Can you believe that Thanksgiving is next week? Are you hosting or traveling? Either way, you can provide the easiest appetizer for entertaining by making the perfect charcuterie plate. You don’t have to make a thing, just assemble and go. Plus, it looks like you slaved away. Here are my favorite tips for making this platter of meats and cheeses look absolutely stunning.
Charcuterie is just a fancy way of saying cold, cooked meats. And what goes well with cold meats? Cheeses! So collectively, it is a platter of meats and cheeses, as well as other little items that go well with them. I think charcuterie is the perfect appetizer for everyone. You can put fruits and veggies on the tray along with the meats and cheeses. You can add crackers and bread, nuts and spreads. Really, anything goes.
First, you have to start with the meats. I always like to go with Italian meats – prosciutto, salami, pepperoni – just because they were meant for this type of treatment. But you can really use any type of meats that you like. My goal is always to have 3 different types of meats on the tray if I am serving a larger crowd. If it’s a smaller gathering, 2 is fine.
Now for the cheeses. This is where it can get a bit more technical. People have different tastes for cheeses. Some like strong flavors like those in blue cheeses while others prefer more mild flavors like brie. Still others like their good, old cheddar. So here is my solution for pleasing everyone. Have 3 cheeses, each of a different texture and flavor. For example, cheddar is a typical crowd pleaser, it is a medium textured cheese and goes with most things. Blue cheese is more pungent and soft. Parmesan is a hard cheese with a lot of flavor but it isn’t overpowering. See the differences. So if you can include several different types of cheeses, most people will find something that they like.
Then you get to add in the fun stuff. I like to include some fruits that go well with cheese and meats. My favorites to include are grapes and figs. Other than loving them for their color, they pair well with stronger flavors. I love to wrap prosciutto around half of a fig. It is delicious! Figs also pair well with manchego cheese. Yum! Grapes are very easy to pop in your mouth and also pair well with lots of meats and cheeses. Pears and apples are yummy too. You can include small pickles (cornichons) or cucumbers. Tomatoes are an easy addition to any charcuterie plate.
The perfect charcuterie plate includes a little crunch and something to layer meats and cheeses on. Crackers check both of those boxes so I always have them out. I also like to have a little bread. A baguette works perfectly! Some nuts are a great addition too. They add the crunch and a little salt to the mix. Almonds are always my favorite to add, but cashews or macadamia nuts are fun too.
Lastly, I add in some herbs for color and a little added flavor. Basil is the best because it smells so good and has a fantastic flavor that pairs well with Italian meats. But you can use almost anything. It is more for color and texture on the platter than for anything else. I have a friend who loves to use a big bunch of dill. I like rosemary. It’s really up to you!
All that is left to do is assemble your platter. Arrange it artfully and your guests will think that you slaved away on this. But if you really think about it, all you did was buy a bunch of stuff and put in on a fancy plate. How simple is that?! Don’t forget some cute appetizer plates and some knives for cutting meats and cheeses. Then it’s complete. You have a great appetizer for entertaining this holiday season.