Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #WelcomeToIndiana #CollectiveBias
It seemed like such a fantastic idea at the time. I was hosting my first grown-up housewarming party, and it only seemed fitting that I serve sophisticated and beautiful cheese and charcuterie board, as all adults do. It was perfectly executed in my head. Standing at the cheese counter, surrounded by an array of cheese, I found myself overwhelmed and confused. Unlike picking up a pre-prepared tray or cooking a tried-and-true dish, there is no recipe for the perfect cheese and charcuterie board. Or is there?
A cheese and charcuterie board always sounds wonderful, but when it comes to creating one on your own it can be intimidating. What kind of cheese should I buy? How much should I buy? What pairs well together? Through trial and error, I’ve discovered a no-fail recipe for a cheese and charcuterie board. It’s easier to put together than you think and it fulfills the party trifecta: simple to make, looks stunning, and tastes out of this world.
In the past, following my recipe created a delicious board. Unfortunately it also created a hassle: finding all the ingredients to compose a cheese and charcuterie board meant driving to several different stores. But not anymore! A few weeks ago I attended the grand opening of a new kind of store in central Indiana. Market District, located at 11505 N. Illinois Street in Carmel, is more than a grocery store. It’s a food-lover’s destination shopping experience. There’s nothing else like it in Indiana. In the 120,000-square-foot store shoppers will find a fine-dining restaurant, a café, a full-service bakery, an extensive meat, seafood and produce department, and a grocery store with the traditional products and aisles.
What drew me in and blew me away, however, was the Cheese Shop. Containing more than 400 artisan, local and imported cheeses, over 100 varieties of deli meats and a tasty assortment of imported olives and antipasti, I’d finally found my one-stop shop for the perfect cheese and charcuterie board (and every other party need as well)! Even better, the Market District Cheese Shop is so very helpful when it comes to the intimidating task of selecting cheeses. Not only are they friendly and knowledgeable, but they are happy to let you sample cheeses and encourage you to try before you buy.
Here’s what you’ll need to build your very own cheese and charcuterie board:
- Platter or cutting board: I use a thick wooden cutting board. The goal here is to build your cheese and charcuterie board on something that provides a pretty backdrop as well as a sturdy surface to cut harder cheeses. Hefty platters (not your finest china) work well, as do marble, wood or slate boards.
- Small bowls and jars: For holding toothpicks and accompaniments
- Appropriately sized serving spoons and knives: If you don’t own a special set of cheese knives, don’t panic! You can make do (as I’ve done) with small forks, spreaders and knives.
Hard and Soft Cheeses (3 to 5 varieties)
I’m not sure where I first heard it, but when choosing cheeses I like to follow the formula “something old, something new, something goat, something blue.”
- Old: When selecting an old cheese (which tastes way better than it sounds!), think along the lines of something firm and possibly crumbly, with lots of flavor. Examples of such cheeses are cheddar, manchego or gouda.
- New: A new cheese is usually softer and hasn’t aged long. Some common new cheeses are mozzarella, burrata, and ricotta.
- Goat: Goat cheese is made from goat’s milk. Most people think of chèvre (soft goat cheese), but there are many other types as well.
- Blue: Blue cheese can range from mild to very strong. The blue comes from the cheese being inoculated with mold and allowed to age.
There are no real rules, though. If you hate goat cheese of any kind, skip it! The goal is to have a beautiful board that reflects your tastes. When estimating how much cheese to purchase, assume 4 oz of cheese per person.
Charcuterie (1 or 2 selections)
This is completely personal preference. I love all the cured meats! Common choices include salami, prosciutto, chorizo, paté or terrine.
Accompaniments (Choose bread and/or crackers, plus any others that strike your fancy)
- Bread and/or crackers
- Fruit (dried and/or fresh)
- Olives, pickles or other antipasti
- Fruit spread or jam
Putting It All Together
Think of your board as a clean canvas and arrange your selections like art. I like to place the cheese around the board and then fill in with the charcuterie and accompaniments. Trust me – there’s no right way to arrange your board! Cheese and charcuterie should be serves at room temperature. If you’re worried about the cheese drying out, you can lightly cover it with a damp cloth until serving.
As for details on this specific board I assembled, I opted for a local theme. I was so pleased by the availability of many unique and delicious local cheeses and charcuterie at Market District that I knew I wanted to build a board around those items. I used:
- Steckler Grassfed Bright Meadow Organic Chedder Cheese
- Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese Barren County Bleu
- Capriole Goat Cheese Wabash Cannonball
- Jacobs & Brichford Farmstead Cheese Everton
- Tulip Tree Creamery Trillium
- Smoking Goose Gin and Juice Salame
- Mixed olives from Market District Antipasti Bar
- Dried figs and black pepper cashews from Market District Bulk Foods
- Fig jam
- Market District Petite Toast
A cheese and charcuterie board is a fantastic addition to your own party or to bring as a dish to share. Serve the perfect cheese and charcuterie board that’s tailored to your own tastes and budget at your next gathering and watch everyone’s eyes light up and mouths water! Just follow this simple formula and fill in with one-stop shopping at Market District’s Cheese Shop. Need more inspiration? Check out the Market District website for more information on their products, articles and recipes.
In the meantime, I’d love to know: what’s one thing you’ll fight people for on a cheese and charcuterie board?