Tired of Trying to Make Perfect Charcuterie Boards? Here's the Easy Fix.
Let's be honest, cheese and charcuterie boards have never been more popular—we're even having "boards for dinner" now. There is even a terrific new book by Elle Simone Scott for America's Test Kitchen called BOARDS: Stylish Spreads for Casual Gatherings, to help the home spread out their game.
But what if your skills for arranging meats and cheeses are less artistic than some, or if you don't have a spare hour to make festive salami roses? Here is where I implore you to take the less is more approach. Because the only thing that can rival a gorgeous landscape of savories, is one giant statement product with some accoutrements: In other words, make your party all about one big, fabulous piece of meat.
Meats (and cheese) big enough to be the sole attraction
Leg of prosciutto
My husband and I host a large party annually and the highlight is a whole leg of prosciutto on a stand with a knife, some napkins, and a basket of sliced bread for guests to serve themselves. If we are feeling particularly fancy, we might add a jar of balsamic mustard or some fig jam, but really, the ham is the star. It has as much if not more impact than a fussy display of 12 varieties of cured pig, and everyone loves the interactive nature of the display—often, guests with particularly good knife skills will stand and slice for friends.
Salami or mortadella
Don't want to go in for a whole leg? Try a large whole 2–3-pound salami or chunk of mortadella. If you have either bread or crackers as a base, and maybe a condiment or bowl of pickles to compliment, your setup is simple, and the snacks still feel epic!
The same is true of a large-format wheel or wedge of cheese. A whole wheel of Stilton with crackers, walnuts, and dates is a showstopper, as is a large wedge of aged Parmigiano Reggiano, maybe served with chunks of focaccia, and a bottle of syrupy old balsamic or a vin cotto to drizzle on top. An oversized whole Brie can be served with dried fruit and baguettes, and there is nothing wrong with a massive chunk of nutty Swiss with some honey mustard and cocktail rye.
Want to take the same principle even further? Buy a large 2–5-pound brick of premium dark chocolate and serve with a Parmesan knife for breaking off chunks, and some small, sweet brioche buns or oat crackers, a bowl of marcona almonds and some whole clementine tangerines or strawberries for an interactive dessert that will take moments to set up, and your guests will talk about for weeks.