We are thrilled that charcuterie boards are trendy again. Bold meats, creamy cheeses, and little toasts with smooth spreads from all around the world just make us swoon. All this, set on a beautiful board setting the tablescape vibe. Honestly, the charcuterie board is the hero of the party and deserves all the love and respect it's getting nowadays.
If you are new to charcuterie boards or you have one but just need a little help with how to really SHOW OUT you've come to the right place!
Before we get started, let us preface this by saying we understand that charcuterie traditionally refers to cold-cooked meats. But this is Urban Hostess. We have to modernize and elevate! So a lot of things we will showcase during this series will be far from that. But delicatessen all the same. We have so much charcuterie board knowledge we couldn't limit ourselves to just a plain wood board with meat and cheese! So here we go…
Part 1: The Board
Surprisingly, you can get a charcuterie board in a few types of materials. Although they can essentially be interchanged, there are a few differences that will help you decide what works best for you and your events.
Wood is the traditional material base used for the majority of the boards out there. Wooden charcuterie boards aren't just for a rustic look, however. They are also functional.
Wooden boards are softer and more malleable so they are gentler on cutlery if your charcuterie consists of things needing to be cut a lot. Wood is porous and absorbent which works well for controlling charcuterie that may be a little wet or liquidly like a dollop of spreads or creamy white cheeses. Wood can also absorb heat pretty well. Making them good for handling hot things or keeping warmer charcuterie warm longer than let's say metal or stone. If you recall from our Cinco de Mayo cheese board, we used our wood board to hold a Queso flameado in a cast-iron skillet and milky slices of Queso Panela at the other end.
For more on that board click the link here.~>
But this versatility comes at a price… Remember how we mentioned these types of boards are soft and easy on cutlery? This also means they can get cut and splinter if not taken care of properly. Being absorbent means they can stain just as easily. This means nastiness like mold and bacteria can stay in the board if not cleaned well enough. All this adds up to a higher level of maintenance compared to some other materials. We will talk more in-depth about how to care for wood boards later in the series. And depending on the size and shape, wooden boards can be quite pricey too.
Before you scroll on to the next, We know the sound of “plastic” is off-putting and cheap. By plastics, we are referring to the broader category of hard polymers such as acrylic. But we couldn't label this section “Polycarbonates and Polypropylenes” could we?...
Although plastic charcuterie boards are deemed cheap, that doesn't mean they are worthless. Yes, they are a lot cheaper than wood or stone, but these boards can be softer than wooden boards yet way more durable. Meaning easy on your utensils and easy to maintain. Most of them you can throw straight into the dishwasher! Hard plastics aren't as absorbent so there is no need to worry too much about staining or the spread of bacteria. As most of it will stay on the surface and be washed right off. The fun thing about plastic boards is that they can be made quickly with a 3D printer and customized in any shape or color!
Their durability matched with being lightweight and thin makes these types of boards easy to store, easy to care for, and easy to replace if broken. Now depending on the type, and hardness of the material you choose for your plastic board, hot stuff is off-limits. And rarely are those skinny handles much use. So we reserve our plastic boards for smaller charcuterie presentations.
We are going to put metal and stone boards together. Mainly because they have very similar attributes as well as similar inadequacies. Metal and stone boards are often overlooked as most, especially granite, can get rather pricey. But the Elegance of a stone board is undeniable. And the look of a silver-plated charcuterie is unmatched when doing a vintage tablescape. When people think of stone they automatically think of plain granite. But we’ve seen some gorgeous pink quartz boards and stunning composite gold boards. These boards are simply gorgeous in every way.
Unlike wood which absorbs heat, metal and stone disperse it. Meaning they keep cold things cold longer. Making them great for cold charcuteries such as cold cuts boards or seafood boards. But our favorite reason to break out one of these boards is to make dessert boards!
Now, opposite of wood and plastic boards, metal and stone are obviously too hard for cutlery. We advise pre-cutting, easily
breakable, or individual charcuterie pieces f
or these types of boards. They are also rather
heavy compared to plastic or wood of the same size, not something you’d want to try and carry in. So again, these boards are best done and set ahead of time. Depending on the stone or metal, these types of boards will show scratches, chips, and nicks. Making them not the best for traveling
Regardless of all that, we still love a dramatic dark slate board with bright-colored cheese on top!
Now, these are just the main three boards. There are plenty of others we could mention. From giant rimmed boards for large parties when you need to hold everything together. Wicker boards that are lightweight and great for when you have to walk to a location like a picnic in the park. To floating boards for poolside charcuterie. These days, however, there is no need to settle on one medium. There are mixed medium boards like our wood board with a slate insert or this half plastic epoxy board and half wood!
The world is your oyster! So go out, get you a board or two and get to hosting!
Stay tuned as we dive deeper into the world of charcutier.