Ho ho ho! Throughout the festive season, whenever we have family and friends over for lunch or dinner, I usually make a few different starters. This year, with more people and kids around, I wanted to make something a bit easier with little to no prep at all - my Christmas Charcuterie! This is perfect for grazing as a starter on Christmas Day, while Jingle Bells in playing in the background and the champagne bottles are popping.
Charcuterie is actually a French term for a branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products, such as ham, terrines, pâtés and confit, primarily from pork. Over time, a charcuterie has been enjoyed over large style platters with fresh bread, pickles, spreads, cheese, fruit, fresh vegetables, citrus and sweets. We actually created our own charcuterie boards at our wedding, and they were a huge hit. So this year, I decided to recreate them again, but make it a bigger, better version. And with a big ol' Christmas theme.
Now, there is actually a little bit of finesse to make both a delicious, and beautifully looking, charcuterie board. This might sound crazy to some, but you want to make sure the entire surface is abundant with delicious food. Basically, you don't want to see any gaps to the wooden board underneath. Additionally, while there is guide to placing food onto your board, the layout doesn't have to be overly considered - the more rustic the better.
Ok, lets get started!
- Large natural wooden board. We purchased a piece of natural premium plywood from Bunnings for under $20 (a cheaper alternative to wooden chopping boards if you don't already have one).
- Cheese knives and/or butter knives.
- If you would like to serve up dips, a few small bowls are perfect.
- Cheese - How many people you will be catering for will determine how much cheese you'll need. Don't worry too much about this. I'd say, if you've got 10 people coming over, 3 different cheeses would be perfect. The platter we made was for about 20 people, so it was big! We had a mix of blue, cheddar, goats, brie, ash and truffle. I also like to add fresh honey (and honeycomb) onto cheddar. I think cheddar can be a bit boring, so this really takes it to another level. When I choose the cheese, I also like to make sure there are different colours, shapes and textures.
- Fresh bread - I am a fan of having freshly sliced bread on a charcuterie board. Don't go for the normal baguette, choose a sourdough or ciabatta with olives for flavour and colour. We got ours from Coles.
- Crackers - Choose a mix of different crackers, cheese twists and biscuits, with different flavours, textures and shapes. You should need about 3 to 4 different packets for serving 10 people. We also added slightly sweet almond crispbread as well.
- Dips - There are no dips on this charcuterie board (as I don't think it needed it) but if you want to include dips, have at least 2 per 10 people. Make sure you choose dips on flavour and colour, like feta and basil (green), beetroot (pink), capsicum (red). No hummus here! Try something different.
- Christmas - This is a Christmas Charcuterie after all, so it would be remiss of us if we didn't add some Christmas treats as well! Christmas pudding, gingerbread men, Christmas tree shortbread and mince pies are perfect. And let's not forget cherries! Such an quintessential summer fruit and so synonymous with Christmas.
- Meat - You have to have an assortment of meat on your charcuterie, so this time we opted for a really good quality salami. You can also add prosciutto and bresaola if you'd like.
- Fruit - You can add lots of colour to your charcuterie with fresh and dried fruit, such as cherries, strawberries, grapes, peaches, grapefruit, fresh figs, passionfruit, blueberries, and dried apricots.
- Nuts - Macadamias and almond nuts are my favourite to serve on this!
- Chocolates - You can't serve a charcuterie board without chocolate, IMHO. Instead of breaking up a block of chocolate, I like to add Mint Slice as it's offers a sweet yet fresh flavour to the charcuterie board. But you can choose any type of chocolate you like.
- Paté/Paste - I love paté and quince paste, so I think it's good to add these onto a charcuterie as they go so well with cheese!
- Edible Flowers - If you want your charcuterie to be a bit extra, edible flowers are perfect. You can normally find them at IGA, but we have an amazing fruit shop at Tewantin that sells them and I just love them!
A little side note, we got all of our cheese, crackers, meat, fruit, nuts and chocolate from Aldi a couple of days before serving. It's a lot more cost effective than getting everything from IGA, Woolworths or Coles. You also have to make sure you've got plenty of room in your fridge! Thankfully we have a big one in our garage too, but it's definitely something you need to be mindful of.
We've actually created a little Instagram Video Reel to show you how we created our Christmas Charcuterie, so make sure you check it out here! Here are the steps:
- Layout your cheese so it's spaced out organically over the board. Lay them flat or on their sides, and at different angles over the board.
- Add freshly sliced bread on either ends of your chopping board, in a flat layer (refer to vide).
- Add small towers, swirls and rows of different crackers, twists and crisp bread close to your blocks of cheese.
- Place your Christmas treats (pudding, gingerbread men, Christmas tree shortbread and mince pies) in gaps on the board. Don't think too much about this, but also make sure you don't have likeminded treats in sections too close to each other.
- Scrunch up your pieces of salami/meats and spread them out into sections evenly throughout the board. I like to place the meats next to a piece of cheese.
- Start filling in the gaps with fresh fruit, dried fruit and nuts. Don't place fruit like strawberries and blueberries, as well as nuts, around the edge because they'll fall off the board easily. Instead place the dried fruit around the edges so it creates a bit of a barrier.
- Fill in any leftover gas with your chocolate biscuits and paté, or quince paste. I like to put these on the edges as they don't slip off as easily as fresh fruit (like blueberries) and nuts.
- Place your edible blooms all over the board, and sprinkle petals over a couple of the cheeses. This is now the time to pour honey over your cheddar, and place some of the honeycomb on top.
To serve, put the Christmas Charcuterie in the middle of your table and for festive flair, place Christmas lights around it the board and any other Christmas trimming, decorations and ornaments. And as always, enjoy!