How to make the best charcuterie board? Montana has several good places for you to get meats, cheeses, spreads and other items for your edible work of art. It's all about what YOU like to snack on - good bread and crackers turn snacks into a gourmet grazable meal.

Charcuterie: "The products of a fancy pork butcher." Sounds good to me. Long before I learned the word, my family grazed on charcuterie boards a couple of times per week and they were a crucial component of any road trip.

photo: Maven's Market, Bozeman, MT
photo: Maven's Market, Bozeman, MT

SEE BELOW FOR THE 5 ELEMENTS YOU NEED ON YOUR CHARCUTERIE BOARD! (and check out the "charcuterie toast," courtesy of Maven's Market in Bozeman.)

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I was one of few kids who actually liked weird olives and most varieties of pâté. The great thing about charcuterie boards these days is that you can put just about any snack you like on those things and it's long as it's yummy.

Where can I buy great stuff for my charcuterie board? You've got excellent options around Montana. Specialty stores offer the best of the best in meats and cheeses, and our grocery stores often have a very decent selection of domestic and imported goodies for your tray.

Grocery stores across Montana have REALLY stepped up their game in recent years regarding their specialty meat and cheese offerings. All the large towns have good specialty sections in their stores, along with delis and high-end shops that are always happy to help you build a great charcuterie board.

MAVEN'S MARKET in Bozeman is a fantastic resource for charcuterie awesomeness. (720 West Main Street, Bozeman) Not only is it easy to find and locally owned, but they know their stuff and really want to help you snack with class.

Meats, cheeses, spreads and snacks can be as basic or fancy as you like. EAT WHAT YOU LOVE! There's no wrong way to build a charcuterie board, really. But here are some guidelines...

  1. Cured Meats: There are two basic types—whole muscle meats and salamis. My advice is to buy what you can afford. There's nothing wrong with a pouch of salami, but stepping it up a notch to truffle and fennel infused salamis is fun. Prosciutto di Parma and Jamon are a must if they're in your budget.
  2. CHEESE! A good rule of thumb is to use 3 different kinds of cheese, but buy whatever you like. A soft cheese, a yellow cheese and a white cheese. That gives you a lot of runway. Keep it basic or try a goat cheese gouda.
  3. Something salty: olives, nuts or cornichons are a great option to cut some of the fat in the other items. Black, green, Kalamata, stuffed, whatever. Almonds come in all flavors, both salty and sweet.
  4. Something sweet: This can be something like honey or a sweet spread, or even candied nuts. Fruit such as melon and grapes are a great option.
  5. Crunchy - Crackers and/or bread: I'm a big fan of having both, and lots of them. A crusty, sourdough baguette will always be found in a basket on my snack table. There's now a vast universe of fancy crackers that I've come to love. (Very thin, crispy rustic options are my favorite but again...always buy what YOU like.) Pretzels are also a good choice, as many varieties are "dippable."
Photo by Anto Meneghini on Unsplash
Photo by Anto Meneghini on Unsplash

If Belgrade shopping is more convenient for you, Chalet Market is a gem for charcuterie items. This small store packs a big punch and carries many Montana Made products too. They're very knowledgeable and always helpful when I have questions. Small building, big treats.

Another thought, having a big enough BOARD to serve a big group is fun to make. Size sometimes matters and a normal cutting board won't cut it. I've made several on my own just by painting and sealing inexpensive pieces of scrap wood. IMPORTANT: That sort of things need to be sealed with food grade clear coat.

photo: Maven's Market, Bozeman, MT
photo: Maven's Market, Bozeman, MT

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