Are you looking to elevate your snack game? Maybe the quest to serve your guests the very best is what gets you out of bed in the morning. If either of those are the journey you’re on, the road will always lead to charcuterie. Even if you aren’t all that interested in trying it, you’ve probably still been curious what the term meant when you saw it on a menu.

If you have seen it on the menus of your favorite restaurants, you might have noticed things seemed a little different from place to place. That’s not you misremembering, that’s just part of what makes charcuterie so magical. 

Like many culinary favorites it’s more of an idea, opposed to being an exact recipe. Looking to learn a little more? Here’s the scoop and you need to know about charcuterie. 

What Is It?

As mentioned, it’s more of an idea than an exact recipe to follow. For those who don’t really know what it is though, that’s not nearly enough information. To no surprise, the word “charcuterie” is French in origin and can be translated to roughly mean “products from a butcher.” 

While the literal definition is, of course, not incorrect, the cultural definition means something a little more specific than that. Of course getting a couple hamburgers from the butcher will be delicious, but that doesn’t quite fall under the umbrella of charcuterie. 

In the simplest terms, imagine that wooden board with meats and cheeses, and if you aren’t familiar with the name that image probably still triggers a memory or two.

What’s In It?

A charcuterie board is known for its variation above all else, so there’s not one set list of ingredients that you’ll find. When it comes to meats, consider classics like ham and salami as staples. 

Typically, cheeses will be paired right alongside and the type of cheese will depend on what meats are present, but common options range from simple American cheese to the more pungent blue cheese. 

It’s always going to be more than just meat and cheese on the board. There’s also typically going to be different kinds of bread, and fruits like apples or grapes to balance out the flavors of the meats and cheese.

How To Make Your Own

As simple as it sounds, think about what you like and build around that. Like mentioned earlier, what makes up a charcuterie board is whatever fits with the other pairings already offered. If you don’t love a particular meat that’s typically found there, don’t include it. If you only want fresh fruits, think about what’s in season and not what is most commonly found on charcuterie boards

To not feel overwhelmed, start at the meat you like most and go from there. Don’t think about your favorite cheeses, think about which ones are going to pair best with that particular meat. 

In many cases, what cheese pairs best and what’s your favorite might even be the same thing. Don’t be afraid to make it your own either, if you love having pepper jelly dip with everything you eat, make a part of this too. Remember that it’s yours to create, so enjoy it.