“What the hell is a board?”, my husband asks. “It’s the epitome of hosting!”, I respond, appalled that he didn’t know this. Yes, I get super excited about cooking and entertaining, even when it is just my in-laws coming over. To me, a “board” just sets the tone; it is art for the eyes and the pallette. It gives you a chance to brighten up the table and let’s be honest, it looks classy as hell!
This board took me about 30 minutes from start to finish to put together, it can be done a couple hours early but make sure you wrap it well with plastic wrap and refrigerate so it doesn’t dry out. This would also be a good project if you have little helpers who are always looking for something to do because the piles are “rustic” (fancy word for just throw them in a pile and it looks culinary artsy). You can really use anything you want but the basis is a couple kinds of cheese, sliced meats, fruit, nuts and crackers.
I am a cheese and meat fanatic so I love going into the artisanal cheese section of the grocery store and picking out some new cheeses. They typically have the fancy italian meats here too, as well as samples (who doesn’t love samples). Don’t be deterred by all the different types but I would challenge you to pick out at least one new kind each time and to try to get a good variety of hard/soft and sharp/mild cheeses. The same goes for the meats, make sure you get a variety level of spices here, part of the fun of a board is trying all the different combinations!
Once you make a couple, you will just want to keep making it more and more fancy, get creative! Use large cutting boards or other vessels to hold it, there are no rules here! One of these days I am going to start making little labels that go on toothpicks to identify each, I have seen some really cute ideas. You can go fancy or you can use block cheese and deli meat, once you get it on the board, it will look really nice. Give it a try, your guests won’t be disappointed.
Here is what I did on this board:
Cheeses: Gruyere, 1 yr aged cheddar, chandoka, smoked gouda, and brie
Meats: Prosciutto, felino salami, and capicola
Nuts: Almonds and Cashews
Fruit: Green apples and raisins
Crackers: Onion Toasteds, Pepperidge Farm Golden Butter, pumpernickel rye chips, and garlic and oil pasta chips
Condiments: Course ground dijon mustard