Making off-the-charts charcuterie

If a charcuterie platter is the star of the party, the star of any charcuterie platter is the cheese. Sure, technically, charcuterie is supposed to be a collection of cured meats like salami, prosciutto, chorizo, and smoked ham. But all alone on a platter, cured meats are just a one-note flavor profile. What charcuterie needs to make it shine is the creamy, nutty, tangy goodness of cheese. This meat-and-cheese duo, along with nuts, dried fruits, mustards, jams, and spreads, is what turns an ordinary party spread into a magical, culinary delight.

Here in Wisconsin, our off-the-charts charcuterie is made with selections of our award-winning artisan cheeses. Because just like macaroni and Wisconsin cheese or a great grilled Wisconsin cheese sandwich, Wisconsin cheese always takes something good and makes it great.

Browse our website for a great charcuterie recipe (as well as a great macaroni and cheese or grilled cheese recipe), or scroll down for some tips on building a better charcuterie board.

Building a better charcuterie board

Here are some tips for creating a charcuterie and cheese board that will leave your guests speechless (and not because they'll have their mouths full of charcuterie):

  1. Go for variety in taste and texture. When selecting cheeses, choose a hard cheese like parmesan, a soft cheese like brie, a semi-firm cheese like muenster, and a crumbly cheese like feta, as well as a blue cheese or a smoky cheese for variety in flavor. For meats, include whole-muscle cuts like prosciutto, cured sausages like salami, and forcemeats like chicken liver pate.
  2. Leave the bread whole. Rather slicing the bread ahead of time, leave it for guests to cut. It will keep the bread fresher.
  3. Adopt an artful layout. When composing your charcuterie board, start with something tall in the middle – a mound of grapes or a bowl with artichoke dip. Surround it with four to six types of cheese spread out around the board. Add bread and crackers, as well as small bowls of tapenade, jams, honey, and dips. Then fill in the larger gaps with roles or slices of meats. Finally, fill in any gaps with accent ingredients like nuts, fresh and dried fruits, olives, pickles, and roasted vegetables.
  4. Use multiple knives. Give each cheese its own knife, so that the flavors don't mix.
  5. Set out cheeses early. Cheese is best served at room temperature, so place all varieties on the charcuterie board at least 30 minutes before serving to allow it time to warm up.
  6. Buy the right amount. two ounces of meat and two ounces of cheese per person is a good rule of thumb when charcuterie is an appetizer. When it's the whole meal, five ounces of meat and five ounces of cheese is more appropriate.
  7. Cut ahead of time. For the hard cheeses, cut several slices for your guests ahead of time to make it easier for them to load their plates.
  8. Think sweet and savory. Charcuterie is all about flavor combinations. Balance out the salty and savory flavors of your meats and cheeses with the sweetness of honey, truffle honey, fresh fruits, dried fruits, and even bits of quality chocolate.
  9. Assemble in place. If you're really loading up your charcuterie board, consider building it where your guests will be sampling it. That will let you avoid having to move it and potentially ruining your delicate arrangement.

Videos: Discover Your Next Favorite Cheese

FAQs: What is charcuterie?

What is charcuterie?

Charcuterie technically refers to a collection of cured meats, but it also has come to mean a serving of a variety of cured meats with cheese, nuts, fruit, vegetables, spreads, dips, mustards and bread or crackers.

How do you pronounce charcuterie?

Charcuterie is a word of French origin and in English is typically pronounced "shahr-KOO-tuh-ree" or "shahr-koo-tuh-REE."

What's the best way to serve charcuterie?

Charcuterie is most easily served on a wooden cutting board, a slate or chalkboard, or a marble slab.

Why charcuterie loves Wisconsin cheese

Wisconsin loves a great charcuterie platter, because what could be better than cheese and meat? Especially when your cheese is made by some of the finest cheesemakers in the world. You see, here in Wisconsin, we've been making cheese for more than 175 years, longer than Wisconsin has been a state. We're pretty proud of the amount of cheese we make (more than any other place in the world) and of the quality of cheese we make, which has earned us 5,552 cheesemaking awards (more than any other state or country in the world.) We're the only place in the world (outside of Switzerland) with a Master Cheesemakers program, and we produce roughly half of all the artisan cheese made in America.

So, when you're shopping for your charcuterie plate, sure to look for the Proudly Wisconsin Cheese™ badge on the label. That way you know you're serving the best cheese in the universe.

Craving award-winning aged cheddar, pining for parmesan, or searching for a new cheese to try? The world’s best cheese is just a click away! Explore our directory of Wisconsin cheesemakers and retailers who offer online cheese shopping and get cheese shipped right to your door. What are you waiting for?

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