One of the best times of the holiday season is getting everything done and finally having a moment to sit and enjoy some quiet time with family and friends. The gifts are purchased and wrapped, my holiday baking is completed and waiting to share, there's holiday music playing and little ones singing...the only thing left to do is relax with a Winter Holiday Charcuterie Board in front of the fireplace with a glass of my favorite wine. Heaven!
For the most festive times of the year, when family and friends spend time at our home, one of my favorite things to pull together is a Winter Holiday Charcuterie Board - easily customized with cheese, meats, fruits, nuts and crackers already on hand, and each one is a little bit different. There's nothing better than easy holiday entertaining - and everyone goes NUTS for this!
There are no rights or wrongs with charcuterie board entertaining! You start by selecting your favorite cheese, meat, spreadables, nuts & chocolates, fruit, condiments and garnishes, add a selection of simple crackers or bread, and serve with your favorite wines, or even a Winter Sangria or Mulled Spiced Wine.
With Skipper being a true Wisconsin lad, there is always a selection of cheese in our fridge, and during the holidays some herring as well. This is the perfect time to use those cheese knives that you have tucked away! A quick visit to the fridge finds all kinds of wonderful things to add - pre-sliced meats and favorite sausages that have been hidden away.
Whether you're having a quiet moment with your sweetie, or a crowd is dropping by, charcuterie boards are so easy to pull together ahead of time or at the last minute, and everyone loves the uniqueness of each one!
Add some fresh fruits - red ripe strawberries, juicy blackberries, and any kind of grapes. Dried apricots or figs add a little bit of flavor flair. Crunch it up with pistachios, almonds and glazed pecans or glorious cashews.
You can get creative with spreadables as well - a simple hummus or your favorite spiced hummus, a little bowl of ham salad, smoked turkey salad, or go fancy with a pate or smoked duck breast. Add a tiny bowl of whole grained mustard, and a fresh fruit spread and you'll have both savory and sweet covered.
Tiny pickles (dill or sweet gherkins) and olives are wonderful as well. A quick trip thru our local fresh olive bar makes for crazy-good possibilities, and a great opportunity to try something new.
Holiday Charcuterie Boards are so customizable - you can scale down and make a simple small board for you and your sweetie to share, adding your favorite crackers or flatbread. For a bigger group, I usually put a selection of artisanal crackers, butter crackers, tiny Naan Dippers or sliced baguette on the side.
Garnishing your platter is so fun too - this time of year I love to use fresh rosemary and add a pop of color and flavor with fresh pomegranate and juicy fresh blackberries, and a selection of red, green or concord grapes looks and tastes wonderful too!
Entertaining for a crowd has never been easier - you can easily add more things to your board as the evening progresses, and if you run out of one thing, no one will even notice!
What are your favorites to include or find on a Winter Holiday Charcuterie Board?
Hope that you have a chance to sit a while, relax and enjoy this with your favorite people during the winter holidays!
The secret of a great charcuterie board is to find fresh flavors and textures that work for you and your friends. Mix and match your favorite cheeses, meats, fruits, nuts and condiments for something wonderful and unique every time!
CHEESE: a selection of 3 or 4 is the way to go. One cheese should be soft and creamy; another firm and aged, another flavorful, and another that is seasonal and different. Some of our favorites include:
MEAT: a selection of 3 is the magic number. Something spicy, something peppery, and something traditional. Some of our favorites include:
SPREADABLES: a selection of 2 gives you a nice balance. Something with an edge – and another that is a simple surprise. Some of my favorites include:
NUTS & CHOCOLATES: you can’t go wrong here at all with a selection of 3. Something simple and roasted, another spicy, and something sweet – the perfect trifecta of favorites. Popular choices include:
FRUIT: a selection of seasonal fruit and something dried gives you a nice balance and a burst of color. Some of our winter favorites are:
GARNISHES & CONDIMENTS: a simple selection of 2 round everything out – one sweet and one savory. Crowd favorites include:
CRACKERS & BREAD: a selection of 3 is the perfect amount – if you don’t have room on your platter, you can place them in a basket next to your board. Some favorites are:
FAVORITE WINES: Pick a few of your favorites and you’ve got an instant party! You can’t go wrong with a red and white, something dry and something sweet:
HOW I MAKE THIS:
1. Choose a nice solid cutting board or wooden serving tray to create your platter. Your guests will be cutting cheese directly on the board so be sure to use something sturdy. You can always add additional platters if you are preparing this for a crowd!
2. Assemble your favorites and place on serving board, starting with the cheese and meats.
3. Don’t slice up the cheese prior to serving – put out some simple cheese knives and let everyone cut off a hunk of their favorite, or a small taste of something new.
4. Purchase sliced meats for easy serving.
5. Place your spreadables in small crocks to contain them on your board.
6. Wash and pat the fresh fruit dry; add fresh and dried fruits for color. If you’re serving fresh apple slices, soak them in Sprite or Seven-Up and pat dry so that they don’t turn brown.
7. If you serve olives or pickles, place them in tiny bowls so that they don’t roll around and flavor other platter ingredients.
8. If you don’t have enough room on your platter, place your crackers and bread selection in a basket or on a separate board.
9. Garnish with lots of fresh green and reds - fresh Rosemary, whole cranberries, ripe pomegranates or pomegranate arils – the perfect garnish for a Winter Holiday Charcuterie Board!
10. Add cheese knives, small tongs and small spoons next to the board along with appetizer plates and napkins.
11. Start with small amounts of each item – you can always refresh your platter as time goes by!
YIELD: serves a crowd!
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