Charcuterie boards first became popular in 15th century France and have been on 5-star menus and served at swanky shindigs for centuries. Thanks to social media, the concept of creating artistic food boards is trending. An authentic Charcuterie board is truly a work of art with a curated array of flavor profiles that is also visually appealing. These edible works of art are piled high with cured meats, cheese, crackers, fruit, nuts, and more, and when done right, they look effortless. Putting together a show-stopping charcuterie board worthy of a viral internet moment is simple but not easy.
Magnolia Milk Maids in Vicksburg, Mississippi, creates customized sweet and savory Charcuterie boards in all shapes and sizes. What started as a hobby has become a thriving Mississippi small business. Since I am still learning to master the craft of charcuterie, I went to the professionals to learn the basics. “The perfect charcuterie board needs to contain at least five elements,” says Lauren, co-founder of Magnolia Milk Maids. “Starting with cheese! Use at least three kinds of cheese, one being a domestic cheese that everyone is familiar with, like cheddar or Monterey. Add a savory element with salami, pepperoni, olives, and nuts. Walnuts pair well with various kinds of cheese. Provide a sweet bite from artisan chocolates, fresh local honey, or seasonal fruits. Add spice with spicy cheese, or spicy soppressata, to your favorite pepper jelly. An artisan bread or cracker gives something to scoop all of it up with!”
Leigh, a co-founder of Magnolia Milk Maids, has additional tips to get you started if you need further inspiration. “A delicious spread that will please everyone is as easy as going to your local grocery store. I recommend a combination of well-known and specialty meats and cheeses. Pair Pepper Jack with a BellaVitano Merlot soaked or an Aged Cheddar. Boar’s Head Pit Craft Turkey compliments Pepperoni and Salami, and it is a meat option most guests will enjoy,” said Leigh. “Fresh fruits and vegetables add color and crunch while citruses act as a palate cleanser, so include lemon wedges or orange slices. Vegetable dips or Roasted Pine Nut Hummus are always a crowd-pleaser.”
A charcuterie board offers an answer to “What can I bring?” to any party, especially a tailgating get-together. Pair your creativity and food favorites with Mississippi’s Charcuterie influencers’ advice, and you’ll have an aesthetically pleasing and delicious spread.
Bonus: Score a touchdown at the next tailgate with these red and blue, maroon and white, gold and black food pairing ideas.
Red: Cherry tomatoes, strawberries, apple slices, red grapes, red mini-bell peppers, red radishes, dried tart cherries, and cranberries. Don’t forget red jams and jellys served with soft cheeses and crackers.
Blue: Blue cheese, blueberries, black and purple grapes, figs, purple olives, and homemade white chocolate-covered pretzels using blue food coloring!
Maroon: Edam cheese! (not maroon, but nothing screams MSU like that red ball of delicious cheese!) Pepperoni, smoked sausage slices, or cocktail weenies. Go the extra mile and make roses out of pepperonis.
White: White cheddar, provolone, and cream cheese (for jams and jellies), Cauliflower, cashews, marshmallows, white chocolate pretzels, and simple white crackers.
Gold: Gold foods are hard to find, but you can get the effect with yellow-colored favorites. Sharp cheddars, monetary jack cheese, peaches, pineapple chunks, yellow- mini bell peppers, and corn tortillas.
Black: Blackberries, black grapes, figs, dark cherries, black olives, Oreos, and black jelly beans are fun. You can also make homemade white chocolate-covered pretzels using black food coloring.