Game Day Gourmet: The Cheese and Charcuterie Board
Football finger foods just got fancier. We all love cheese, right? No, I’m not just talking cheese and crackers nonchalantly thrown onto a plate. What I love about cheese and charcuterie boards—when done correctly—is that there’s something for everyone to nibble on. From the nuts and fruit to the knobs of cheese and specialty meats, this bountiful platter will please any crowd. Cheese and charcuterie boards automatically add that gourmet touch when you’re entertaining, and they especially liven up the average football finger food spread.
Don’t be fooled by this snazzy spectacle! When you’re in a bind, having just remembered you offered to host a football party, rest assured you can whip this up in a jiffy. Simply visit your cupboard, pair what you have on hand with cheeses and meats, arrange aesthetically on a board or decorative plate if you wish, and you’re ready to entertain in style. Don’t forget to add pops of color to avoid an all-beige palette. Lovely bunched up prosciutto slices stand as works of art on their own. Even the slightest sprinkling of bold colors from adding olives, cornichons or fruit can spruce up a board and certainly escalate the flavors of a meat or cheese.
Perhaps the best thing about this stunner of an appetizer is that it can be as expensive as you want it to be. Cheese and meat boards should have savory, sweet and crunchy components. Much of what you see on the board I already had on hand like nuts, jam, dried cherries, crackers, a wedge of brie and apples from an afternoon at an orchard. Otherwise, I purchased in bulk, from the deli department and the olive bar which allowed me to choose how much I wanted instead of buying in excess. I purchased a few slices each of three meat varieties and an olive mix. With brie already in hand, I found the other cheeses at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. For the adventurous: it’s important to note that Whole Foods has a small basket they keep on their olive bar with nibs of cheese to try before committing to a wedge.
As a rule of thumb, cheese often pairs with fruit, nuts or spoonfuls of something sweet like honey or fig jam—like I did—while meats pair with savory components like olives or cornichons. When it comes down to it, you’ll find your favorite combination, and it won’t matter what order you choose to prod at the board. Just seal the deal with a cracker or baguette slice, and get to munching!
Of course these accompaniments can be multiplied, omitted or maybe you’ll find something else that tickles your fancy. Here’s the anatomy of my cheese and charcuterie board:
Cooked Capicola, Salame Felino, and Principe Classic Prosciutto from Whole Foods
Soft Blue Castello, Double Cream Brie, and 1000 Day Gouda from Trader Joe’s
Tete de Moine by Emmi (strong, spicy) and Piave Vecchio (slightly sweet, nutty) from Whole Foods
Cornichons purchased in a jar at Whole Foods
Mixed olives from the olive bar at Whole Foods
Walnuts purchased in bulk
Dried bing cherries purchased in bulk
Fresh fruit: plum from Whole Foods and an apple from an orchard
Fig jam from Whole Foods
For extra munching
Fresh baked wheat baguette from Whole Foods
Crackers: variety pack from Trader Joe’s