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How to create the ultimate charcuterie board

Whether it’s easy entertaining or a sophisticated soirée, there is nothing quite like a cheese or charcuterie board to elevate a social gathering to the next level. A go-to for busy hosts, a cheese board brimming with delicious seasonal goodies is the perfect appetiser or can even act as the main event. The best part is, they are super versatile and can be adjusted to suit different tastes or the number of guests. Follow these simple tips to discover how easy it is to create the ultimate charcuterie board and delight your guests.

Select a board or platter

The first step for creating your charcuterie board is to choose the board or platter. Wooden cheese boards are a great option and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. For smaller get togethers, one platter is generally enough, however if you are hosting a crowd, you may want to spread it over two or more boards and add some small bowls into the mix.

Choose your cheeses

The star of the show. With such a huge variety of cheeses available it's easy to get overwhelmed at the cheese counter. The general rule of thumb is to include one hard cheese, like an aged cheddar, manchego or pecorino, one soft cheese, like a brie or goat cheese (chèvre) and one blue cheese. Of course, if you are entertaining a larger crowd, you can incorporate four or five cheeses. Remember that the key to a great cheese board is variety - a good selection of different cheeses will keep your guests coming back for more. To keep things interesting, consider including a cheese with an unusual flavour like truffle or ash. Take the cheeses out of fridge at least 30 minutes before serving, so they are at room temperature when your guests arrive.

Include some meat options

If your guests are particularly hungry, they will appreciate the inclusion of meats. Proscuitto or Parma ham, salami and a spicy chorizo are all crowd pleasers. When assembling the board, remember to spread these out and separate each piece of meat to make it easier for your guests.

Don’t underestimate crackers and bread

Despite what some may say, crackers and bread are more than mere vessels for the cheese and are a vital element to any charcuterie board. Include a variety of crackers, crostini and a fresh, sliced baguette. Different flavours, shapes and sizes mean the combinations for your guests to make are boundless.

Cheese lovers assemble!

We've all seen ridiculously aesthetic charcuterie boards on Instagram that look too good to eat. Believe it or not, assembling an appealing platter can be quite easy and formulaic if you follow a few simple rules. Start by placing the cheeses and meats and ensure they are nicely spaced out. Remember to separate each piece of meat for ease. Next, add any small bowls you are using for dips and olives. Add knives and spoons and remember that blue cheeses can divide a crowd so, if possible, include one knife for each cheese.

Now for the fun part! Once you have the larger elements down, you can start adding the more decorative ingredients. There are limitless options here, but think berries, figs, grapes, nuts, pickles, sundried tomatoes, honeycomb, fruit pastes and pâté. Choose ingredients that complement each other and place them close together, for example, a pungent blue cheese should sit beside sweet honey or quince paste, and nuts should go beside brightly coloured fruit. Fill any remaining gaps with crackers. If you have space on the table, place a few lemons, rosemary or other fresh food around the board to add even more visual interest.

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