The ABCs of the Traditional French Charcuterie Board

The ABCs of the Traditional French Charcuterie Board

A traditional French charcuterie board boasts classic ingredients such as prosciutto and salami. Charcuterie boards are more than simply a random assortment of foods. Rather, they are an artistic statement. The ultimate product always looks delicious and appealing to the eyes.

Every culture uses a slightly different technique for preparing Charcuterie boards. This variation is often seen in the ingredients they choose to include. So, if you want to learn how to make a stunning traditional French-style Charcuterie board, keep reading to find out everything you need to know.

The Origins of the Traditional French Charcuterie Board
The term "charcuterie" comes from the French language, and it stems from the words "cuit" meaning cooked, and "chair" meaning flesh. Cured meat production extends back roughly six millennia to ancient Rome. During this era, charcuterie also referred to establishments that sold pig products.

Charcuterie arose from the idea that nothing from an animal should be wasted and that all organs, such as the brain, kidney, and heart, should be used. Cured meats and offal were two key classic components utilized by the French of the time to produce traditional French charcuterie boards.

However, as charcuterie boards have grown in popularity in the United States and elsewhere, there have been variations in the ingredients used to create them. You will notice a wide selection of charcuterie boards in restaurants worldwide. These boards have various ingredients, from cured meats and cheese to olives and sliced baguettes.

Ingredients to Include On a Traditional French Charcuterie Board
Here is a list of ingredients to include on a French charcuterie board to impress your French guests:

Include Diverse Meat Options 
Cured meats are the topmost important ingredient for a charcuterie board. The rule of thumb is to choose your meats and then choose other ingredients accordingly. Doing so helps you create a charcuterie board with ingredients complementing each other. Here are a few types of meat you could consider putting on your traditional French charcuterie board:

  • Nduja
  • Spanish Chorizo
  • Saucisson Sec
  • Prosciutto
  • Boudin
  • Rillettes
  • Genoa Salami
  • Mortadella
  • Sopressata
  • Jambon

You can roll up meats cut in slices, such as soppressata. This allows you to add textures and shapes to your charcuterie board while increasing its attractiveness.

French Cheese Board

Different Types of Cheese
Did you know France is home to a variety of around 1600 cheeses? So it's safe to say that youcare not short on options. The best way to ensure everyone enjoys the charcuterie board is no different add types of cheeses. Remember to ensure the cheeses pair well with the meat options you put on the board.

For example, if you are serving salami, you would want to include Gouda cheese. Salami and Gouda pair quite well together, and your guests will surely enjoy this divine combo. Moreover, pay attention to putting different consistencies, colors, and textures of cheeses on the charcuterie board.

Here are a few examples of cheeses with different hues, textures, and consistencies to help you choose:

  • Soft: Camembert, Brieburrata, Saint Andre, Stracchino, and Mascarpone.
  • Semi-soft: Muenster, Havarti, P’tit Basque, and Morbier.
  • Hard: Asiago, Comte, Parmesian, Mimolette.
  • Crumbly: Feta and Goat cheese.
  • Blue cheese: Roquefort, Marbled Blue Jack, and Gorgonzola.

Adding cheeses that differ in color, texture, and consistency to a charcuterie board adds variety. It also helps your charcuterie board stand out. Furthermore, if you plan on cutting the cheese yourself, try cutting it in different shapes and sizes. Try cutting the cheese into squares, triangles, and circles. If you feel creative, you can also experiment with creating unique shapes.
For example, for a Christmas party charcuterie board, you can cut the cheese into the shape of a Christmas tree. It may require a lot of effort. However, the result will be worth it. You can also purchase precut cheese from the store. Having a variety of shapes on the charcuterie board also enhances its appeal.

Assortment of Breads
Making a charcuterie board without any bread alternatives may give the impression that something is missing. Baguettes are a must if you make a charcuterie board with French cheeses. If you can't find baguettes, sourdough bread is a great replacement.

Furthermore, various bread alternatives aren't required, especially if you're serving the charcuterie board after dinner. You can serve different bread options if you're serving it as an afternoon snack. Otherwise, one bread option will do.

Don't Forget the Sweet Ingredients
The ingredients of a stellar charcuterie board are a lovely combination of salty and sweet flavors. Therefore having something sweet on your traditional French charcuterie board is a must. Fruits are the ideal sweet ingredient to add to a charcuterie board. You can choose from a variety of fruit options.

However, grapes and apple slices seem to be a favorite among charcuterie board makers. Sweet, dry fruit options like raisins also make a great sweet ingredient for a charcuterie board. If you have individuals with a sweet on your guest list, a modest serving of honey or jam would be a hit.

After The Sweet Comes the Salty
So as mentioned above, a charcuterie board is incomplete without salty options. Apart from the salty cheese, you also want to incorporate nuts like salted peanuts or cashews. You can also add options like radishes or jalapenos chilies for a fiery kick. Make sure to incorporate salty options that go well with other ingredients on the charcuterie board.

Top It Off With Some Accent Ingredients
Accent ingredients usually refer to condiments that complement other ingredients. Some examples are extra virgin olive oil,  mustard, salted butter, or anything else that fits the description.

