Master the charcuterie board

1. Take creative license.

Don't feel wedded to tradition or flavors you don't like. Instead, mix and match your favorite snacks even if they aren't traditional charcuterie fare (if you're a big fan of white bean dip or guacamole, add it in alongside the salami and cheese). And, if you're inspired to go thematic, consider building your board around a specific cuisine like a Middle Eastern mezze spread or a seasonal selection complete with farmer's market produce.

2. Use an array of different vessels.

Separate accoutrements like mustards and honeys into small individual ramekins or bowls. Also, if you're including olives or other items with seeds, stems, or pits, be sure to have a place to put them. 

3. Embrace texture.

Having a variety of textures is essential. If you're serving cheese, offer at least one soft variety and one hard. For charcuterie, use an array of nitrate- free meats like soft, thinly sliced ham alongside more toothsome salami. Serve bread and crackers, and crisp vegetables or fruits (think apple and carrots) alongside softer ones (like grapes and figs). Try not to place ingredients with a high water content (like fruits) near crisp ones (like crackers) or they may turn soggy. 

4. Mix sweet and savory

Though an entertaining board is primarily a savory endeavor, don't be afraid to incorporate sweet accents like fresh fruit, honeys, and jams.

5. Use color

A spectrum of hues will make for an even more enticing board. Use a variety of colored ingredients or stick to one palette for a monochromatic interpretation.

6. Consider location

People will gather around hors d'oeuvres. If you want company as you put the final touches on your meal, set the board out in the kitchen for guests to sample while you cook. Be sure to have it separate from a bar area to avoid overcrowding, or set up a few smaller, satellite boards.

The classic

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The vegan

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The high performer

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Photography by Robert Bredvad. Food and Prop Styling by Maeve Sheridan.