Holiday Entertaining | Building a Knockout Cheese and Charcuterie Board

Think you're too busy to throw together a sparkling holiday happy hour at home this season? Think again.! A noteworthy soiree is well within reach when you call in a team of reliable resources.

With a few pantry staples, and a quick stop by the wine and cheese shop, you will be entertaining in high style in no time at all.. 

Let's begin by building an impressive cheese and charcuterie board as the centerpiece of your menu of sparkling snacks. 

You'll need:

Serving Platters:  A large platter, a large cutting board made of wood or bamboo, a large piece of slate, or even a slab of granite or marble.

Utensils:  allow each cheese its own appropriate knife , spoons for condiments, spreaders for spreadables, small tongs for meats and fruits.

Cheeses:  allow approximately 1-2 ounces of cheese per person, when serving with other small bites. If your cheese and charcuterie board will be the solo offering, 2-3 ounces per person should suffice. 

Select three cheeses for a crowd of 10 or less, 4-5 cheeses for larger parties. 

A good starting point is to have one firm cheese (say an English Cheddar), one creamy soft cheese (Brie, Camembert, Chevre), and one strong cheese (Blue, Roquefort, Gorgonzola). Add a hard aged cheese such as pecorino, and a festive cheese with peppers, soaked in port, or with the addition of spices or truffles for larger gatherings. 

Choose your favorites, or go with a theme— perhaps all cheeses from one country, or all cheeses of the same milk. If it sounds daunting, ask a trusted cheese monger for help; let them know your occasion, tastes and budget, and they can help you shine.

Meats:  Cured meats and charcuterie can be found packaged, or from butcher shops, and might include 3 to 5, depending upon the size of your crowd, of these popular choices:

Cured sausages: Spanish-style chorizo, sopressata, salame, pepperoni
Whole-muscle selections: Bresaola, loma, proscuitto, Speck or Iberico ham, guanciale
Spreads: Pate, rillette, liverwurst, chopped liver, confit, terrine

Breads:  Choose toasted bread rounds, crackers, grissini (breadsticks), cocktail rye bread, or fresh warm baguettes to tear into.

Nuts:  Choose your favorites, plain, or dressed up a bit. Marcona almonds are popular and easy to eat. Walnuts and pecans go well with cheese. Toasted or raw cashews or hazelnuts have a rich underlying sweet note. Seasoned nuts are available on grocery shelves and specialty shops, and you can also do it yourself! Try your hand at these simple Sweet and Savory Spiced Nuts.

Savories:  Pickled vegetables, cornichon, caper berries, pickled peppers, gherkins, and assorted olives. You can find many of these on grocery shelves, olive bars, and bulk bins, but for the expense of just a little time, you can make simple, ordinary olives, one-of-a-kind and extraordinary, like these Citrus Spiced Olives,

Sweets:  Jam, jelly, fruit pastes, fresh or dried fruit, honey and/or honeycomb. Figs, sliced apples or pears, apricots, grapes, berries—all go nicely. You might even be inspired to add a little sweet and savory combination with the outrageously flavorful stove top Balsamic Onion Confit, featured later this week on Notes from Maggie's Farm..

If you're in the Austin area, or even plan to be, give a gander to my #ATXBESTBITES guide to My Favorite Austin Specialty Food & Wine Shops. These are all spots where you'll find knowledgeable and friendly staff, and the best selections available for food, cheese, wine, charcuterie, seafood, and more. 

This week on Notes from Maggie's Farm, look for quick tips for easy holiday entertaining and recipes like these, as well as Pesto-Topped Broiled Oysters and a sparkling Ambrosia Cocktail, just in time to ring in the new year in style. 


  1. Yum-That's all! Happy New Year!

    1. HI! Thank you sweetheart! That's such a lovely compliment coming from one of the most gracious hostesses I know!


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