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  • Laura Cognetti

How to Craft the Perfect Charcuterie (or cheese board)

How many times have you been to a party and seen an incredible cheese board that seems to be able to satisfy everyone in attendance? Have you ever thought - I want to do that? If you are anything like me you have - and trust me, you can.

A few years back I wanted to be able to make cheese boards that people would love, no matter how picky they were. Over the years I've worked to find the perfect board (found it - thank you Home Goods) and I've learned how to build a board to suit my audience. There are a few things to keep in mind when building your board, and a bunch of great ways to fill in all of those empty spaces that no one wants to look at. I've included three pictures of different boards I've done over the last year. As you can see not everything needs to be edible - for the fall miniature pumpkins are a great touch. If it's around Easter, feel free to throw on some plastic Easter eggs for color. It's also good to have some small ramekins that you can fill with softer cheeses, honey, chocolate chips or olives.

So without further ado here are my tips:

1. Know your audience - not every family is into what I would call adventurous cheeses. Some people just like cheddar and mozzarella - and that's ok, you can still make it exciting. Try cutting the cheese in different shapes, use different sharpness, and try some softer cheese that is spreadable.

2. Strike a good balance between sweet and salty. With a lot of cheese, olives and some nuts you need something to break up the heaviness. I love fresh strawberries - they are great space fillers and everyone loves them. They bring great color as well. Another good tip for sweetness is a ramekin filled with chocolate chips or dried craisins.

3. Use bread and crackers! Not everyone loves crackers with cheese, not everyone loves bread with cheese. Satisfy both of them by adding crackers and bread - the more carbs the better. You can also display bread in different ways. I have used it to create a border, and I've also used it to create division on the board.

4. Is your crowd vegetarian or not? I love Italian meats, the more the merrier - but they aren't for everyone. Feel free to throw on some cute petite carrots, celery sticks, radishes or tomatoes. You can even make little veggie blends on cocktail toothpicks - one of my personal favorites is a mozzarella ball, cherry tomato, piece of basil and a drizzle of balsamic reduction.

5. Balsamic reduction reminds me to make sure I include something wet and sticky. I usually use honey - either in a ramekin or small pot with a honey stirrer. You can also serve it directly on a cheese - goat cheese and honey are an incredible combination.

6. FILL IN THE GAPS!!! I can't stress this enough - when you bring out a board it should be completely full with zero gaps. Utilize what you have to create this full, luxurious effect. You can use grapes, prosciutto, strawberries, dried fruit, nuts, etc.

7. Want to include breadsticks or cheese straws but not sure where they'll go? Not a problem. Mason jars are all the rage right now - use a small one in the center or up in a corner to fill a gap and serve a need.

8. Make sure you have the right knives and mini forks for what you are serving. You don't want to serve hard cheeses with knives that wouldn't cut them the right way. If you have a small serving of olives, include an olive fork or make sure that you have enough toothpicks.

I'd love to see what you create! Make sure to tag #greatkitchenescape on Instagram. Thanks for following along ~ LC

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