Charcuterie is the perfect compliment to a sunny afternoon with a glass of wine or a crisp cocktail. Whether you are making one for your household to enjoy or one to entertain (fingers crossed for someday soon!), the art of creating the right board comes down to the ingredients you buy.
At the Prince of Wales Hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake, the charcuterie board has become a menu favourite. Their combination of Regional cheeses and cured meats, mustard, pickles, preserves and crunchy crostini is an appetizer must for guests. We’ve asked their culinary team to guide you through creating your own charcuterie board at home, just in time for al fresco dining season! Guide compliments of Sous Chef, Chris Pilipczuk of Noble Restaurant.
To build your own charcuterie board at home you will first need to go to your favorite grocer. It may seem a little overwhelming at first with the amount of choices that you have before you, but this guide will help you to make a well-rounded board.
Choosing charcuterie meats
If you are planning on building a board, you can try and keep it simple by getting standard charcuterie meats of salami, prosciutto and calabrese. But if you want to expand your palate you could try a pâté or cacciatore sausage or even a terrine (meat or veggie).
Choosing your cheeses
Next, you can head to the cheese section and choose a few for your board to give it variety. Now I know there are a lot of people that don’t like blue cheese but I think it is a great cheese to have on a board. I prefer a Celtic myself. Brie is another great cheese to pick up because it is creamy and if warmed a little bit it spreads very easily. Another staple that I highly recommend is a great aged cheddar. Finally, goat cheese is another cheese that you either love it or you don’t but it is a great compliment to a charcuterie board.
Choosing your breads
Now let’s head to the bakery and pick up a nice crusty baguette, your choice! When you get home, cut the baguette into thin slices and place on a baking sheet, drizzle a nice olive oil overtop of it and sprinkle some nice sea salt and bake in the oven until golden.
Choosing your condiments
After you have picked up that perfect crusty baguette we will try to find the right condiments for our board. Myself I like to have something with a crunch and something that has a bit of a tang to it. Pickles are a great choice to add to your board. Gherkins pickles can give you the crunch and tang at the same time. Other great options for your board include roasted artichokes or roasted red peppers.
Once you have found your crunch and tang condiments of choice, I recommend adding a preserve or two, so that everything doesn’t taste the same. I like to put a nice grainy mustard on my boards and a fruit preserve. This way you have something that will go with your meats and your cheeses. I also think that a nice reduced balsamic is a great add on to a board. If you drizzle a little bit of that on your bite, it brings it to another level.
Building your charcuterie board
Now that we have all of our ingredients we can start building our board at home. Any type of board or platter will do. I use my big wooden cutting board at home. You don’t need to try everything at once when you are making your board. You can just keep it simple and have two meats and a cheese or you can go all out and try three or four meats and cheeses. Make sure you have your condiments and preserves, and your sweet and tangy accompaniments. It’s all up to you on how much you want to try that night. Always try to have a few choices to tease your palate and keeping it guessing on what combination you might try next. Maybe the next time you will try something different that you never knew you liked.
One thing to remember is you can always add more to the board if you are running low! But if you fill it up so full because you are worried you might run out food, there is a good chance that you could be throwing out a lot of your hard work. Like any other food, your board cannot be out for hours and hours and then be preserved in the fridge, someone could get very sick.
Here’s to a great night with your favorite wine or beer and letting your taste buds go wild.
Compliments of sous Chef Chris Pilipczuk at The Prince of Wales Hotel & Spa.