charcuterie every day please!

Is there anything better than a big ole' charcuterie platter?? I mean, it's cheese, it's meat, it's bread/crackers, fruit, jams, chutneys, nuts...everything that dreams are built on! Put all those components together and you literally have the world. Plus it looks GREAT on any table and is the perfect grazing food for large crowds. I love them so much and I like making them even more. I think charcuterie boards should be well thought out and all the different flavors should compliment each other. To me, that's a mix of sweet, savory, tart and spicy. Never be afraid to test the bounds of your creativity! For the Halloween party this last weekend, I had a ton of fun putting together a board of goodies. Take a look at my haul!

So what makes an awesome charcuterie board? It's a mix of a few things that you will want to include.

Cheese: Choose at least 3 or 4 cheeses to offer a variety. Also try and have some hard and soft cheeses from mellow to sharp.  Cheeses are easiest served already sliced but you can also have them in wedges with cheese knives for some added interest on the board.

Meats: You want some variety here as well. I love using Italian cold cuts like spicy pepperoni and salami as well as prosciutto and ham. You can pile them on in small bundles around your board. If you know that you will have several vegetarians attending your event, you can keep them off to the size so that they are not touching the fruit and cheese.

Bread and Crackers: You want to have a few options here as well. Flat crackers and buttery flakey crackers are always great to pair with cheese. I love using some cheese straws and also toasted up bread as well. This is a great way to add some textures and drama to your board!

Fruit & Nuts: An easy way to make a board pop with both color and freshness is to have some fresh fruit. You can also add dried fruit as well. My favorite thing to add to boards in the way of nuts it to candy some like the almonds above (see recipe/method here from my salad recipe). Brown sugar glazed walnuts are also a delicious addition! As you plan out the fruit that you want to include, go with a variety of colors and choose ones that are easy for your guests to eat.

Vegetables: I love adding fresh vegetables to my boards for those guests that are looking for a healthier options. My favorite are mini sweet peppers, carrot and celery sticks along with fun options like roasted, crispy brussel sprouts...don't be afraid to add cooked/roasted vegetables to your board!

Olives and Dips: Adding small bowls filled with dips olives, jellies, mustards is a great way to add some added flavors to your board.

Really, your creativity is can go wild here. The trick is to pick a platter/board that is the right size for the crowd that you want to feed that you can fill to the brim. If you only have a small group, opt for a small platter or plate - when it looks like it's overflowing, it just looks so inviting to dig in. Lots of negative space looks pretty for fine dining plates but no one wants to be the one to dig into something that looks like it's about to run out!

I also personally like to label my cheeses (and/or meats) if I can so people know what they are eating. You can keep it pretty simple - for this platter, I simply cut out some black card stock and hot glued it to food picks and wrote the labels with a chalk pen. Easy peasy.

If you have several guests coming and/or want to space out the food so that people will utilize more of your space, break out the into smaller platters too. Scatter them throughout your home so that people can migrate to conversation nooks. How many times do you lay out all the food on the kitchen island and everyone just hovers around it the whole night. That's is perfectly fine but you want your guests to relax and sit and chat as well...this is a great way to get them to move around!

So I am going to add one more thing. For those of you that are following along on my journey with my RA and my new way of eating to see if I can take control of the inflammation in my know that I am currently eating only animal products. So as you can imagine, I can only eat very little on these delicious charcuterie boards. AFTER the party (because I am weird like that!), I decided to take things into my own hands and that no one should have to give up things that they love when we can always adapt. So for me and me alone (movie night for one!), I decided to go all out and create a Carnivore Charcuterie for myself! Behold this masterpiece!

Okay, it was a bit much for one BUT it was delicious! I mean, throw some steak bites, some crispy chicken skin and BACON WRAPPED CREAM CHEESE skewers in and holy YUM! I even made a parmesan cream dipping sauce for my steak because why wouldn't I??? For the crunch? Some pepperoni chips and parmesan crisps. All the things that you need for a good charcuterie board (minus the sweet component).

This paired perfectly with the new Netflix movie, The Holidate. Girly night for one!

For those that want to know, for the bacon wrapped cream cheese, just take cubes of cold cream cheese, wrap it in half a piece of bacon...stick a toothpick in it to hold it together. I then freeze them for a bit - about 20 minutes and then throw them in the air fryer (pre-heat at 400F for 5 minutes and then cook at 390F for around 6 minutes, flipping halfway).

For the pepperoni chips, just lay them out on a plate lined with a paper towel and microwave for about a minute (more or less depending on the thickness of your pepperoni and your microwave). Let cool until they are crisp.

For the parmesan crips, freshly grind parmesan in a food processor and put heaping tablespoons of it on a hot pan until they melt and flip. Cook until they are golden and carefully transfer them to a paper towel lined plate until they harden. Take care not to overcook them as they will taste bitter.

For the crispy chicken skin, I just cooked them simply with some salt in the air fryer (pre-heat at 400F for 5 minutes and then cook at 400F for around 8 to 10 minutes, flipping halfway until it is super crispy).

Happy Friday ya'll!



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