When it’s time to plan a party, we always vote for a charcuterie board. This platter of smoked, cured and cooked meats is perfect for a pre-dinner spread, small bites, and cocktails, or even for a football viewing party. Since we love cheese almost as much as charcuterie, it seemed natural to pair them and make one big, fantastically tasty platter.
We highly recommend you try this at home. No need to overthink it! Parties are fun – and cheese and charcuterie should be, too. Just read our primer and then get creative with your own pairings. All of the items and flavors work well together, so you can’t go wrong.
We’ve divided the board into 5 stacks, or suites. You can pick one or two columns in our pairing and recreate them for a small board. Or expand your selection as needed for a larger board.
The nice thing about all this variety is that your guests can mix and match to create new combinations or nibble on the items they like best. There’s something for everyone here.
With the charcuterie, you want to represent a few styles, flavors and textures on your platter. Cooked meats like pâté or mousse (suite 1: Pâté de Campagne); dry-cured meats like ham (suite 3: Jambon de Bayonne), cured sausage (suite 2: Saucisson Sec); smoked meats like duck breast (suite 4: Smoked Duck Breast); something spreadable like mousse (suite 5: Mousse Truffée) or rillettes.
Now it’s time to think about cheeses that will play well with these meats. Again, look to represent a few different types. Texture is important. Soft, buttery cheeses contrast well with firmer meat. In pairing, it works both ways: you can choose either complementary flavors or contrasting ones.
Just remember that you are looking to cut the fat and protein with some acidity from a complementary item. That acidity can come from the cured meat, or the tang of a ripe cheese, or from the accompaniments, like tart apple or sharp mustard. We chose some fruit, because fresh figs, pears, apples and grapes always work with cheese and charcuterie.
You will need an appropriate vehicle to deliver all this deliciousness to your mouth. From crumbly whole wheat biscuits to slices of airy baguette, there is a perfect match for every cheese and piece of charcuterie.
You may want some garnishes to accompany all this flavor. Add is tartness to the board with caperberries, balsamic glaze and even bitter greens. Bring in some sweetness with honeycomb, and get some spice in the nuts. See our notes below for accents and extra credit items for the truly ambitious host.