Whether hosting a sit-down dinner or having a few friends over for drinks, having a Cheese and Charcuterie Board ready when your guests arrive is a quick, no-cook way to get the party started. The key is to have a good selection of cheeses, meats, and accompaniments so your guests can try a little bit of everything, and perhaps, even discover a new cheese or cured meat.
The dizzying array of great cheeses and charcuterie available can be overwhelming, so I’ve assembled a few tips to narrow the choices and make this somewhat daunting task easier.
Selecting the Cheese and Charcuterie
Include a variety of flavors and textures.
• Assemble a Cheese and Charcuterie Board that has a balance of flavors, textures, colors, and shapes as well as visual appeal.
• Vary your cheese selection by picking cheeses made from different types of milk (cow, goat, sheep) and from the four basic categories of cheese: aged, soft, firm, and veined.
Aged: Cheddar, Gouda
Soft: Camembert, Ripened Brie, Brillat-Savarin
Firm: Manchego, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Provolone
Veined: Stilton, Gorgonzola, Maytag
• Limit your selection to 3 to 5 cheeses.
• Serve at least one familiar cheese to ensure that your guests will find something they recognize as well as something they’ll be eager to try.
• Serve a mix of cured meats and sausages. For more variety and texture, add a pate, terrine, or rillettes.
- Cured meats: prosciutto, coppa, speck
- Cured sausage: chorizo, soppressata, finochietto
Ask the cheesemonger for suggestions when purchasing cheese at a cheese or deli counter. Don’t hesitate to ask for samples before you make your selections.
How Much to Serve?
Guests will eat as much as you put on the board. For an appetizer course before a full dinner, 2 ounces of cheese and 3 to 4 piece of meat per person should be enough to stimulate the appetite while saving room for later courses. For a cocktail party where the Cheese and Charcuterie Board is the main food, plan on about 5 to 6 ounces of cheese and 3 to 4 ounces of meat per person.
• Accompaniments and garnishes should complement and enhance the cheeses and meats.
Fruits: dried apricots and figs, slices of apples and pears, grapes, fresh figs, nectarines and melons (especially good paired with prosciutto)
Nuts: marcona almonds, pistachios, candied walnuts or pecans
Fruit Pastes, Honey, and Jams: quince, pear, and cherry pastes, honeycomb, and chutneys
Spreads and Other Condiments: pesto, olive tapenade, stone ground mustard, roasted peppers, artichoke hearts, caperberries
• Include something acidic like cornichons or olives that would cut through the richness of the meats.
• Place sweet garnishes like dried fruits or honey next to salty cheeses and cornichons and other acidic accompaniments next to the meats.
• Slices of crusty bread and assortment of crackers, flatbreads, and breadsticks add a contrasting texture. Avoid strongly-flavored items to highlight the flavor of the cheese.
• Cheeses are at their optimum flavor at room temperature so arrange them on the board between 30 to 60 minutes
before guests arrive. Meats may be arranged about 15 minutes beforehand.
• Your Cheese and Charcuterie Board makes a great centerpiece. Use decorative platters, marble or slate slabs for your display, or perhaps, you can make your own like Karin did with her DIY Cutting Board.
• To avoid mixing the cheeses, use separate knives for each.
• Label cheeses and meats so guests know what they’re eating.
• Have plenty of small plates and cocktail napkins on hand.
• Encourage your guests to pair cheeses with different meats and accompaniments
Manchego El Trigal Cheese (firm)
Country of Origin: Spain; Milk Type: Pasteurized Sheep; Aged: 12 months
Description: rich, sharp, nutty
Chorizo, Marcona Almonds, Roasted Peppers, Fresh Figs, Sliced Baguette
La Tur Cheese (soft)
Country of Origin: Italy; Milk Type: Pasteurized Mixture of Cow, Goat, and Sheep;
Aged: 3-5 weeks; Description: dense, creamy, runny, earthy
Prosciutto, Honeycomb, Pistachios, Nectarines, Cornichons, Fresh Figs, Bread Sticks
Pt. Reyes Blue Cheese (veined)
Country of Origin: USA; Milk Type: Raw Cow; Aged: 6 months;
Description: tangy, rich
Soppressata, Pistachios, Sliced Apples, Dried Apricots, Fig Jam, Whole Wheat Crackers
Cabot Clothbound Cheddar (aged)
Country of Origin: USA; Milk Type: Pasteurized Cow; Aged: 10 to 15 months;
Description: sweet, tangy, caramel, nutty
Prosciutto-Wrapped Nectarines, Pistachios, Dried Apricots, Pear Fruit Paste, Crackers
See more on: http://daisysworld.net/