a collaboration by Natashia Nunez and Angie Dee
The Charcuterie Board has become increasingly popular in recent years. It’s typical to find them on restaurant menus and wine bars across the country. It’s a favorite for social gatherings as it’s filling, goes well with alcohol, and is fairly easy to put together.
There are currently over two million posts on Instagram with the hashtag charcuterie, not to mention all images of colorful charcuterie boards and a plethora of accounts dedicated to what is often referred to as ‘adult lunchables.’
Created as a way to preserve meat, (particularly pork) and in an effort to use up all parts of an animal, the practice of charcuterie originated in Rome and became an established trade in France by the year 1500. The word charcuterie is derived from the phrase “chair cuite” which means “cooked flesh.”
While meat and cheese platters are not a new thing in American culture, foodies and social media chefs have taken this French tradition to an entirely different level, turning it into edible art. Moving beyond the classic salt cured meat and fancy cheese tray into edible artforms that include salami rosettes, dessert boards, breakfast charcuterie and more.
To learn more about the art of modern charcuterie we reached out to our resident chef Angie Dee, founder of The Moon Plate charcuterie and “grazing boards,” to give us some insider tips on how to create a crowd pleasing board for the holidays.
Where were you when you had your first charcuterie experience?
I made my first charcuterie before I had my first charcuterie. I had seen different wine bars and vineyards offer it but I never felt fancy enough to buy one. The first time I made one was 4 years ago for a video and now I cringe when I see it (link below).
I had leftovers from thanksgiving and I used some ham for the board. Added some cheap cheese and posted it on YouTube. That video to date is my most watched at 68k views.
What made you want to start Moonplate?
I started The Moon Plate after one of my best friends sent me a link and said that I would be great at making these boards. I checked it out, found out my costs and started making them for friends.
My friends started sharing them on their Instagram and then I got more customers.
I love being able to use art and food at the same time. I get a lot of inspiration from people that have done it for years but I also add my own elements. I now market it more as a grazing board since charcuterie is traditionally mostly meats.
Why did you choose charcuterie as your focus?
I enjoyed the idea that you can use it as a celebration for birthdays, anniversaries or even funerals. I’ve done a board for a funeral. Each one is designed with the customer in mind.
By adding different ingredients each time I can make it super festive by adding lots of color, making it more neutral colors for a funeral, or even adding spooky elements for my popular Halloween board.
The combination of flavors you can make with cheese is incredible. Still my favorite combo for fall is Brie with pumpkin butter on a graham cracker. It tastes like a creamy pumpkin cheesecake.
Do you pronounce charcuterie the American way or the French way?
I pronounce it the American way but most of my customers just end up calling it a cheeseboard.
What are the basics of putting together a great charcuterie board?
I think a good charcuterie should have at least three cheeses and two meats. A soft cheese such as a goat, Mozzarella, Brie or even a spreadable cheese like Boursin.
Hard cheese like an Ibérico or Gouda is where I like to be a bit more adventurous and I like to try new things.
I like to add cheddar to all my boards in case my customers do not like new flavors at least they have a familiar taste.
With meats, you can’t go wrong with a dry salami or prosciutto to wrap around some of the stronger, sharper cheeses like Parmesan or blue cheese.
What’s your favorite charcuterie pairing?
When I make a board for myself I always include Brie, dry salami, honey with a cranberry cracker. Olives are a must and I also include blueberries and nuts.
That’s all you really need, everything else I add to other boards is just to make other flavor combinations.
If you live in the Inland Empire Angie is currently taking pre-orders for the holidays. Feel free to check out her Instagram page @themoonplate.
If you want to take a stab at putting together your own board, I’ve made it easy for you to get all your items in one place, at Trader Joe’s of Course! I’ve put together some of my favorite combinations to get you started…but I’ll leave the salami rosette tutorials up to you.