How to build a perfect summer charcuterie board

27 Jun 2018

Bright flavors, a balance of sweet, savory, salty and buttery, varying textures and pleasing every palate are the keys to a good charcuterie plate, say Coral and Will Frischkorn, the couple who own Boulder’s popular Cured shop. Consider what type of event you’re hosting. Will it be kid-friendly, adults-only, work-related? “We try to get a sense of the event to help guide us to the types and quantities of food, likes and dislikes, and beverages that would complement it,” Coral says.
photo by Lu Mikhaylova
Cheese Choose a variety of soft, firm, blue and buttery cheeses. Be sure to balance different types of milk—cow, sheep, buffalo and goat. Meat Balance is key when it comes to charcuterie. Pair spicy salami with sweet sopressata, and include a ‘whole-muscle’ meat such as prosciutto, coppa or bresaola. Savory Savory elements allow you to add texture or flavors that might be missing from your board. Spreads, dips and pâté are all options. And offer something for vegan guests, like hummus, artichoke dip or quinoa salad. Salty This element could include pickled vegetables, mustards, tangy pickles, roasted red peppers, cured olives, artichoke hearts and salted nuts. Sweet Think seasonal fresh fruits, dried fruits, jams, red pepper jelly, chutneys, honey and honeycomb. The Base You can never go wrong with fresh baguettes, but for something different, try these suggestions from Coral: New Beat Gluten-Free Crackers; Nita Crisps Flatbread Crackers; and tidbits studded with fruits, nuts and seeds, like crackers and toasts from The Fine Cheese Co. Finishing Touches Sprigs of fresh mint and rosemary add a festive finishing touch, as do colorful bowls and wide-mouth Mason jars for olives and jams.

We asked the Frischkorns to design a summer party board for a dozen guests. Here’s what they came up with.

➊ Roquefort A long as your guests are open to a blue cheese, Roquefort is a great way to impart flavor and color to a board. Its luscious, creamy texture has a bright, tangy bite that contrasts nicely with the sweetness of summer fruits. ➋ Secret de Compostelle This raw sheep-milk cheese is from the French Pyrenees near the Spanish border. It’s a crowd pleaser, and almost everyone who tastes it loves its deep, complex flavor. Its silky texture merges sweet, salty and savory in a way that makes this cheese utterly snackable. (Don’t serve raw cheese to pregnant guests.) ➌ Sunset Bay This is one of our favorite cheeses, whenever we’re lucky enough to have a wheel of it at Cured. Not only is it visually stunning, it’s one of the best goat cheeses we’ve discovered outside southern France—and it’s made here in the U.S. at Oregon-based Rivers Edge Chèvre. A line of smoked paprika down the middle beautifully plays off the tangy citrus of the cheese. The delicate ash coating on the rind imparts a soft, creamy quality, making this a very addictive cheese! ➍ Finochietta This salami hails from Salumeria Biellese, the country’s oldest delicatessen founded in 1924 in New York by an Italian family. Finochietta, flavored with fennel and fennel pollen, is the deli’s take on this classic Tuscan salami. Almost everyone loves it, especially kids. ➎ Hot Coppa Coppa is cured pork shoulder and this one, from The Spotted Trotter in Georgia, has a lovely spicy rub on the outside. When sliced super fine, it melts in your mouth with a buttery, salty, spicy flavor that’s just incredible. It also adds a nice textural counterpoint to salami and a delicate spicy flavor to any board. ➏ The Vecchio This salami is flavored with black pepper, garlic and white wine. From Red Table Meat Co. in Minneapolis, the salami contains very little to distract from the meat, so the spices play a supporting role in this classic, which adds a nice, subtle flavor foil to the more complex meats on the board. ➐ Fruition ricotta and pea shoots This ricotta comes to us from Fruition Farms, founded and run by chef Alex Seidel of Fruition and Mercantile restaurants in Denver. This sheep-milk cheese is only made during the spring, summer and early fall, when the sheep are naturally producing milk to feed spring lambs. Its fluffy, large, soft curds pair well with grilled stone fruits, topped with jam or whipped honey, as well as spring pastas with sweet pea shoots garnished with fresh radishes. Utterly delicious! ➑ Heirloom tomatoes with burrata This burrata, by Deliziosa in Italy, is the most incredible burrata we’ve come across. It’s handmade in Puglia and has a buttery texture we haven’t found elsewhere. Stretching mozzarella and then filling it with mozzarella scraps and cream is how burrata is made. It begs to be eaten with summer heirloom tomatoes and a generous drizzle of olive oil, and pairs perfectly with prosciutto and fresh peach slices. ➒ We embellished our board with Marcona almonds, dried apricots and figs, and fresh grapes for a sweet note to contrast with the savory ingredients. While fresh fruit is lovely to use, depending on what is seasonally available, we always keep dried apricots and figs in our pantry so we have them available for last-minute boards.

Platter pairings-- Here are Will’s suggestions for beverages to accompany a board.

Frico Frizzante: This can of sparkling white wine is similar in style to Prosecco, and perfectly exemplifies the new canned-wine fad. Canned wine is more environmentally and energy friendly than bottled wine, too, because of shipping, distribution and packaging concerns. Lorenza Rose: Made by a mother-daughter team, Lorenza Rose is one of our favorites. Made in classic Provençal style, this California standout is crisp and fresh, and pairs incredibly well with the entire array of flavors you’ll find on a well-planned charcuterie board. Cantina del Pino Dolcetto d’Alba: One of Italy’s cheese-friendliest wines, Dolcetto pairs perfectly with summer flavors. Built on an acid backbone with almost no tannin, this fresh red is as delicious with a ripe tomato as it is with a powerful cheese. Cantina del Pino’s Dolcetto has significantly more depth and elegance than simpler expressions of this grape. On a hot summer day, a light chill never hurts this wonderful red!
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