Alabama Living Magazine

What is charcuterie?

“Charcuterie is a French term that refers to prepared meats, such as sausage, ham, bacon, and pâté. So-called charcuterie boards have become popular as appetizers or party snacks in the United States in recent years. Strictly speaking, these should contain only French meat products, but the term has broadened to include, in addition to assorted meats, a variety of cheeses, nuts, fruits, vegetables, breads, crackers, and even sauces.”

Charcuterie derives from the French phrase chair cuit, meaning “cooked meat.” It was originally confined to pork, for medieval guild regulations required charcuteries to sell only pork and pork fat. The term referred originally not to the meat itself but to the shops where it was sold, the venue of the charcutier, who prepared, cooked, and preserved cuts of pork and, on occasion, other foods, as during Lent when the observant ate cured fish rather than meat. (Definition courtesy

How are charcuterie served?

Charcuterie are typically served on wooden cutting boards of various sizes and shapes, although any platter will work. This part of the process can be fun  as you experiment with surfaces that work the best for your particular needs. For a simple charcuterie lunch or snack for 2-3 people, small rectangular or circular boards will work just fine. When planning for a large party or celebration, several larger boards may be needed. For a fun twist, roll out a large sheet of butcher paper covering the length of a table or island (as seen on the following page), then add your foods of choice in the same manner as using a board.

The basics:

Boards can have many different themes and styles, only limited by imagination of its creator. For most situations though, it’s helpful to begin with the basics. Begin with the accessories: anything being served in a smaller dish should be arranged on the board first. Lay out dips, jams, nuts, seeds, olives or pickles. Then begin filling in spaces with the larger items; meats, cheese, fruit and crackers, etc. Typical for most charcuterie are the selection of meats: salami, ham, pepperoni and proscuitto. A variety of hard or soft cheeses to pair with the meats is included as well and can include Brie, soft herbed cheese spreads, goat cheese, mozzarella slices or balls, Gouda, cheddar or other cubes and slices. Small pieces of fruit such as berries or sliced apple along with crackers, pretzels or other items complement your other selections. 

Bridal Shower Theme

“The diamond ring shape was created for a friend’s bridal shower. My husband assisted in the design and wood cutting, making the diamond and ring two separate pieces so I can also use the ring, without the diamond, as a Christmas wreath!”

  1. Make roses using large slices of pepperoni and salami (rose tutorials on YouTube) and place first.
  2. Place fruit and cheeses around each rose: pepper jack slices, Vermont white cheddar slices, smoked Gouda triangles and cheddar cubes.
  3. Add the small bowl of olives and the honey pot, decorating around those.
  4. Sliced ham (toothpicked into rolls), then the various salami shapes (salami chain, and salami folded in half.)
  5. Fill the extra spaces with small clusters of cheese and fruit so no gaps are visible.
  6. Rosemary sprigs and faux leaf branches for added greenery.
  7. “Diamond” made of cauliflower clusters and white cheddar cheese.

Robin Sellers, McCalla

Oversized Butcher Paper ‘Board’ 

Ingredients used: 

  • Fruits and veggies: raspberries, grapes, strawberries, blackberries, mini bell peppers, cucumbers, olives 
  • Crackers: soft pretzels, croissants, baguette, yogurt-dipped pretzels, breadsticks, oatcake crackers, crostini, cranberry hazelnut crackers, chocolate wafer cookies
  • Cheeses: muenster, cheddar, espresso cheese, cranberry goat cheese
  • Nuts: almonds, macadamia nuts, pistachios
  • Spreads: hummus, garlic mustard, garlic dip, chili fig spread, spiced cherry spread
  • Meats: soppresata, chorizo, calabrese, Genoa salami, peppered salami 

Racheal Amaradio, Macomb, MI

Locally Sourced 

The owner of a charcuterie business, Wood + Rosemary, Candice customizes each board based on a client’s likes and individual preferences. She says a variety of color and flavor are key and uses locally sourced ingredients as much as possible. She recommends using several cheeses that also pair well with chocolate or wine when serving at a party.

Candice Hightower, Coosa Valley EC

Italian Heritage

Ingredients used:

  • Cheeses: Blue cheese (with hot honey and slivered almonds), pecorino romano, goat cheese (rolled in pistachio nuts and dried cranberries), Irish cheddar
  • Meats: pepperoni, prosciutto di Parma, dried sausage and Genoa salami
  • Fruit/Berries: blackberries, mandarin oranges, blueberries
  • Additional: pretzel thins, cashews, black olives, pepperoncini peppers, sweet gherkins

Stacy Rack, Arab EC

Christmas Theme

Ingredients used: Red grape tomatoes for the garland around the tree, then quartered hard-boiled eggs for the star. Place a tea light in the center of the star. Next, add Kalamata pitted olives.  Then alternate rows of salami, mozzarella cheese, cucumbers, medley tomatoes (yellow), pepper jack cheese, green grapes, cheddar cheese, pepperoni and a large variety of sliced salami. The base of the tree is Pirouline chocolate hazelnut cookies. I added fresh rosemary from my garden to give it a “real tree” look.

Carol Miller, Dixie EC

Halloween Theme 

Ingredients used: Brie cheese round, two Boursin cheese rounds (garlic and herb and a fig and balsamic), cheese cubes, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, veggie chips (bats and ghost shapes), blue corn tortilla chips, salami and prosciutto.

My daughter, Madison (15) and I had so much fun making this char”boo”terie board for her hocus pocus-themed Halloween party. Her friends enjoyed this board, all kinds of snacks and watched the movie “Hocus Pocus”, of course! Madison used food gel to make the faces for Winifred, Mary and Sarah.

April Whetstone, Pioneer EC

The Buttered Home

Every great charcuterie board needs a main feature. We love Southern boards that are full of pickles, pickled okra, pimento cheese and, of course, peanuts and pecans. Since this snacking phenomenon has become so wildly popular, even in our own home, we always try to include something new AND delicious. This year, our main charcuterie feature has been this delicious Baked Blackberry and Pecan Brie Skillet. And let me tell you, between Halloween and New Year’s Eve, I made this delicious stuff five times! It IS that good! We hope you try it for your next charcuterie board and love it as much as we do! For more recipes like this, be sure to visit

Easy Baked Blackberry and Pecan Brie Skillet

  • 8 ounces brie cheese
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey, divided
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 4 ounces fresh blackberries
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the wheel of brie from the package.  Cut the top of the brie wheel with a sharp knife, taking care not to cut all the way through. Cut over the initial cuts to cross hatch the top of the brie cheese. 

Brush the scored side of the brie with ½ tablespoon of honey and place face down in your cast iron skillet. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until top is browned. Remove and set aside.

In the same skillet, add oil, remainder of honey, pecans, blackberries, salt, pepper and rosemary. Mix well to coat.

Once berry and nut mixture is combined, clear a space in the center of the skillet, place the brie, cut side up in the middle. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes until the recipe is bubbly and browned. Serve warm and enjoy!


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