Charcuterie has gotten a makeover! Originally a French concept referring to a spread of cured meats and cheeses, it has gotten a makeover a la American pop culture. Charcuterie can now refer to any epic spread of food of any kind on a board or platter. Epic charcuterie. Brunch charcuterie? Done. Taco Tuesday food board? Sign me up. Epic dessert spread? Every night of the week, please and thank you.
Charcuterie, food boards, epically magical and abundant smorgasbords, or whatever you want to call them are a conceptual gift from the food gods above to hosts everywhere. They come together quickly (no standing at the stove all day!) with a mega visual impact. And given the recent no-holds barred, everything goes attitude in the charcuterie multiverse, they are now applicable at any hosting occasion you can dream up.
We’re fair trade focused here at Ten Thousand Villages, so we’re bringing you some food board tips of the trade today on boards and platters handmade by our fair trade partners. We always encourage fair trade food consumption (looking at you, coffee, tea and chocolate) and remind you, most trends are fair trade and ethically accessible with a little intentional consumership. Hurray for conscientious fun! (who do I talk to about getting that coined as a catch phrase?)
How to Build an Epic Charcuterie Board
- Identify your base! Whatever spread you’re putting together, choose a size that can accommodate the appropriate amount of food for your group (bearing in mind you can always replenish as you go. That’s one of the beauties of a food board!). You should also decide if your spread will benefit from a base with sides, or if it will fare just fine without. Our taco board, for instance, we built in a deeper dish to make sure our taco shells couldn’t jump ship.
- If anything requires pre-prep (like actual cooking and washing/drying of any fruits/veggies), begin there and keep things warm in a low heat oven (200 degrees should do it) as you build your spread.
- Place your anchor food, or centerpiece. Our anchor foods on the brunch board are our waffles and dishes of spreads. On the dessert board, our stars are the jar of rolled wafer cookies and the nut butter dips. It’s easiest to design the aesthetic of the board if you work in stages.
- Place your medium-sized items. If you didn’t employ the river technique with any of your anchor foods, now is the time to make rivers around your anchors. Embrace the imagery in the phrase “river technique.” It’s exactly what it sounds like! Just take the food and create a meandering river flow across the board. The river technique is a seasoned spread builder’s go-to for creating visual interest, and ensuring a food is available to all parties no matter where they’re sitting in relation to the board. You’re looking like a pro now!
- Place your smaller items in the remaining spaces. Squeeze in berries, grapes, granola, peppers, fruit slices, individual candies, etc.
- Garnish! Whether it’s cilantro, mint leaves (these wilt quickly, so make sure they go on at the last second) or candies, don’t forget to garnish. This elevates your board from a food mashup to a work of art. Presentation matters!
Like Leslie Knope (where are my fellow Parks and Rec watchers at?), I live for waffles, so naturally they took center stage on our brunch board. See them up there exemplifying that river technique? Mmmmmm. Epic charcuterie at its finest.
We chose the Minimalist Serving Board as our base here. Hand carved and featuring an etched design in the mango wood, this ethically produced board is made by artisans in India. It’s the perfect width for a small group gathering, or to make several boards for the length of a large table.
- Dry your berries well and place them close to last since their juices can stain and run.
- Give your brunch board balance. Sweet foods always need savory counterparts, so add in bacon, egg bites, nuts, sausages or nut butters according to your dietary preferences.
Fair Trade Favorites:
I’ve never met a person who doesn’t like tacos and I don’t want to. I was fortunate enough to have had mi bisabuela’s homemade beans, rice and tortillas and those flavors are my true north. Heritage foods do something special for the soul, right?
We chose the Lovely Leaves Bowl and coordinating Flower Petals Bowl as our bases for the Taco Spread. With low sides and a wide surface area, the Lovely Leaves Bowl was made for a taco spread; especially with so many coordinating bowls to hold the true heroes of any taco night: salsa and guacamole!
- Provide guests with sauce options: pico de gallo, restaurant style salsa, and hot sauce with varying degrees of intensity is a good call.
- A taco spread works for any meal! Check out this breakfast taco recipe from The Modern Proper and pump up your a.m. with taco goodness.
Fair Trade Favorites:
- Hot sauce: Black Mamba
- Tortilla Warmer: Otomi Mexico
Movie Night Board
What everyone has been waiting for: dessert! Whether you plan on curling up with a date, or your family, movie nights in are always a hit. Elevate your evening with a quick and crowd-pleasing spread of finger food desserts and popcorn!
We chose the Minimalist Serving Board in the narrow size and layered in baked goods, colorful candies, fruit and nut/cocoa spreads. We added a big ol’ bowl of popcorn in the Lovely Leaves Bowl, served on the Rectangle Handled Basket, hand woven by artisans in Bangladesh. This provides stability for optimum popcorn to sofa proximity.
- Variety is key. If for some unfathomable reason you don’t care for popcorn, make sure you have alternative salty fare to balance all that sugar.
- Add height and texture with pretzel sticks or rolled wafer cookies like you see on our board.
- Crafting a board with kiddos in mind? Try enticing them to the healthier spots in the board by using fruit shape cutters! Who doesn’t want to gobble up a kiwi slice in the shape of a bunny rabbit?
Fair Trade Favorites:
- More space needed for drinks? Try this stunning handpainted tray.
Want more tips on traditional charcuterie? Check out 3 Steps to Building a Better Charcuterie Board. Happy hosting!