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Searching for a crowd pleasing appetizer? Look no further than the meat and cheese board! Versatile enough for a romantic dinner for two or a family holiday, combining a selection of charcuterie and cheeses with fresh fruit and spreads is the easiest way to offer something for everyone. Unsure of where to start? This guide will help you put together your perfect platter!
- Consider how many people you’ll be serving. A general rule of thumb to help you plan portions is one to two ounces per person.
- Find the right board. Once you’ve determined the number of guests, select the appropriate size to accommodate (a larger party gets a larger platter, a small gathering gets a small platter). Slate, wooden cutting boards or even ceramic plates work wonderfully.
- Gather your serving tools. Try to have a knife for each cheese, and individual small serving spoons for any jams or spreads you put out. Don’t be afraid to spread out over multiple platters.
SELECTING YOUR CHEESES
- Go for variety, in both texture and type! If you’re unsure where to start, choose a region for inspiration or pick one cheese from cow’s milk, one goat cheese and one sheep’s milk cheese.
- Still not sure? Ask for help! Even at most grocery store counters, the cheese monger will be more than willing to give recommendations.
- Don’t feel pressured to spend a ton of money on fancy cheeses. With some creativity, even prepackaged sliced cheese can look great on your board! I generally go through our cheese drawer to see what hidden treasures I can find.
SELECTING YOUR MEATS
- Again, think of variety! Cured sausages like hard salami, sopressata or chorizo are good places to start, then include a whole muscle cut like proscuitto or jamón Iberico. If you’re feeling really adventurous, include a paté (here in Milwaukee, Bavette is a fantastic place for more unusual items).
- Remember that even regular ol’ ham and turkey slices will work just fine; you do not need to spend an arm and a leg on artisanal duck sausage.
SELECTING YOUR EXTRAS
- Guess what? More variety! Mix sweet and savory, soft and crunchy and get as creative as you like.
- Vehicles to deliver the meat and cheese, like pretzels, crackers and bread. If you have time, make homemade toast – it elevates any spread from cheese and crackers to something ~*elegant*~.
- Fresh seasonal fruits and veggies, pickled elements and dried fruits all look beautiful and add contrast and balance. I always forget nuts (allergies), but they’re good too!
- Jams, honey and mustards are also great ways to enhance the richness of your meat and cheese platter.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
- Play with a variety of shapes! Roll sliced meats, cut cheese into varying sizes, add bowls, etc.
- Differing elevations adds visual interest.
- Have fun with it! Cliché, I know, but I mean it.
Now you have a fabulous meat and cheese platter that could please even the pickiest of party-goers. Sit back, relax and enjoy your spread!
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As always, pictures are my own.