Traditional French Charcuterie Board Recipe

If you have never made a traditional French charcuterie board, here is a recipe you can try. This dish includes delicious ingredients like Saint-André cheese, salami, and French bread. Whether you make it for an intimate family dinner or a large gathering, this one will win youcompliments.

What You Will Need

  • Morbier
  • Comté
  • P'tit Basque
  • Saint-André
  • Feta
  • Mimolette
  • Roquefort
  • Camembert 
  • Chévre


  • Soppressata
  • Rillettes
    - (One 225 grams of lean pork (one-inch cubes)
    - One 1/4 tsp. salt
    - 3/4 tsp. ground black pepper
    - One bay leaf (dried)
    - 226 grams duck legs
    - 3/4 water
    - 340 grams of pork fatback
    - One 1/2 tsp. chopped thyme


  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Radishes
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Grapes


  • Honey
  • Almonds
  • Salt
  • French butter
  • Cornichons


  • French bread

To make this French charcuterie board, start by arranging all five ingredient categories in numerical order.

Prepare the Cheese
1. First, you want to start with the cheeses. If you have bought precut cheeses, then all you have to do is take them out of their wrappers. Next, assemble the cheeses on your charcuterie board in an appealing manner.
2. If you have cheese blocks, you want to cut the cheeses into bite-sized options. Try to make different shapes like squares, circles, or triangles.

Prepare the Meats
1. Now, you want to move on to the meats. For this charcuterie board, we will prepare soppressata and rillettes.
2. To prepare soppressata. Take the soppressata out of its packing.
3. Next, heat a skillet and place your soppressata on it. Cook your soppressata slices for at least two minutes. Tur each side every few seconds to cook evenly. In the end, you want your soppressata slices to be golden brown.
4. To cook the rillettes, preheat your oven to 325 F.
5. Next, mix all your ingredients on a baking sheet and cover them with foil.
6. Let the rillettes cook in the oven for at least three hours.
7. The meat should become extremely soft as it cooks.
8. Moreover, it is a must to keep checking in between for signs of dryness. Add more water if you notice the meat drying during the cooking process.
9. Once the meat cooks, allow it to cool down.
10. Next, remove the lid and discard any duck bones.
11. Now comes the fun part. Shred the meat to form a soft consistency.
12. Once all meats are prepared, we can prepare the produce.

Prepare the Produce
1. You want to cut all the produce into attractive bite-sized pieces.
2. Cut the apples last to prevent them from browning. Make sure all pieces are evenly cut to avoid the board from looking messy.

Prepare the Condiments
1. Next, take out all the condiments. Set the almonds tastefully on one corner of your charcuterie board.
2. Take a small deep bowl of honey and place it between the almonds.
3. Once you have assembled the condiments, the last step is to cut the bread.

Prepare the Bread
1. Lastly, you want to take a serrated knife to cut even slices for the bread. Cut the bread into small triangular pieces.
2. Finally, your charcuterie board is ready. Serve fresh, and enjoy!

Wine Pairings for a Traditional French Charcuterie Board
Now that your traditional French charcuterie board is ready, what drink will you serve to go with it?

Most people prefer serving wine with a charcuterie board in France and worldwide. However, you can't just serve any wine with a charcuterie board. As mentioned above, the art of nailing a charcuterie board is to ensure all ingredients go well together. Wine is one of these ingredients.

Therefore, your wine should complement the ingredients on your charcuterie board. If you don't want to put a lot of thought into selecting the wine, Cremant, or Champagne, make the safest option. These wines go well with everything and anything. So they are a safe option.

French Wine Glasses with Charcuterie

Wines to Pair with Different Cheeses
It can sometimes be challenging to determine which wines go well with which kinds of cheeses. If you make the wrong selection, you risk ruining the entire charcuterie board experience. So you want to research before selecting a wine to pair with your charcuterie board.

For hard cheese, you want to consider that these cheeses tend to have a stronger taste. Therefore, a wine option like a red Bordeaux fit quite well with such cheeses. Strong tastes in this wine go well with the occasionally strong and sometimes funky flavors of the cheese.

Additionally, this wine's intense acidity aids your body in digesting the high-fat content of the cheese. While the cheeses salty and fatty components assist the wine's tannins to be more tolerable.

The result is a flavor that is incredibly delicious, rich, and fruity. These cheeses are also excellent when served with Rhone red wines. Provence red or Languedoc are other affordable options for those on a budget.

As for the soft cheeses, you would want to stick to acidic and citrusy wines. The acid in the high-acid wines helps your body digest the fat. In addition, it also cleanses the taste buds, preparing your tongue to indulge in the flavors from the next bite. This makes them a perfect match for fatty and creamy foods like soft cheeses.

Bottom Line
So now that you know everything there is to know about a traditional French charcuterie board and how to make one, what are you waiting for? It's time to take out your charcuterie board and experiment with different mixes of ingredients to see what you like.

CharcuterieCharcuterie boardFrenchFrench charcuterie

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