Charcuterie boards. I bet you have your favorite places to order them. Same with cheese plates. Just ask your friends; it will prompt enough discussion to last far longer than you ever thought possible. But, you don’t have to go out to experience the wonders of the charcuterie board … instead of planning a big dinner, have a few friends over and just open up some wine and serve a really large charcuterie board and call it a night. There’s more than enough food to satisfy, and it’s fun to just crowd around the tray. Eating like this says, “Our main purpose here is to talk and connect” in a way that nothing else does.
Of course, you should also consider this as the perfect appetizer for a large crowd. It’s easy, visually stunning, and everyone can find SOMETHING they like on a charcuterie board, right?! It’s all about balance, accoutrements and satisfying a variety of palates.
For meats, prosciutto is always the crowd favorite, so double up there. Consider serving a dried, hard meat as well, like a salami. Paté is another great addition. Think textures and flavors, and have everything from soft and mild to hard and bold.
This same thought can be used when making your cheese plate. But one word of caution: in a day and age of so many great cheeses, consider having something familiar to your guests, like cheddar, that satisfies the less adventurous and makes them feel at home. Having something familiar also helps ease them into trying something they may not know. Also, blue cheese is either loved or hated, so perhaps have it in its own corner if you include it. I, for one, LOVE anything and everything blue cheese. The stinkier the better! But, for instance, my dad won’t eat from a plate that has blue cheese on it, and he’s not alone. With enough of a barrier, though (think of your accoutrements), separating the blue cheese from other items, he’d be okay.
With Kroger having their new Murray’s Cheese Shop section (yes, the same Murray’s Cheese Shop found in NYC) dedicated to gourmet cheese, delicious meat and specialty foods, the entire charcuterie board below was assembled with one quick stop at my local Kroger. I picked up the olives, the Blackberry Farm jam, the smoked meats and gourmet cheese all at Kroger. Their selection of crackers and bread made filling up the hand-held basket quick and easy, too. Pick up some wine and your 15-minute stop at Kroger and 15-minute set up at home means getting ready for company has never been simpler.
Here’s what I recently picked up with an explanation of how I arranged the items and why:
So, how much did this all cost? All combined, including all the jarred items featured above, was pre-tax $109.98. BUT, if I allow for the fact that I only used one third, at a minimum, of each of the above jars, that brings the cost down to $72.95. So, add a couple bottles of wine, and your entire gathering is about $100. Plus, there is no cooking time … except the breads, which are totally worth the time. Having fresh, warm bread is a game changer.
The only thing I’d add for this informal gathering is a bar of dark chocolate to break and pass around. Perfection!
As the holidays edge closer, make sure to check out all of our StyleBlueprint recipes!