How to Build a Beautiful Charcuterie Board

By Shayna Mace | Photography by Katie Ann Photography / Elevate Events

Pictured above, starting at top center:

  • This aged gouda, a nutty cheese, pairs really well with the coppa and fruit.
  • Nutkrack’s candied pecans are a nice contrast to the salty cheeses.
  • Boursin, a soft cheese, pairs wonderfully with peaches, says Starz.
  • A burrata cheese swirled with balsamic vinegar is tasty.
  • Starz likes to add roasted vegetables to boards in the winter and grilled veggies in summer.
  • Vermont Creamery’s Wild Blueberry, Lemon & Thyme Goat Cheese is mouthwatering.
  • Add a cheesy, crispy element with Trader Joe’s cheese cracker curls.
  • “Saint Andre has a really good triple crème Brie,” says Starz.
  • Spicy coppa, a type of Italian salami, has flavors of pepper, nutmeg and allspice.
  • Starz loves Potter’s Cracker Cranberry Hazelnut Crisps to munch on.
  • Grapefruit is a wonderful edible decoration on any charcuterie board.
  • “Grapes go so well with everything; you can find them year-round and they add color to your board,” says Starz.

MORE CHARCUTERIE BOARD FUN

“I’m a big foodie, and I think Wisconsin has such beautiful local ingredients to build incredible cheese and charcuterie boards,” says Chloe Starz, associate planner with Elevate Events.

In the past, Starz has taught charcuterie board workshops throughout southern Wisconsin, and is passionate about entertaining. “I think doing a cheese and charcuterie board is such a nice way for people to gather together and be able to share a meal and talk,” she says.

Here, she shares more tips on what to pick up for building your own board.

FOR THE FOUNDATION:

  • A food-safe board. Starz loves antique breadboards, which is what she used in the board on this page.
  • Ramekins and small dishes. You’ll use these to put jams, olives or other finger foods in, says Starz.
  • Garnishes. These can be edible or non-edible. On the previous page, Starz used grapefruit for one garnish and rosemary for the other. Fresh, seasonal fruit in general works, she says. She also likes using herbs like basil or sage. “They’re nice aromatics, and also provide a little greenery,” she says.

WHAT TO PUT ON THE BOARD

  • Cheese: Starz selects six cheeses for a large board, seen above. She likes a variation of different types and textures, so she uses hard and soft varieties, typically a seasonal choice — and then a favorite of hers. Two to three ounces of cheese per guest is a good barometer for appetizers.
  • Meats: Look for two or more meats to add as heartier fare on the board. Salami, prosciutto, sopressata or even pepperoni are good options.
  • Produce: Grapes are a perennial favorite because they’re a good palate-cleanser, are available year-round and add nice color. Mini kiwis and peaches are also Starz’s favorites. Beyond that, look for fruit that’s in-season. For vegetables, Starz will usually roast them in the winter, and grill them in the summer.
  • Accoutrements: Look for nuts, olives and pickled veggies to pepper in throughout the board as well as in your ramekins. The pickled veggies will “add a little hint of vinegar and a different taste,” says Starz.

WHERE TO SHOP

Madison has a plethora of great places to find specialty foods — which is ideal for building an extra-special charcuterie board. Starz says she loves Landmark Creamery in Paoli for cheese — and it’s also women-owned. For cheese, produce and meat, Brennan’s Market is another of Starz’s go-tos. Alimentari is great for cured meats, and the new Meat People shop is good stop for meats or snacks. Trader Joe’s has crackers and other fill-ins. Nutkrack’s storefront on Atwood Avenue is a must-stop for delicious candied or spiced pecans

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