To create the ultimate holiday charcuterie board for you this year, we went to our expert, Chef Alex Guarnaschelli, for tips and flavor ideas. Read on to find out what she recommends we pair with our favorite Fisher nuts for the perfect flavors.
Create this gorgeous board to share at any holiday party or to serve with wine and cocktails before dinner with your family and friends around the table.
The larger the cutting board, the more you can pile on for an entertaining assortment that your guests might think is just too pretty to eat.
A charcuterie board is never complete without a selection of meats, easy to eat in small bites. What do you recommend to round out all of these flavors?
"I love both a spicy and a salty meat. I am partial to spicy Soppressata, and the heat and the meaty notes are so good with walnuts in particular. Some smoky ham is also a great way to make a creamy Brie, or any cheese, taste a little smokier. I also have to have some thinly sliced Prosciutto. If you give me a dollop of fig jam with some deliciously salty prosciutto, I am a happy person."
What types of cheese should be paired with almonds?
"I like firmer cheeses that have a built-in nutty flavor. The natural sweet edge of an almond and the delicious taste of their skins are made for a classic Spanish Manchego, Gruyere or Swiss cheese. The other thing to consider is the type of almond. For a subtler Gruyere, I like toasted, sliced almonds. For the richer, more complex Manchego, I like whole almonds with the skin on."
What are some of your favorite spreads, jams or jellies for a charcuterie board?
"I think walnuts and blue cheese, for example, are begging for a tasty fig jam. I also love Quince paste and apricot or peach jam can be surprisingly effective. They bring a tangy dried fruit note and much welcome acidity to the flavor party. On a more savory note, I love an herbed olive oil. Rosemary infused olive oil? Pumpkin seed oil? Reduced or Aged Balsamic vinegar? Sign me up!"
What types of cheese are best for eating with walnuts?
"Walnuts are so rich and creamy. Their skin is almost second fiddle and only textural compared to their almost meaty quality. For me, the tang of a goat cheese, surprisingly cutting and lean, is a perfect companion here. I also love any herbed goat cheeses. A sweet blue cheese, like Gorgonzola dolce, is also great with walnuts. A classic Maytag or Danish blue, salty and surprisingly light, are also a good fit."
Are there fruits or cheeses that work best with Pecans?
"To me, pecans taste like a slice of buttered toast. They can almost sub in for a great slice of bread or a cracker with a cheese platter. To that end, I love extra sharp cheddar cheeses with pecans. Similarly, the rich, almost buttery quality of classic Brie is also great with the toasty pecans. Add slices of a tart apple or some fresh pomegranate with that and we are off to the races!"
Any additional tips to create the ultimate charcuterie board?
"If your cheeses aren’t all naturally salty, I vote for some olives. Meaty green Cerignola or Calamata olives are a nice touch. Try something crunchy and raw too: Celery stalks with blue cheese, sweet carrots with salty cheddar, charred peppers with goat cheese… yum. Dried fruits are always welcome, like prunes with blue cheese, dried peaches or apricots with cheddar and raisins go with just about any cheese. Have fun with it. I always put out a small pot of grainy mustard and a little bowl of honey for drizzling. Sometimes it’s just that tiny last minute drizzle of sweetness that balances the whole bite and keeps people coming back for more!"