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Big variety without spending big money
You love the Pinterest charcuterie boards but the price of putting one together makes your wallet hurt? Maybe you want one but just for one or two people? Fear not my frugal reader, I’ve got you my friend!
How does a guy or gal on a budget put together the savory, smooth, crunchy and soft element of a charcuterie symphony so the experience doesn’t go flat? It’s not hard it just takes some thought.
- 2 kinds of cheese (3 if your budget allows)
- 2 types of cured meat in different sizes, small round, cube or rolled slices (Even pre-rolls of proscuitto and provolone will do)
- 1-3 types of marinated vegetables
- A sweet element like thick jam, chutney or dried fruit (My chunky grape jam recipe is delicious on a board)
- 2 types of bread, one crunchy, one soft
- If your budget allows add some nuts, single or mixed variety
Assemble on a large plate or cutting board that you have on hand. If you don’t have a board or boards these value lightweight bamboo boards in a set are nice because you can use the smaller ones for your bread component.
Low cost ingredients for charcuterie
You may not have noticed but many grocery stores have containers of 4-6 precut deli meats and cheeses already available to grab. I found a great one at Trader Joe’s for $10 but have seen them in Kroger, Lidl and Publix. You can even get a few things from an olive bar to get your board really tailored to your taste. Check both the dairy case and deli area to see where the store has them. No guessing on how much to buy because it’s already done for you.
If you find mushrooms or green beans on sale you can marinate them in italian dressing for a few days. Really customize it by adding some freshly zested lemon and orange, chili flake or fennel seeds so they can pick up the flavor during the marinade process. See what is already in your spice cabinet and get creative!
(To this set I added a $4 wedge of soft cheese)
Next you need a bread element. One or two that suits your taste. Maybe some grissini? Table water crackers? Homemade saltines are very simple and easy to make and are 3 steps up from store bought. I add rosemary and black pepper to mine. Ultimately you will need something with a crunch to offset the softness of the meats and cheeses.
I like to use a softer bread as well like individual focaccia or French rolls. You can even slice up a fresh baguette for $2 on the diagonal to look extra special.
Putting the charcuterie board together
Now that you have gathered your elements it’s time for the presentation to feed your eyes before you feed your belly!
If you have a tiny dish or two put your fruit and nut elements in them. Think of your board as a time clock. Start by artfully arranging your meats opposite of each other. One at 3 o’clock and one at 7 o’clock. Put something in the middle, I always put a dish of olives in the center of mine. Maybe mound some dried apricots there.
Next get the cheeses on there. One at noon, one at 5 o’clock. Then fill in the other spaces with your small bread item, dishes of fruit and nuts.
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That’s it! Easy peasy.
One year I did a pesto bread star and served it with the pre rolled meat and cheese along with wine and some olives.