These days, with charcuterie boards commonplace in all concepts, chefs must have strategies to set themselves apart when creating their masterpieces. The goal is to be innovative yet not stray too far from who you are. Thus, the “meat and cheese” go-to can be so much more – even perked up with healthier choices, like veggies and fruit. It’s also trendy to bring out the boards to make brunch spreads memorable and less formal. Tim Maness, Shamrock Foods Chef/Business Review Specialist, offers tips.
- Mix hard salami with a sampling of a soft, creamy paté.
- Sausage, grilled and warm, often highlights other items just because of the different temperature and bite.
- Be careful not to use too many smoked items, as they can overpower the palate.
Use That Slicer
- Different regional/international cheeses are expected: Triple cream Brie, a stinky blue, aged cheddar – all complement each other.
- Why not spotlight local cheesemongers? Shamrock Foods offers a variety of local cheeses. In Colorado, for example, ask about Jumpin’ Good Goat Dairy and Mou Co, to name a couple.
- Cheese needs to breathe, so serve close to room temperature for maximum deliciousness.
- Slice meats cold to trap the fat; then serve closer to room temp. Most salamis indicate if you need to remove the casing before eating.
- Hams, prosciutto & other meats – as thin as possible to put less emphasis on salt and more on true flavor.
- Slicing on the bias gives good board coverage and an “artisan” appearance.
- Varying sizes and shapes can trick the culinary mind and give a higher perceived value; for example, with cheese, combine thin slices, cubes and shavings.
- The classic French baguette, fresh and warm or even grilled, is a great way to sample patés, sliced meats, soft cheese, etc. (Keep Brickfire Bakery® frozen loaves on hand.)
- Crackers work well when presented with a selection of tastes and textures.
- Missing a flavor profile? A drizzle of a nice olive or pistachio oil over bread or cheese can do wonders.
Garnishes Pull It Together
- Nuts provide richness and texture as well as a salt component.
- Spreads like Fig and Sour Cherry from FOODmatch are unique and flavorful.
- Pickle some veg in-house – e.g, okra, cukes, cauliflower, peppers – to bring the acid needed to break down some of the fats from meats and cheeses.
Depending on how rich items are, a good rule is 2-3 oz. per person. Nobody wants to continue prep at the table, so small bites are best.
Use a foodservice grade board with some type of sealer. Sanitizer can live in raw wood, leading to illness when concentrated. Melamine is an attractive substitute.
Knowledge is power – set the FOH staff up for success by teaching as much as possible about the products and points of difference.
Another idea: Create a separate, “Pick 3 of Each” check-off menu
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