Last year, Americans, out of necessity, learned a a bit more about outdoor entertaining. Turns out, we love it! This charcuterie board is the ultimate in easy, casual entertaining. It is flexible and easy to make your own with your favorite ingredients from your favorite local cheesemonger. It is perfect for indoor or outdoor gatherings. The size of this board may be intimidating for some, but it is really more assembling than cooking. This board serves eight if nothing else will be served--perfect for a cocktail hour, or up to sixteen if there will be a meal following drinks and appetizers. I call this "All American" because traditionally, charcuterie boards are French and Italian serve antipasti plates I prefer the melting pot approach and a finished platter that represents a diversity of offerings. The key to success is variation in texture, color, food pairings, and tastes--a little something for everyone. One of the best parts of making this board is shopping for the ingredients. No rules and a bit of American ingenuity in pairing fruits, nuts, olives, peppers, meats, cheeses, and sauces! I do try to add something I've never tried before every time I make one: some pole and line caught tuna, a local goat cheese, kumquats, quince, baby kiwi, a cured saucisson. Always include a few of your personal favorites. Mine include boucheron (hard to get over the creamy inner rind and chalky tangy interior), smoked mussels, nut free basil pesto
, jámon Ibèrico, and a can of salty Portuguese sardines
. Icy cold beer or a medium bodied red wine with bright acidity and berry notes are solid drink offerings for serving alongside the board. This recipe is more of a guide than an exact science. The quantities may be varied (it is always better to have too much than too little and most cheese and charcuterie will last up to two weeks in the refrigerator). An artisanally made platter
for serving makes an impressive difference and the addition of some garden blooms add a touch of unexpected but universally admired detail.