The Two Foods Alex Guarnaschelli Has To Have On A Charcuterie Board

In last night's episode of "Spring Baking Championship" Season 8, contestants were tasked with making charcuterie board-style dessert platters, featuring spring-themed sweets ahead of the Easter holiday. To engage viewers before the episode's premiere, Food Network's Twitter account asked social media users what foods are absolutely necessary for a proper charcuterie platter. The question got responses from all over, including from one of the channel's stars: Alex Guarnaschelli simply stated, "Spicy salami and grainy mustard."

For those who need more guidance on how to build the perfect charcuterie board, that answer might be too simple. Fortunately, Guarnaschelli gave a more concrete description of her ideal appetizer platter to the Fisher Nuts blog in 2018. Her preferred spicy cured meat is Italian soppressata, though she wouldn't say no to smoked ham paired with Brie or salty prosciutto spread with fig jam, either. When it comes to mustard, though, her tune remains unchanged; "I always put out a small pot of grainy mustard and a little bowl of honey for drizzling," she said.

Guarnaschelli's other tips for charcuterie success

A lot of the time, celebrity chefs' tips are geared toward cut-and-dry, technical recipes, such as Gordon Ramsay's scrambled eggs. Those who appreciate more go-with-the-flow, recipe-free cooking, however, may find inspiration in Guarnaschelli's highly adaptable charcuterie advice. According to the "Alex vs. America" star, it's all about having fun with flavor pairings.

She brainstormed to Fisher Nuts about supplementing the cheeses on your charcuterie board with other tastes and textures. If your cheeses are sweet or mild, she says, add olives for saltiness. For a chewy element, set out raisins or dried apricots, and be sure to offer something fresh, like sliced apples or crunchy carrots. To her, the key is building layers of flavor, which you can do with your own spin. When showing off her charcuterie board on Facebook in 2020, Guarnaschelli concluded, "Use whatever cheese, condiments & fruits you like!" In short, don't be scared by the ever-growing craze for boards of sliced meats, cheeses, and nibbles. Throw what you want on it — because there isn't a set recipe.