The first time I tried to make appetizers, I thought I would save time and put the cream spread on the crackers the night before. It was my first dinner party and, you guessed it, soggy crackers. My guests attempted to eat them. At first, I believed everyone liked the crackers—sending private pats on my back for a job well done—until I tried one. It was mush in my mouth. Yucky!!
Since that embarrassing, I-should-never-host-dinner-again night, I have learned the joy and beauty of tasty appetizers, particularly the charcuterie platter.
While I’m still not sure I pronounce it correctly (char-coo-tar-ree? shar-true-tar-we?), I still love to create, admire, and eat them.
It is pronounced “shar-koo-tuh-ree.” Yes, I had to look it up.
It is so simple to make. I take portions of yummy smoked, dry-cured, or cooked meats—such as bacon, ham, sausage, and pâtés—and pair them with fruit, cheeses, crackers, and nuts. Then, arrange them all beautifully on a platter.
Once I “discovered” charcuterie, it was no surprise that I instantly loved it! I am most definitely a meat and cheese eater. Then, to have everything beautifully arranged and no cooking required. Win-win-win!
Plus, it is tough to screw up a charcuterie board.
Years of practice
Unbeknownst to me, I’ve been making charcuterie for years! Since high school, I would put dill pickles, Tillamook cheese, and lunchmeat on a plate, along with some saltine crackers. It was my favorite snack. It’s not as fancy as the ones I prepare now, but it definitely qualifies as charcuterie.
Now, I use a variety of meat and cheeses with crazy long, frequently foreign names, along with scrumptious nuts and whole wheat crackers. Pickled veggies are always fun too. I add sprigs of herbs like rosemary and oregano tucked in between the mini-piles of food, which are edible and decorative.
I use a variety of meat and cheeses with crazy long, frequently foreign names…I create tags using stickers or paper on toothpicks. I stick them in the food or next to the food, and there are no worries about ink or chalk poisoning. The only challenge is properly spelling the names.
Once complete, I feel like a domestic goddess as I place the finished piece on the table before dinner.
Wood platter for the win!
These days, I prefer wood serving trays to plates. It could be my affinity for wood or a predisposition toward adding texture to the dishware. Not sure.
I enjoy charcuterie much more on a wood plank than on a white porcelain platter. It adds to the experience, making it feel unique and fun.
Although I don’t have very many wood trays so, more often than not, I use a wood cutting board. Hey, it looks like a platter—sort of.
Further embarrassments in hostessing
If you decide to go with a porcelain platter, don’t write on it with a dry-erase marker. Not even a wet-erase marker. I did that for one charcuterie board, and It came off on the food. We had company that night, and it was a bit embarrassing. The ink ran into the brie, turning it black and splotchy. Everyone ended up eating around it—such a waste.
You might want to avoid chalk as well. Once again, I thought I would pull off Pinterest perfection with a slate platter and write labels in chalk around the food. Again, it tends to either get wiped away with the food or cause issues as people try to avoid it. Not worth the hassle.
What I can recommend are ceramic labels. Or I create tags using stickers or paper on toothpicks. I stick them in the food or next to the food, and there are no worries about ink or chalk poisoning.
Then, the only challenge was correctly spelling the name of the fancy cheese I bought at Whole Foods.
Properly pronouncing the name is a whole different issue.