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A Student’s Guide to an A+ Charcuterie Board

By Danielle Jaquez

Charcuterie boards, also known as fancy cheese plates, have become the latest trend on social media. Chances are you’ve seen one pop up on your Instagram or TikTok feed and gasped at how irresistible it looked. You may also have gasped at the price of one on the menu of a trendy restaurant.

Building your own board may seem like a daunting task, but it’s pretty simple. Tusk breaks down the process into three easy steps with professional tips from Orange County native Lauren Edwards, owner of Lover Boards OC, an Instagram charcuterie shop.

If you need some board inspiration, Edwards said her favorite charcuterie Instagram accounts to follow are Silverlake Socialite, That Cheese Plate, and Modern Brie.

Step One: The Base

If you’re just starting out with charcuterie, investing in a high-quality cheese board might not seem particularly appealing, especially after dropping thousands of dollars in tuition money. Instead, work with what you have, and after some trial and error, you’ll find your go-to pieces.

If you are a charcuterie newbie and need some training wheels for your first board, a classic cookie sheet is the way to go. Not only is it accessible, but it also has bumper rails to keep all your ingredients in their own lane.

If you want to be extra fancy, try out a slate cheese board. These darker, modern boards will give your creation a sophisticated vibe. This one from Target will make your charcuterie look expensive as hell, and will only cost you $4.99.

Step Two: The Goods

Now onto the exciting stuff — the ingredients.

Edwards said she recommends shopping at Trader Joe’s for the best deals on quality charcuterie ingredients. Below is a breakdown of the best meats, cheeses, and snacks to add to your shopping list.

For a vegan option, check out: https://www.emilieeats.com/epic-vegan-charcuterie-board/.

Cheeses

For a small to medium-sized board, Edwards recommends using three kinds of cheese, preferably of different textures to add variety to your board.

Her top picks include Trader Joe’s Unexpected Cheddar and Triple Cream Brie and a package of Boursin Garlic & Fine Herbs. Trader Joe’s even has pre-cut cheese samplers such as the Spanish Cheese Tapas Sampler if you are feeling extra lazy!
Meats

Edwards’ rule of thumb for having a balanced charcuterie board is about 2 oz of meat per person. Some classic options include prosciutto, salami, and capocollo.
Carbs

Now that you have your tasty meats and cheeses, they need a vehicle to travel on, and that’s where the carbs come in. For a mild option that works with almost any cheese, grab Trader Joe’s pita crackers or a classic french baguette.

For something a little more intriguing, Trader Joe’s carries a line of crisps that come in unique flavors such as fig & olive, raisin rosemary, and pumpkin cranberry.
Extras

The difference between an average board and a spectacular one lies in the added ingredients. Some options include grapes, olives, tapenades, honey, and fruit jams.

However, Edwards said charcuterie chefs should try out unique ingredients even if they seem a little odd, such as Trader Joe’s truffle marcona almonds or hot & sweet pepper jelly. Who knows? Those ingredients could be exactly what it takes to take your board to the next level.

Step Three: The Build
The last step to creating an Instagram-worthy charcuterie is arranging all your ingredients on the board.

Start with the larger components (cheeses, meats, and crackers) and work your way to the smaller things (fruits, nuts, and condiments). The key is to fill the board completely, so use the smaller components to fill in gaps on your board.

Next, take your masterpiece to the next level by garnishing your board with herbs such as rosemary and basil, edible flowers, or dried orange slices for added color and depth.

To learn some more advanced techniques such as folding your meats into flowers and creating salami rivers, check out this Tasty video.

With that, you are all finished. Admire your board, take way too many pictures, and sit back with a glass of wine.

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