The Perfect Southern Charcuterie Board
Planning is the key if you are trying to learn how to make a charcuterie board.
Whether you are making a charcuterie board for two or for a group you have to start with the end in mind.
The perfect board is relative to how it is served. Will it precede a huge group dinner or is it the main attraction at a cocktail hour? Whichever option you choose will affect the type of items you choose and that ever-important facet, the charcuterie board aesthetic. With a bit of foresight, you will be well on your way to creating your own charcuterie board ideas in no time.
If you are attempting to build the perfect Valentine’s Day board you may want to go a little light on the meats and cheeses and focus on the jams and honey. On the other hand, if you are building an awesome spread for the ravenous Christmas dinner visitors then maybe you add some hefty portions of smoked turkey.
If you are serving wine, always keep that in mind.
Textures are just as important as the taste and look of your board. Your cheese selection is a great opportunity to provide some flavorful textures.
Trivia: Similar to Champagne and Cognac, cheeses have a “designated location of origin” and they may only be called their respective name if produced a certain way in a certain location.
Aged cheeses tend to be smokier, nuttier, and fruitier in flavor. Think about darker cheddars, gouda, and colby. All of which you can find at the local Tennessee-based Flowers Creamery. We suggest the Liberty Hill Gouda
Common types of soft cheese are feta, Brie, ricotta, cream cheese, Camembert, Chevre, and – of course – cottage cheese. Soft cheeses tend to be a little more difficult to make and are, thus, harder to find locally. A good local option for Tennessee is the Magnolia Camembert from Blackberry Farms.
Firm cheeses are cheeses that have been cooked and pressed which produces a more compact cheese. Their texture is usually firm, although some hard cheeses, like Parmesan and Romano, may have a rather granular texture. Gruyère, Emmenthal, Jarlsberg, Raclette and Beaufort are good examples.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any place in Tennessee where these cheeses are locally made. Let us know if you know of a place!
The meats are the crowning glory of any good southern charcuterie board. Cured and smoked meats of all sorts are a specialty in the south.
These thicker meats provide a hearty addition to your board and are great if the charcuterie is the main attraction. Meats like salami, Spanish Chorizo, Rosette de Lyon, French Saucisson, cured sausage, and hunter’s sausage will also be a great conversation starter.
Smokey and Salty meats like Porter Road Butcher’s pork bacon or savory crumbled pancetta from Bare Bones Butcher help give a tasty counterpoint to the more complicated meats you may want to show your tribe. Everyone loves bacon!
Smooth meats are also called Forcemeat. But let's be real, that just sounds weird. Anyway think about pâtés, terrines, roulades, and galantines. These are great to spread on a cracker and add some sophistication to your board.
Spreads & Condiments
Not everyone likes too much spice or may find some flavors overpowering. A solid spread selection gives guests the opportunity to choose their own adventure. The right mustard could be the perfect pairing for chunk of Gouda!
Fig Preserves from The Loveless Cafe or Muscadine Jelly from Jones Orchard Cafe can help give your board a sweet spot. But there are hundreds of options to choose from. Apple butter, Apricot Jam, Strawberry Preserves are all great choices. But the gold standard is locally sourced honey from Johnson’s Honey Farm
Bad Bobs Mustard from The Mustard Company Store or any one of the wonderful pickled products like Chow Chow or Okra from The Old Mill. But you can’t go wrong with a straight-up hot sauce like the blazers over at Blister Hot Sauce! A dab'll do ya!
Fruits and Veggies add a bit of balance to a great board. While decadent cheese choices and hefty meats can be everyone’s favorite, a good fruit or veg can help cleanse a palette or provide a counterpoint to the other flavors.
While we could point you to hundreds of places to get great fruit or veg we encourage you to source those from as close to your local community as possible. Just make sure you mix it up with both sweet and savory options.
The proper charcuterie board is about providing options and experiences to your guests. Add some crunchy nuts, spiced crackers, or herb bits to ensure some variety.
One of the most satisfying aspects of any meal is the conversation between the guests. Your board is the perfect opportunity to start your dinner off with great chats about local purveyors of cheeses, meats, and other goodies.