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It’s time to whip out a wooden board and a spread of creamy brie and gourmet gouda cheese. But, if taking inspiration from Sandy Coughlin, it won’t be just a basic cheese and cracker charcuterie.
“The Big Board” blogger at the Reluctant Entertainer is plastered all over the Internet holding her larger-than-life, gorgeously arranged creations.
While she’s been blogging since 2006, Coughlin said her big moment came in 2017 when she “invited 12 national bloggers” to her home in San River, Oregon to make a now-viral “giant charcuterie board.”
She’s since become known for her big boards, with her “taco dinner board being the most popular.”
“I started with charcuterie and then ventured out into dinner and meal boards because it’s just super fun to take your family recipe and step up your presentation,” she said. “When you set a board on the table, people lean in and everyone feels comfortable gathering around it.”
Some of Coughlin’s favorite arrangements include her holiday best brunch board, epic summer mini pie board and summer lunch turkey sandwich board — which means that any meal or appetizer you’d throw on a plate can be amped up with a wooden centerpiece if Coughlin has anything to do with it.
But Coughlin insists not to overthink it when it comes to inspiration for a board.
“There’s no hard rule for making a board,” she said. “You can sometimes feel discouraged when you look at a beautiful board and feel like you have to go out and buy all this food; always start by looking in your kitchen pantry and seeing what you have that you can make into a piece of art and creating it the way you want.”
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Not to mention, the gigantic board she holds all over her blog, Pinterest and Instagram are from her very own collection, designed with J.K. Adams, an American-made company, to help create more jobs during the pandemic.
Coughlin, who authored the “Big Boards for Families” cookbook, took inspiration from her own techniques while designing the boards.
“The current ones are made of maple, with a lip around the outside so the food stays on the board,” she explains. “I’ve been to so many parties where there are boards spread out, kids come and then the food gets messy everywhere, so that was an important design element. They have undercut handles so they’re easy to pick up and are food-safe, too.”
Additionally, Coughlin shares which types of boards to buy and how to formulate unique board recipes within her new cookbook.
What should I put on a charcuterie board?
As mentioned, there’s no hard and fast rule when designing your board for family and friends. But, Coughlin shares her tried-and-true tips for beginner board makers and designers of the Instagram-worthy charcuterie alike.
“To make a basic, great board for four to six people, I recommend adding one or two cheeses (one soft — like a brie — and one like a blue cheese), salami, olives, nuts, seasonal fruit and Lesley Stowe crackers,” she said. “And, you want to put a sturdy cracker on your charcuterie because there’s nothing worse than a flimsy cracker you can’t spread cheese on.”
Plus, adding fresh, locally grown foods to a board is one of her favorite charcuterie hacks. “I love to add something local to a board because it makes it unique,” Coughlin adds. “If I travel and make a board, I go to the nearest grocery store and add food to make it more special.”
Coughlin has all of her “Big Board” recipes on her blog for you to browse, too.
While the never-before-seen Big Board is a classic, we rounded up some other charcuterie boards and essentials to shop below. With our collection of spreads, cheese knives and bowls, you’ll have everything you need to be a five-star entertainer.
1. Smirly Cheese Board and Knife Set, $36, original price: $40
As one of Amazon’s bestselling boards, Smirly’s comes with an average-sized board, storage for cheese knives and slots for pecans and other miniature smorgasbord picks.
2. Compact Swivel Cheese Board with Knives, $45 to $69
This was my go-to cheese board for my rolled-turkey Friendsgiving days in my college apartment, and I still swear by it. If you’re looking for a compact board, it’s top-tier (pun totally intended) and its space-saving storage is a bonus, too.
3. Frux Natural Bamboo Cheese Board and Knife Set, $40, original price: $45
Frux’s charcuterie board is made of rich bamboo, includes a platform for added dimension and even has a built-in compartment for storing cheese markers.
Perfect for a bagel-and-bacon brunch, this long-serving board slab is a basic centerpiece for hosting guests.
5. Walnut Cutting Board, $95
As one of our favorite cutting boards, this high-quality chopping block from Our Place doubles as a charcuterie board, too. Plus, the kitchen essential is from the same brand that brings the fan-favorite Always Pan we reviewed to your stovetop.
Charcuterie Board Accessories
1. Boska Copenhagen Mini Cheese Knife Set, $21, original price: $25
“We always set out cheese knives and my favorites are Boska’s,” Coughlin said. “They’re a great essential to pair with your board.”
“People always ask me how I keep the food hot, and the first thing I do is set the dishes down first,” she said. “For the taco board, I knew I was going to have big dishes for the lettuce, tomatoes, and toppings in the middle. I set the smaller bowls with the taco meat around it so I could heat them up if guests arrive later.”
Name a better duo than wine and cheese (truly, you can’t). These wine glasses have a classic design and come in a set of eight for entertaining.
For a little bit of everything — all in one — Patelai’s 20-piece set of spreaders, forks, knives, spoons and tongs is a must-buy. Plus, the pieces are versatile for entertaining beyond charcuterie boards.
There’s nothing worse for picky eaters than not knowing which cheese to spread on their round cracker. These chalkboard cheese markers add a pop of creativity to your wooden slab and clearly identify cheddar from provolone.
Charcuterie Board Foods
This six-pack cheese assortment is a one-stop-shop for delectable flavors: tomato basil, harvest vegetable, chipotle pepper, hot pepper, cheddar salami, and onion-garlic cheeses.
2. Wisconsin Cheese Company Deluxe Cheese and Crackers Set, $60, original price: $65
Clad with cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, pretzels, crackers and mustard, shop Wisconsin Cheese Company’s full charcuterie set for your next wine and cheese night.
With this nut variety pack of almonds, walnuts, honey-glazed peanuts, cashews, honey-glazed pecans, pistachios and mixed nuts, you’ll have everything you need to serve a rich medley on your charcuterie board.
Fine meats are always a good idea for a charcuterie board. And, even if you’re vegetarian, some of your guests may be meat lovers — so finocchio salami is a recommended food to shop for.
If you’re into aged cheeses and picks for your charcuterie board that are unique, Castello’s Aged Havarti Chunk offers a bold, creamy and caramel flavor. Plus, its crystalline texture makes it dynamite for your next event.
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