The best thing to come from the Covid-19 Pandemic has been the transition to appreciating artisanal foods. I feel like the extra time spent in our homes emphasized the importance of eating things we like, and what’s better than eating food you assemble yourself? Whether it’s making whipped coffee, rosemary focaccia bread, or your own charcuterie board, I believe many of us can say we have developed a newfound love for the culinary arts.
That being said– Over the course of the pandemic, my closest friends and I have perfected the craft of making the best cheese and meat boards of our lives. If there’s an event to celebrate, I can assure you that there will be an assortment of brie and crackers in your company. If you’re looking to build one for yourself and don’t know where to start, look no further! I can guarantee that this board is broke-college-student friendly (and sadly not sponsored by Trader Joe’s).
Disclaimer: I am a vegetarian, thus this article might be a little biased, but I have asked my meat eater friends to help. Let’s begin!
Crackers are the most crucial foundation of your board. You can quite literally use any crackers of your liking, I just recommend that you stay away from your basic grocery store crackers like saltines and go for a classic “cracker assortment” if you can. The stronger the cracker– the more things you can spread on it!
I have found that the best crackers you can get are the Trader Joe’s Pita Bread crackers. That one is our favorite for soft cheeses. Coming in second, is the famous Trader Joe’s Raisin Rosemary Crisps. Those are perfect for mixing with fruit preserves.
This one is a little tricky. There are so many cheeses to choose from, so where do we start? The best thing to do is to have a ton of variety, that way everyone can pick something they like. We personally use a lot of Gouda, Goat cheese, Brie, and Sharp Cheddar. Reminder- stay away from sliced cheese. The fun comes from using a cheese knife.
Our cheese must-haves are the Trader Joe’s Chevre Fine Herbs goat cheese and Traditional French Brie.
My best tip would be baking the brie at 350 degrees for 6 minutes. You can experiment with drizzling honey on it!
I have been told that it does not count as a “charcuterie board” if you do not include meat. As a non-meat eater, I was kind of offended by this remark, but it’s true. If you’re like me– I can assure you that you will still get the full experience without it!
And if you do eat meat, I have been told that the Columbus Dry Salami slices are delicious.
To spice up this portion of the board, try making a salami rose!
Do you know that scene in Ratatouille where Remy takes a bite of a strawberry and a little cube of cheese, making colorful fireworks explode to show his euphoria? That’s how I feel when I do the same thing. I believe a simple array of cut up strawberries, apples or pears would do well with these cheeses. Just try to cut them as thinly as possible.
To balance out the salty of the board, we like to include a fruit spread of our liking.
I believe a classic fig spread does the best job, but any will do.
This one is optional, but if you really like pickles–don’t skip out on this one!
Cornichons are essentially mini cucumbers that are tiny enough to be picked up by an olive fork. They work perfectly in charcuterie boards and have been a recent staple in our boards. I believe Trader Joe’s offers their own brand of Cornichons, but any brand will do just fine.
I believe this concludes my guide to making the best charcuterie board of your life. As you continue to build them and figure out what you like/dislike, you’ll see how fun customizing and assembling the board can be. Sometimes it’s fun to throw in something different like chocolate covered pretzels, nuts, and dips are. Have fun with it!