Charcuterie Boards 101 Impress your guests with an Instagram-worthy grazing board

Charcuterie Boards 101
Photo by David Stuck

What’s not to love about charcuterie boards? They’re versatile, easy to prepare and, most importantly, delicious. They also make quite the impressive Thanksgiving appetizer when curated with care. Here, Melissa Shear, owner of CheezMD, offers expert tips for artful displays of meat, cheese, crackers and more.

Upgrade your dishware

Thanksgiving is a special occasion, so break out a special platter. A rustic wood or live edge cutting board will feel right for the season, but a vintage tray or formal china will work wonderfully, too.

Think seasonally about ingredients

Cranberry jam, chutneys and spiced nuts will add fall colors and flavors, while pickled or jarred vegetables such as artichoke hearts can amp up the cornucopia feel. Traditional charcuterie can be replaced or supplemented with slices of country ham or cured Italian bresaola. For a final festive touch, add some candy corn or mellowcreme pumpkins.

Go the extra mile with cheese and crackers

You could throw on a hunk of brie and some Ritz. Or you could bake the cheese in a mini Dutch oven, then top with pomegranate seeds and serve with crusty slices of toasted baguette for dipping.

Follow a few key rules for your display

Shear swears by a few tricks for making her boards so aesthetically pleasing, starting with color. Ensuring you have a variety of hues, and that one or two shades appear in multiple places, will keep the eye dancing across the board.

Next up: height. Add dimension by corralling a few ingredients (such as olives and prosciutto-wrapped breadsticks) in smaller jars and dishes directly on the board, then place “wet” ingredients (oozy cheese and fresh fruit) directly next to those vessels so that they don’t bleed onto drier items like crackers. Finally, a sprig of fresh sage or rosemary will add a gourmet flourish.

Get inspired by Instagram

CheezMD is hardly the first venture of its kind, a fact Shear freely admits. She follows @ainttooproudtomeg for tips and tutorials, and she also finds inspiration from @grazintablesandboards, @seecandycook and @cheeseboardqueen. Hashtags such as #cheeseboardsofinstagram and #plattersoftheworld are two additional resources to explore.

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