The Best Cheese for your Charcuterie Board: how to choose the perfect cheesesJan 31, 2023
Back in the day, when I was married, we used to host parties and I'd cook big elaborate buffets that would take ages... these days I'm kind of allergic to cooking! But I do still want to have people over and feed them so a charcuterie board is a perfect answer.
You can make up the board in advance, it can be served at room temperature, nothing needs heating (unless you're going all out with baked camembert, you fancy bugger!), it looks good, it has such a variety of stuff on it, that there's something for everyone: your favorite cheeses, fresh fruit, nuts, jams, bread or crackers (or both) and, if you like, and an assortment of meats.
The perfect charcuterie board is finger foods at its finest for the large crowd and it's EASY! My new, single woman's middle name.
Charcuterie boards for smaller crowds
Now, I don't really have massive parties anymore, but I am dating the Art Teacher, who occasionally comes over. Even then I don't really like cooking. It feels too ... domesticated! A charcuterie board has just the right amount of yum factor, without being too stuffy or having ... "do you like what I made for you, please love me?" vibes.
It's practical, versatile, delicious and, did I mention, easy?
Cheese boards for Budgets...
But it's not necessarily the cheapest thing in the world, with all the different ingredients you need to buy so one thing to think about is what cheese to go for. Enough so you have some different textures but not so many that you break the bank.
Of course, if this is for a special occasion and you want to wow the crowd, then by all means go. for. it! Hit all the grocery stores and get every type of cheese going!
How to pick cheeses for the perfect cheese board
Yes we want a wide variety of cheeses but if you are on a budget, a great choice is to go for 5 kinds of cheese (because things look better when they are odd numbers for some reason!), which cover a variety of textures, and can be cut into different shapes, as follows:
Hard, stinky, soft and fruity!
When I was growing up we used to love to visit Hartington's Cheese Shop and laugh at the names like Stinky Bishop! If you have a local grocery store that specialising in cheese, instead of going to laugh at the names (that's optional) I suggest that you go and visit because this way you will get the very best, locally sourced selection for your budget!
Different Cheeses and Cheese board ideas
Sharp, creamy, and yummy. Cheddar cheese is a good cheese and is like the mother of all cheeses. I'm not sure a cheese board would be complete without a good aged cheddar?
Traditionally used to top your bolognese, parmesan may be a familiar cheese but it should not be overlooked as an option for your board. Incredibly zingy, sharp and tasty, top this baby with some fig jam and you will be transported to one happy place.
The Art Teacher and I are like Comte is fancy, fancy! It can sometimes be a bit pricey but boy is it worth it. From eastern France, this baby is a classic cheese with a rich, aromatic, tangy flavor. An excellent choice if you're wanting to show off a bit.
Gouda is waxed cheese and it is yummy but an aged gouda is even better. With the ageing process, little crystals form in the cheese. Weird as it sounds this makes it enjoyably crunchy!
Blue cheese is your ultimate stinky cheese and comes as both soft and semi-hard cheeses.
We love a Saint Agur cheese in my family, which is rich, creamy and quite soft.
We also love a Stilton, which is much more solid with a lovely crumbly texture.
Another gorgeous variety is Blue Brie, which has a rind like a Brie but has veins of blue running through the cheese. gorgeous and creamy and a little stinky. Perfect!
A Shropshire Blue is also delicious and has that same kind of crumbly cheese texture as a Stilton but it's yellow, so adds a little pop to your cheese plate
The ultimate in mild flavors and creamy texture. Brie is a lovely, soft cheese that is a delicious addition.
A baked camembert in the middle of your cheese tray might just make the perfect board. Camembert is from the family of semi-soft cheeses with a bit of stink so you can just pop it in the middle of your board and people can hack away at it. But, if you can be bothered to cook, go for it because it's the best way to eat camembert. I'm not sure there's much better than crusty bread dipped in a gooey camembert!
Sheep's milk or Goat cheese
Covering both creamy, soft cheese or hard (if you go for feta cheese), goat cheese is a crowd-pleaser for sure. You can also find some great cheeses made with sheep's milk. If you have anyone not keen on traditional cow's dairy, goat cheese or sheep's milk cheese are good options.
You might think fruity cheese is only good for Christmas, but I would argue that it is so good, we really should be having it y. I love the varieties with apricots or cranberries in them.
Perfect additions: Additional extras for flair and bonus points
To make a truly epic cheese board, not only do you need different types of cheese (even though I'd probably be happy with just a plate of cheddar), you also need different accompaniments. Here are a few of my favorite things...
When I was younger I worked in a restaurant where the chef's mantra was "if it isn't green, it shouldn't be seen" meaning - don't you dare send any food out unless it's got a sprinkling of fresh herbs on it. The same goes for your board - The best cheese boards have fresh herbs for some lovely greenery to make them pop.
Same goes for Fruit, with all that salt, sticky, cheesy goodness going on, fresh fruit is a great addition and offers a nice palette cleanser. But, people also love dried fruit, so don't overlook some figs, raisins or dried apricots as a lovely budget option that's on the cheaper side.
a great way to add some variety to your charcuterie platter and cut through the savory flavors is to add some jams. Fig jam is a sharp and zesty option that works really well. Plus it looks fancy with those little bits in.
Marcona Almonds, cashews, hazel nuts. All lovely options and I especially like the h ones to add sweetness to the board.
A selection of meats is also a great addition to a cheese platter. Pre-cut cold cuts or hard meats like chorizo are a great option.
Crusty bread, French bread, and uncut bread (as the Art Teacher calls it) with olives or feta or nuts, are all great options. As is the simple cracker. You do not need to go crazy with your carbs, let the cheese do the talking.
A good quality olive oil will always go down well. You can drizzle it on your cheese or dip your carbs in it.
And to drink?
I don't drink but everyone knows that a glass of wine goes perfectly with cheese. In fact, I'd say a red wine with cheese is one of the things I miss the most.
I'll leave you to pick your own favourite red, but there are also some great zero-alcohol alternatives now, should you want to keep your fun on the sober side!