. If you have room, add some candles and festive bows to create more Christmas ambiance.
Here’s your printable –