Putting together a grand-looking charcuterie board doesn’t have to take a lot of work. Chef Britt shows us her tips and techniques for putting together a super easy, yet very chic-looking board that will have your guests in awe. Read on for a wonderfully simple recipe for smokehouse BBQ nuts!
1. Pick your board based on how many people you want to feed. By this I mean, choosing the size of your serving platter. Wooden cutting boards are perfect for this application, and there’s plenty of options at ATBBQ.com, including these gorgeous UTC hardwood boards. To determine what size will work best for your crowd, think about the size of a standard sheet of paper: 8.5″x11″. For every sheet of paper, you can feasibly fit enough stuff on there to feed five people. The black walnut board I used is roughly the surface area of two and a half sheets of paper and was perfect for creating a board that could accommodate roughly 12 people.
2. Decide if you are feeding a charcuterie board as a meal, or as an accompaniment to a meal to determine how much protein to buy. On the lighter end, I try to aim for about 2 oz of protein per person. If the board is the main event, look to have about 4 oz of protein per person. This guide will help you visualize how much you need to purchase to satisfy your guests. (In my experience, however, you can never have too much. If you’re in doubt- err on the side of MORE.)
- 5 people = 10 oz – 1.25 lbs
- 10 people = 1.25 lbs – 2.5 lbs
- 20 people = 2.5 lbs – 5 lbs
- 30 people = 3.75 lbs – 7.5 lbs
- 40 people = 5 lbs – 10 lbs
3. Condiments are a must! My use of the term “condiment” is pretty loose here. I’m not just talking mustard and honey. It also includes jams, preserves, pickles, olives, dried fruit, and nuts. My goal for this particular charcuterie spread was to bring easy grilled elements and ramp up the savory profile. I made some smokehouse nuts (recipe below) using a blend of BBQ seasonings and slow-smoked to perfection (Chef Tom outlines the process here). I also love mustard and pickles with cured smoky meats, so today I featured some local favorites including the Smoky Cowboy Mustard and Dad’s Spicy Garlic Pickles.
4. Carbs are also a must! Unless you’re Keto. Carbs like crackers and bread are a necessary way to not only stretch your dollar but also to create a vehicle for the meats to be served. For this spread, I coated some little naan breads in extra virgin olive oil and grilled them over hot coals. As a complete carb advocate, I won’t be biased if you decide to grill slices of fresh sourdough baguette or open a box of Ritz Crackers. All are welcome. If you are watching your carb intake, however, feel inclined to serve apple slices or parmesan crisps instead.
5. Always put something fresh on the board. Whether it’s fresh seasonal fruit or crudite, this will break up the monotony of salt-driven foods. Besides, produce is good for you and you deserve only the best. For this board, I grilled up some fresh sweet peppers until the skins blackened. I then peeled the skins, revealing smoky, tender peppers. I also love adding a simple microgreen or sprout mix to bring some bitterness and astringent flavors. It also always brightens up the board, giving it an extra oomph of color. Greens are also perfect for filling in any spaces so that your board will always look bountiful.
6. Have all the serving utensils in mind. This means knives, tongs, spoons, and toothpicks. Unless everyone’s really close with each other and doesn’t mind dipping in with their hands, you’ll want to make sure every component is easily served. I love this charcuterie set from Wusthof. It’s perfect for many components on your board, especially that serrated knife that can cut through a log of salami or a crusty baguette with ease.
7. When deciding what meats to serve, look for variety in both flavors and textures. This board features four different sliced charcuterie including a dry coppa, a sweet soppressata, prosciutto, and smoked German hunter’s sausage (which is available in-store at All Things Barbecue.) If you’re so inclined to make your own charcuterie, we carry tons of great meat-processing products to help you along the way, including this steak locker.
8. When you’re ready to serve, make the meat more appealing by “fluffing” it. This is just a simple process where you separate each slice of meat and bend it to give it some height, creating organic curves that are more eye-catching than just slabs of meat slapped on the board. Doing this will simply show your guests that you put some thought into how it looks. Obviously, not every meat will yield the same way that prosciutto might. For instance, my sliced german sausage was simply piled high to give it some visual interest. Either way, allow the meats to settle onto the board organically, which will give it a very chic, rustic look.
In general, I tend to keep things easy when I make a charcuterie or cheese board for a party. I can contribute as much as I want, but never feel obligated to create a whole board from scratch. Throwing a party is hard enough, and there’s no reason to add to that stress (especially now that we’re in the thick of the holidays.) Keep these tips in mind for your next gathering, and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying the party with your guests.
Read on for a recipe that you will use all year round!
You might also like: Building a Cheese Board
Smokehouse BBQ Nuts Recipe
Toss the assorted nuts with a small amount of water. Just enough to coat the nuts. Season with your favorite BBQ rub. We used a combination of Plowboys BBQ Yardbird Rub and John Henry’s Pecan Rub. Spread out on a sheet pan. Smoke at 175ºF for a couple of hours, until the nuts are dried out. The water will evaporate, and the rub will stick to the nuts.