Any party, movie night, or fancy dinner is more fun with a charcuterie board—and no charcuterie board is complete without crackers. Moonshot is a big fan of charcuterie boards, and we’re here to teach you how to build the perfect board for any occasion.
What is a Charcuterie Board?
A charcuterie board is a culinary experience that allows diners to mix and match a collection of complementary ingredients. Charcuterie boards are served on a cutting board or platter, and they’re assembled using fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, meats and cheeses, grains, jams, and really anything your heart desires.
A charcuterie board can be an appetizer at a dinner party, or the main course at a picnic. In recent years, there’s been a rise in the popularity of breakfast and dessert charcuterie boards that use sweeter ingredients in place of traditional savory flavors. The possibilities are endless! Charcuterie boards present an opportunity for creativity and exciting flavor combinations, and you can easily match it to your dietary needs. It’s a treat for the eyes, mouth, and soul to share this communal dining experience with friends and family.
We’ll walk through some important factors to consider when creating a charcuterie board at home!
The Origins of Charcuterie Boards
As you might’ve guessed by the name, charcuterie boards most recently originated in France, although many cultures have created similar spreads throughout history all the way back to Ancient Rome.
By the 1400s, France had taken charcuterie into its own hands. Although charcuterie now refers to a collection of different foods, it originally referred exclusively to the art of preparing cured meat products. In France, local food production was strictly regulated, including the cured meat created by charcutiers. Similar to practices used by the Ancient Romans, French meat was cured in salt and other preserves like smoke or vinegar so that it lasts longer than fresh meat. This cured meat was less expensive than fresh meat, and it became common fare for the lower classes in Europe. Over time, the term charcuterie board has evolved to encompass the diverse, colorful spreads we encounter today.
Common Food Pairings
Charcuterie boards are all about the balance of flavors and textures. That’s why you’ll want to pair soft cheeses and chewy meats on your charcuterie board with crunchy bread and crackers, like Moonshot’s Sourdough Sea Salt crackers. Let the flavors and ingredients on your board be your guide.
Charcuterie boards are most commonly used as an appetizer for dinner parties and get-togethers with friends, but there’s a world of possibilities for this versatile dish. Charcuterie boards can be easily adapted to fit any dietary needs and any occasion.
Charcuterie boards are a lovely dinner for smaller groups using a well-rounded collection of meats, cheeses, and vegetables. They can also be used for breakfast or brunch, replacing breads with waffles and filling the board with bacon, eggs, pastries, and fresh fruit.
If you want to indulge your sweet tooth, dessert charcuterie boards are a festive crowd-pleaser with candies, chocolate, fruits, and cookies.
What Foods Go Best On The Board?
Because charcuterie boards are so versatile, you can’t go wrong when it’s time to make your own. Here are a few common ingredients you’ll want for a traditional charcuterie board.
Charcuterie boards originated as a new way to serve cured meat, but don’t feel obligated to include meat if you don’t eat it yourself. Remember, charcuterie is all about the balance of flavors. If you choose to add meat, consider the meats that will pair best with the cheeses and crackers included on your board.
When it comes to picking meat for your charcuterie board, cured and salted sausages are a classic. You’ll want at least one thinly sliced meat, as well. Tinned fish, another traditional preserved food that’s been growing in popularity, is a great option if you follow a pescatarian diet.
There are so many different types of cheeses, it can be difficult to know where to start. You’ll want to make sure that your cheeses pair well with the meats you’ve picked for your board and the board’s overall theme. A mix of hard and soft cheeses will ensure you have a good fit for everyone and that there are plenty of different flavor combinations to be enjoyed.
In addition to bread, you’ll want to make sure you have the right crackers for your charcuterie board—like the Sourdough Sea Salt, Rosemary Garlic, and Tomato Basil crackers you’ll find here at Moonshot. Include a variety, such as crackers with lighter flavors and crackers with bolder flavors like fig or tomato, so that each spread and cheese can be paired with complementary flavors.
Fruits are an excellent addition to any charcuterie board. They add sweetness and acidity balancing the salty, savory flavors of cured meats and sharp cheeses. The fruits can be fresh, dried, or preserved as jam. Depending on the season, you could include berries, stone fruits, grapes, apples, pears, and citrus fruits. There’s room to be creative with flavors and colors, too, by including fruits like persimmons, figs, and kumquats.
Don’t forget about your savory fruits like olives and tomatoes — there’s a wealth of olive varieties to choose from based on your palate, and cherry tomatoes are a nice bite-sized addition!
No charcuterie board is complete without vegetables. Like fruit, the vegetables can be served fresh, cooked in marinades and dips, or pickled to add little extra tang. Try roasted red peppers, marinated artichokes, or even a spinach dip!
The Best Beverage Pairings
The charcuterie board experience doesn’t end with food. It’s important to pair the right drinks to balance and complement the flavors, including the following:
When it comes to pairing wine with your charcuterie board, it’s all about balancing flavors. Look at the foods you’ve chosen and carefully pair your wines with the tastes on your board. Gruyere pairs wonderfully with a chardonnay, while goat cheese is perfectly complemented by a sauvignon blanc. Red meats and red wines are a match made in heaven, but if you get a little adventurous and incorporate shrimp or sushi, white wine is the way to go. There are no absolute rules, but it’s best to avoid wines with extreme flavors to keep your wine from overwhelming the flavors on the plate.
Champagne or sparkling wine can add a little something extra to the dining experience. Sparkling wines are lighter and have as many pairing options as still wines, but they offer a celebratory twist. Everyone loves bubbles! 🥂🍾
How To Make A Climate-Friendly Charcuterie Board
There are many ways to enjoy a rich and delicious charcuterie board while reducing the carbon footprint through the foods you pick and the ways they’re prepared. Here are a few things you’ll want to consider when it comes to planet-positive eating.
Shop Organic Foods
Organic foods are produced without the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. When you purchase organic food, you can help protect your body from harmful chemicals while supporting organic farmers. Same thing goes for your wine selection!
Buy Earth-Friendly Animal Products
While a plant-based lifestyle is the most climate-friendly option, not everyone wants to give up meat cold turkey. 🦃
Agriculture and farming contribute to a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, but there are ways to consume animal products while still supporting a climate-friendly future. Search for climate-friendly produced animal products made by ethical suppliers with local, grass-fed livestock. This helps reduce antibiotic use in feed and shows the food industry that consumers care about climate-friendly farming. When you’re selecting cured meats, keep an eye out for “Certified Humane” or “Animal Welfare Approved” certifications!
Keep the Planet in Mind
There are many ways to consider the planet when creating a charcuterie board—or any type of meal, for that matter. Explore plant-based alternatives to traditional ingredients like cheese, source your produce from local farms, and buy climate-friendly products like Moonshot’s crackers made with regeneratively grown ingredients. It’s important to look at where your ingredients are coming from and what goes into producing them, so you can support companies with values that you believe in.
A charcuterie board is a delicious way to share a special moment with friends. They are incredibly versatile, and you can create boards that support your diet and lifestyle while delivering the tastes you love. Explore ingredients like breads and crackers, fruits and vegetables, nuts, legumes, spreads, and more. How you choose to make your brunch, dinner, or dessert charcuterie is up to you!
You can make your charcuterie boards climate-friendly with the help of the team here at Moonshot. Explore plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy products, source meat from ethical farmers, and purchase organic, locally grown fruits and vegetables. Share a healthy, delicious treat with friends today, while supporting the earth, air, and water for tomorrow. 😋