This post is sponsored by Raley’s. All opinions expressed are my own.
One of my favorite things about living in Europe, whether it be Italy or France, was that it was super easy to gather the ingredients to prepare amazing charcuterie boards at any time. The markets presented easy access to meats, cheeses, olives, dried fruits and so much more! My love for building charcuterie boards has only grown more since coming home and I love to assemble beautiful boards when we hosts guests or even if it’s just the two of us. I’m excited today to teach you how to building your own dinner-worthy charcuterie board with minimal effort.
It took me a while to find my go-to grocery store once I moved but Raley’s proved to offer the best variety of the foods that I love at the best prices. I love that I have a location right up the street from my home for weekly shopping or quick runs when I’ve forgotten something. And when it comes to building charcuterie boards they have everything I need from olive mixes to a great wine selection for pairing.
What Is Charcuterie?
Charcuterie is actually a French term that means ‘cooked meat’ as it came from a time before refrigeration and it was a way of preserving mainly pork products. Today when someone mentions the word ‘charcuterie’ it often means a beautiful arrangement of meats, cheese, fruits, nuts and more.
What Are The Components Of A Charcuterie Board?
When I prepare any charcuterie board, I like to focus on these 5 categories when deciding what to buy to build my board:
- Meats: Thinly sliced and cured meats such as Prosciutto, Mortadella and Speck are great options for your board. For this I always head to the section of my local Raley’s that features packaged prosciutto, coppa and pancetta. You can also find these items in the deli and you can buy them by weight! I also like to buy a dried sausage stick such as salami or sopressatta. COLUMBUS makes a great selection of unsliced sausages that include flavors like black pepper and fennel. You’ll want to use a sharp knife to cut these rather thin to display on your board. And make sure you remove any outer coatings on salami sticks before slicing!
- Cheeses: After living in France for a year and also coming from the dairy-state of Wisconsin, cheese is one of my favorite things to pick for my boards. In the deli section at Raley’s you can find a variety of specialty cheeses to choose from. I like to pick 2-3 options and always choose a hard/sharp cheese, a soft cheese like brie and then a flavored cheese. Be sure to serve your cheeses at room temperature for the best flavors!
- Accoutrements: This is where things can get fun because you get to choose a variety of olives, nuts, dried or fresh fruits, dips and chocolates. I always head to the deli counter at Raley’s to grab a container of their olive mixture for my boards. You might also consider adding cornichons, or other pickled vegetables. I also like to add dips to my board including hummus or artichoke. The section with bulk items is a great place to find smaller quantities of nuts, dried fruits and event chocolates. And no charcuterie board is complete without a touch of chocolate!
- Fruits & Veggies: Since you’re making one of these boards as a replacement for dinner, you’ll want a few options outside of just meat and cheese. It’s also a great opportunity to add color to your board. For vegetables, I like to pick up on-the-vine cherry tomato clusters, slice up mini cucumbers or even add red bell pepper slices. You can also add roasted vegetables such as zucchini, cauliflower or asparagus spears. Some of my favorite fruits to add to my boards include sliced pears and apples, berries and clusters of grapes.
- Finishing Touches: Here’s where you’re going to take your board to table-ready by adding in a variety of crackers, sliced breads and toppings. Raley’s offers a great selection of unique crackers right in front of their deli case so when you’re waiting for your olives or sliced meats, you can browse a variety of options. I also like to thinly slice baguette and even toast it before adding it to my board. You’ll want want to consider some toppings such as honey, fig jam or spicy peppers to top off your cheese. I love the combination of honey and brie on a cracker.
How Do You Arrange A Charcuterie Board?
This is where you’ll want to tap into your creative side to bring all of your ingredients that you gathered together on your board. If you love to entertain or love putting together fancy charcuterie boards like me then I suggest investing in a beautiful wood or marble board. If you don’t have one you can use any wooden cutting board or serving platter.
I like to start by evaluating everything that is going to go onto my board and slice/cut/wash/dry everything before I get started. Slice your meats thin, cube or crack apart your hard cheeses and wash any produce. Think about what kinds of small bowls or dishes you might need on your board to hold things like olives, honey, jams or spreads. Put the items that you intent to put into the dishes in the dishes and then lay them out on your board. You’re going to build your board around these dishes. (Don’t worry, you can always move them around once you start to build.)
I always tend to start with my cheeses. They seem to take up the most room and I always put them in three separate spots around the board. If you have any jams or spreads to go with your cheese, put those right by said cheese so that people know that they go together. Once my cheeses are placed I like to add in my meats around the same spots. Larger slices of salami can be folded and stacked to create height and texture thinner meats like prosciutto can be crumpled or bunched up to to the same.
Now that your main attractions are set on your board you can fill in the gaps with your nuts, dried fruits, crackers, breads and fruits and vegetables. Don’t stress! I will often move things around on my boards multiple times until I feel like something has the right fit. It’s almost like a puzzle and you can think of it as an art project.
Once everything is placed on my board I often like to grab fresh thyme or rosemary as garnish. These final touches seem to bring everything together visually and even if you’re sharing your board between you and your family, they’ll appreciate it even more!
What Type Of Wine Do You Serve With Charcuterie?
This is probably one of my favorite parts of serving a charcuterie board. Raley’s offers an amazing selection of local and wines from around the world and whether you like red, white or rose they will have something for you! Here are just a few of my favorites that I suggest and that pair well with every board:
- Decoy California Cabernet Sauvignon: If you love red wine, you’ll love the flavor palette of this wine. It’s fruity and fresh and well balanced.
- La Crema Sonoma Coast Chardonnay: If you prefer a white wine, this is one of my favorites! It offers the crisp flavors of pear along with an oaky finish.
- Miraval Rose: Of course I had to include a French wine to pair with a French charcuterie board! Miraval Rose is one of my favorites because not only does it feature a beautiful color, but it also features the elegant flavors of fruit and spring flowers. It’s perfect to pair with a lighter board during the summer months!
If you were ever intimidated by creating your own charcuterie boards I hope that this guide will help inspire you. You can really impress your friends with a beautiful board and wine pairing or create a smaller one for a romantic date-night at home. Try out new pairings with different cheeses, meats and dips. If you have a Raley’s in your area they offer everything that you will need to create a masterpiece!