In Good Taste

Appears in the April 2020 issue of Augusta Magazine.

How many times has the following happened to you? You’re relaxing at home or busy with errands when you find out last minute that you’re having company over to watch the game or the golf tournament. While I have a few go-to recipes that are easy to whip up for these instances, one of my favorite ways to put out an impressive spread at the last minute is with a beautifully appointed charcuterie board.

The best part? All of the components can be purchased in one trip to The Fresh Market on Washington Rd. I’m including a few recipes in case you want to take your spread to the next level!

While the term “charcuterie” refers to the cured meats usually found on a board, the focal point for me is the cheese, so let’s start there! Depending on the size of the board I’m using, I’ll usually go for 2-4 different types of cheese with varying textures. On this board, I’ve used two soft cheeses (plain goat cheese and Humboldt fog), a semi-hard cheese (Barely Buzzed, a white cheddar rubbed with espresso and lavender), and a hard cheese (6-month aged gouda).

For the charcuterie, I usually pick up 2-3 different types of cured meat. My go-to options are salami, Prosciutto, and capicola. I usually cut the pieces in half and fold or roll into shapes that are closer to the size of the cracker I’m providing.

When it comes to crackers, I like to have a variety of options ranging from a classic cracker like a Club or water cracker to some special variations, like breadsticks or multigrain crackers.

I always want a few pickled and brined options on my board. Here, I’ve used blue cheese-stuffed olives, homemade pickled okra, and sweety drop peppers from the olive bar.

Condiments are a nice addition to a charcuterie board, and they can be sweet or savory. My all-time favorite is fig preserves. I also like to use honey or a fun variation like raw honey or honeycomb. Finally, a whole-grain mustard is always a good choice.

It’s always nice to have a couple different types of nuts available. I spring for Marcona almonds every once in a while, which are softer and sweeter than your typical almond. Being Georgia-grown, I always include pecans. Candied pecans bring another sweet element and are simple to make!

Fill in the space with fresh fruit, like grapes or blood oranges, dried fruit, like apricots, and any fun specialty item I come across, like these dried green beans sold at the Fresh Market.

If you have the time, I recommend making a quick and easy appetizer to accompany your board, like bacon-wrapped crackers or my favorite Vidalia Onion Dip.