One look at Brooklyn-based Sarah McLellan Mee’s Instagram shows she has some serious culinary chops – just head on over to @sarahmclellanny to see for yourself. (Fair warning: If you’re at all hungry, grab a snack first.)
And despite Sarah’s far-reaching expertise, a specialty has quickly risen to the top. The Broadway-dancer-turned-food-writer choreographs the perfect dance between savory and sweet and crunchy and creamy to create charcuterie boards (and charcuterie covered tables … yes, tables!) that guests linger around until the last bite. Her cleverly named company Charc Bites offers full-service charcuterie creations for events, parties and date nights – and has already prepared boards for brands including Todd Snyder and The Knot.
So, if you’ve found yourself tired of cooking another meal, or you are just looking to switch things up in the kitchen, you’re in luck. Sarah is revealing a simple step-by-step to mastering your own charcuterie creations using our European Charcuterie Board.
I always start my Charc Bites creations with what I like to call the Map o’ Cheese! I lay out all of my cheese in different formations across the surface and this gives me a guideline for the rest of the design. I then add grapes, a centered jar of jam (I love fig preserves) and bowls for dips. This gives you a great sense of spatial awareness and a roadmap for the rest of the ingredients.
I then add some of my crudités nearby the bowls where the dips will be. I love to use multi-colored rainbow carrots, baby tomatoes and crisp snap peas.
I lay down some fresh dill as foliage underneath the ingredients to come. I love seeing hints of green poking out or as a base with items on top. I scatter groups of mixed olives, sun-dried tomatoes and sweet + not overly spicy peppadew peppers across the board, leaving space for more items. I am always trying to cue to a mixed-use of colors and textures — so don’t add like-colors side by side for example.
I add a variety of cured meats like soppressata, capicola, and prosciutto in lines and groups on the board. For the prosciutto, I like to wrap and curl the meat so it almost resembles a rose or flower. For the others, I like to fold into triangles and stack back to back for uniformity.
For my final steps. I add the dips to their bowls. To brighten up regular hummus, I sprinkle with turmeric, flaky salt and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. I then add fresh chopped dill to the top of creamy tzatziki. I like to use a variety of crackers including something gluten-free like a seasoned rice cracker. I also love the look of crunchy cheesy breadsticks scattered on top. I add some final garnishes like sprigs of rosemary, zig-zag cut kiwis, and a few blackberries or raspberries scattered across the board for pops of color.
MORE CHARCUTERIE & CHEESE BOARD TIPS FROM SARAH
What are some of your favorite unexpected items to include?
On my large grazing tables, I love adding honeycomb next to or near a soft cheese like brie. I have also added fresh pomegranates, apricots and other fruits which I think add a fun and festive touch to the overall look of the platter or table.
What are your favorite garnishes?
I love scattering fresh berries, sprigs of rosemary or small bunches of dill, and finishing up with kiwi or citrus fruits cut in half with a zig-zag pattern.
What are some of your tricks to getting such a beautiful presentation?
My main goal is to try to cover the board or table as much as possible so the guests are looking at what I think of as an edible work of art. There are lots of different colors, patterns, textures, and a variety of ingredients for them to feast their eyes on.
What makes a signature Charc Bites board?
I think it’s the design. They are super vibrant, with lots of different items for guests to drool over. And I think making them Instagrammable has certainly helped too!