I believe that cheese plates should be a food group. When I think of the perfect meal, I think of a big platter of assorted cheeses, salty meats, mustards, dried fruits, pickled vegetables and hearty breads and crackers. I worry I may not ever love anything as much as I love cheese plates. True story.
I’ve been served too many sad cheese plates in my time, so much so that I think this post is in order. So here you go, all of my charcuterie-loving wisdom is compiled in a tutorial on how to not screw up a charcuterie plate and simultaneously make all of your guests come back for years to come.
- Cheese – Duh. I like to mix it up with a sharp cheese like Dubliner, a soft, creamy cheese like Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam, a smoked gouda or cheddar, and some goat cheese to round it out. I learned from one of my fave food bloggers, What’s Gaby Cooking, that the rule of thumb is about 3 oz. per person. I go with 4 oz. because I don’t trust people who use portion control.
- Salty fatty meats and/or pate – Sorry if this description grosses you out, but it’s accurate. An assortment of salamis, prosciutto, chorizo, and any other dried meat that strikes your fancy will be the perfect salty accompaniment to your creamy, nutty cheeses.
- Dried fruits – Blueberries, cranberries, apricots, cherries, whatever you have on hand will work. Get creative!
- Fresh fruits – Slices of apple, red, green or champagne grapes, and figs are my go-to’s.
- Nuts – Any seasoned nuts will add a pop of extra flavor. I’m a big fan of Trader Joe’s candied pecans because sugar!!!
- Honeycomb – To boug’ it up.
- Mustards – Grainy, preferably.
- Pickled vegetables – If you’re legit and/or from Kentucky where they pickle anything, add whatever you have on hand to the plate. If you’re like me and have yet to try your hand at pickling, jarred pickled onions, olives and/or cornichons will work just fine.
- Bread/Crackers – ‘Nough said.
The arranging is what will take your cheese plate from drab to fab. Just kidding. Everyone will likely still eat it, but don’t you want them gramming it to show all of your friends too? If so, start by arranging the cheese on the platter. Insider tip: slice off some pieces of the cheese slabs so guests feel like they can jump right in. People don’t like destroying pretty things. Then, fill in with mounds of meat and lay the crackers/bread around the borders. After that, fill in as you see fit! The end result should be a bountiful cheese plate with fresh fruits, nuts, pickles and more scattered daintily across the plate.