Nothing sets the tone for holiday entertaining like an eye-catching cheese and charcuterie spread. Artisanal cheeses and fine meats matched with gourmet accoutrements feel cosmopolitan. The fancy flavors, however, are offset by the freedom to graze and eat with our hands—a sophisticated presentation enjoyed in a casual way.
A holiday charcuterie board goes beyond the weeknight cheese and crackers, but you don’t need to plan anything elaborate. With a few thoughtful additions, you can create an elevated holiday cheese board.
Of course, you want to spotlight the food, however, this sturdy, mixed-wood cutting board alone turns heads. At 12”x18”, this vessel can support a bounty of meats, cheese, crackers, and additions—no mismatched plates and bowls required.
Did Someone Say Cheese?
Use this as an opportunity to treat yourself to specialty cheeses that play with different flavors and textures: soft, semi-soft, hard, and blue are good categories to consider. It’s never a party without the Southern staple pimento cheese. A black truffle pimento cheese feels particular holiday worthy.
Ribbons of cured meat give the plain ol’ board an edge—a snacker can take as much or as little as they want, and there’s enough sustenance to actually feel filling. Hard cheeses pair beautifully with soft meat shavings. Delicately flavored cheeses, such as asiago, burrata, and comté call for a lightly smoked meat that will accentuate their notes, not overpower them. We love this smoked speck for its subtle smokiness and vibrant magenta color.
Add Some Crunch
Vary the texture of the spread. Between the meats and cheeses, soft and chewy are well covered. Throw in items with a bit of bite. bourbon smoked spice pecans complement the rich charcuterie and nutty cheeses, such as gruyére. Contrasting flavors can also make for good pairings. Crunchy cornichons have pickled acidity that balance lactic cheddars or decadent paté. Make your selection particularly Southern by choosing pickled okra or green beans.
Salty: Sodium-rich charcuterie and salty cheese demand balance. When choosing whether to make a pairing that complements or contrasts, go with a sweet addition that contrasts. Drizzle southern orange blossom honey over the meat and cheese or put a smear of jammy fig orange black pepper spread on a cracker.
Approach the holiday cheese board as an opportunity to treat yourself to specialty meats and cheeses, and play with additions that provide both aesthetic to the spread and vary the flavor and texture. Arrange everything on your finest chopping block, and let your creativity run loose. Finally, pop some bubbles to kick off the snacking.