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Building Charcuterie with The Kilted Chef

We recently joined The Kilted Chef for a live charcuterie building session. Building a beautiful charcuterie board is all about the Thrillers, the Fillers and the Spillers.

Tips for building a charcuterie board

1.Determine how the charcuterie board will be used. Will it be used as a grazing board before dinner? Will it be an entree or maybe a late night snack.

2. Use this determination to decide how large the board will be and also use it as a budget guide. For an appetizer or late evening board I usually allow a budget of $5 to $7 per person. For an entree board allow $12 to $15 per person.

3. Before you shop the stores, shop your pantry. Do you have any fillets? Nuts, crackers, vegetables, olives, pickles etc. This could help you save money.

4. Go to the store with a clear picture of what you would like your board to look like. Randomly picking up odds and ends can lead to an overly expensive charcuterie board.

5. Follow the rule of three. Have a thriller, a filler, and a Spiller. The thrillers are usually higher and items like meats and cheeses, fillers help keep the cost of the overall board down, this is your baguette, crackers, and vegetables. The spillers are the items that finish the board and make it look appetizing and well-rounded. Consider things like grapes and small fruits.

6. consider putting some of your items into interesting vessels, this will give your board visual appeal, it will give you height variances, and they will fill space. Use mason jars, small bowls, and antique dishware.

7. Provide your guests with plenty of utensils so that no one is left using their fingers. A particularly like to use antique utensils as I find they really suit the look of the wooden boards. I also keep a variety of skewers, of different sizes, on hand, I use these for smaller fruits and vegetables like blueberries and tomatoes.

Place plates beside your board, this will discourage people from eating directly off the board.When building the board I like to start with my cheese., I like to have a minimum of three types of cheese, I always have Brie that I accompany with chutneys, jams, or honey. I offset this with two other types, such as mozzarella and havarti, I like to cut these in different ways so that my board has texture.

Once I have my cheese down I add my meats, again I like the rule of three. I tend to snuggle my meat up against my cheese. These are my thrillers. Next I add my fillers, these will go a long way to covering the board without having to spend a lot of money, when I do a charcuterie board I like to set it out without any of the board showing, personally I prefer the visual interest that this provides.

The first fillers I put down are crackers and baguettes. I like my boards to make sense so I put these items near other food items that I think they would compliment, I'll put the bag at near the meats the crackers near the cheese etc.

The next thing I add are my jars. Some of these will have sauces in them, some will have olives, some will have pickles, and again these fill space. once these are in place I like to start filling in the gaps with fruits and vegetables. Cut the fruits and vegetables in a way that offer visual appeal. I particularly like Spears when doing a charcuterie board, this is how I tend to cut my peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes. Another unique way to serve a dip is just enough off the bottom of a pepper so that it stands upright, remove the top and all of the seeds and use that to hold the dip.

Once my board is all filled in I like to take more fruits such as blueberries blackberries and raspberries and just Nestle them here and there for pots of color. My favorite thing to use on a charcuterie board is figs, once you cut them in half they're visually stunning. Strawberries cut in half work well

8. When you're preparing your meats and cheese, cut extra so that you can refresh the board

9. Once you refresh your board once or twice begin to downsize it, remove the board to the kitchen and move the contents to a smaller board. If you don't have smaller boards on hand move it to a plate. The idea is always to keep it looking fresh rather than picked over.

10. A Charcuterie board can be made ahead of your guests arrival, cover the contents with a damp paper towel and loosely top with Saran wrap and place in the fridge until ready for service. Once the charcuterie board has been set out it should be finished or removed on or at the two-hour mark.

Tangy mustard sauce
1/2 cup of prepared mustard
1/4 cup of HP sauce
1/4 cup finely diced onions
1 tsp of black pepper
1 pinch of salt
Combine all of the ingredients and refrigerate for 1/2 hour before service

Creamy Parmesan Mayo
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp fresh grated Parmesan cheese
The juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
One pinch of salt
One pinch of pepper
Combine all the ingredients and refrigerate for at least one half hour before service.

Both are excellent for adding to a charcuterie board.