This post is sponsored by Water Grows.
Last night I had a blast participating in a virtual event all about charcuterie boards highlighting Texas-grown foods and farmers who make it all possible. It was an event in collaboration with Water Grows, led by Celebrity Chef, Eddie Jackson and charcuterie artist Dana Anthony with Occasionally Board.
I made a Christmas Charcuterie Board that is going to make everyone skip the dinner and feast on these snacks! It’s basically Christmas on a plate – with meats, cheese, fruit and even candy canes and popcorn.
In the French tradition, charcuterie means the art of preparing and assembling cured meats and meat products but these days charcuterie boards are essentially a platter made up of cured meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, nuts, spreads, dips, and crackers.
You can easily build a well rounded Christmas charcuterie board for an appetizer, hosting holiday parties, gatherings, or for a date night. There are no hard and fast rules for building a charcuterie board but a gorgeous charcuterie board is balanced with various flavors, colors and textures—salty, sweet, sour, soft, and crunchy.
Pick a theme/color for your Christmas charcuterie board:
Pick a platter/wooden cutting board, or a flat surface to build a charcuterie board. For the Christmas theme, go with red, green, or golden - colors that speak Christmas to you. I used a cranberry wreath as the center of the board with some greens around for a festive vibe. You can also do a rosemary wreath or sporadically add peppermint candy canes around the board like I did here. You can also use a Christmas-themed table cloth or gift wrapper to set a Christmas charcuterie board.
Reminder: if you have a large/heavy board, I’d recommend building your charcuterie board where you plan to serve so there is no need for carrying/transporting the board.
Before you go shopping, always shop your pantry/refrigerator first.
Pick seasonal & local ingredients:
The best part about building a charcuterie board is the endless variations when it comes to ingredients. For a Christmas charcuterie board, keep your ingredients local and seasonal when possible. On my Christmas charcuterie board - I recommend including the following:
Cheese: Select 2-3 different cheeses ranging from hard, soft and spreadable cheeses, roughly 2 oz per cheese per person. Some of my favorite Texas made cheese includes cheddar cheese from Veldhuizen Cheese, smoked gouda from Brazos Valley Cheese, and au naturel chevre from Haute Goat Creamery.
Slice and cut cheeses into cubes/small wedges so it’s easy for guests to pick out. I used my cookie cutter to make different shapes like a Christmas tree, candy cane, and a star.
Cured Meats: You can use already sliced meats such as salami, prosciutto, jerky, pepperoni from the grocery store or ask the deli-counter to slice the meat to ensure the most high-quality product. Just like cheese, I’d plan for 2 oz per meat per person.
Crackers, bread: Pick crackers that are sturdy and large enough surface for cheeses, meat, and condiments . I like to have 2-3 different types of crackers, bread sticks, or flavored crackers such as rosemary and raisins as they are the building block for your Christmas charcuterie board.
Seasonal and local fruits: In December, pears, apples, and pomegranate are in season! Additionally, dried fruits, such as apricots, dates, figs and cranberries are a welcome addition to the Christmas charcuterie board. I love dates stuffed with goat cheese and pumpkin seeds for a quick bite that is both sweet and salty!
Reminder: Add sliced fruits such as apples & pears at the very end so they will not turn brown when exposed to air. Rinse the fruits with water to help slow down the oxidation.
Garnishes & Serving: The final garnishing adds a pop of color, filling up empty spaces, and adding so much flavor to the board.
Popcorn is vastly underutilized on a charcuterie board. You can get store bought popcorn or easily make it at home and season it to your liking.
Roasted nuts like peanuts, walnuts, cashews, and pecans are perfect for snacking and easy to grab. My favorite is honey roasted or lightly salted peanuts. PS. Texas is the fourth largest peanut growing state in the nation and we are the only state to grow all four varieties and organic peanuts!
Pretzels dipped in melted chocolate-mint and sprinkled with red or green sanding sugar is another easy way to add color, sweetness, and crunch to your Christmas charcuterie board.
Spreads like cranberry chutney or date preserve compliments the cheese and crackers really well. Think about warm, spicy spreads, jam/jelly. Mustard, honey, olives, gherkins, and tapenade are popular components to the board. Be sure to use a small dish/bowl with a spoon for the spread.
For pops of color, finish off the charcuterie board with sprigs of fresh like rosemary and thyme.
Serve the charcuterie board at room temperature and leave it out for no more than 2 hours to prevent food spoilage
Be sure to leave cheese knives or toothpicks, small plates and cocktail napkins next to the charcuterie board for guests to self-serve