This no-cook app is perfect when you're pressed for time—in other words, during the holidays! Simply shop, plate, then sit back, relax and enjoy a festive bevvie while your guests graze happily.
- The more meat you offer, the more people will eat. For a cocktail party, if you set out only one choice of meat, an ounce per person will suffice. With two or three different meats, plan for two ounces total per person. More than three, three ounces. For a dinner party or a gathering lasting longer than a couple of hours, double these amounts.
- Pick three meats: a dry-cured meat (e.g. serrano ham, the Spanish equivalent of proscuitto), a cooked sausage (e.g. San Daniele mortadella, a mild, crowd-pleasing Italian-style veal bologna) and a dry-cured sausage (e.g. soppressata).
- If you like, add a fourth, non-pork option like bresaola, a beef dry-cured to the point of perfection. This one's definitely a luxury, but well worth it. It was Picasso's favourite, after all.
- Pick three cheeses: a soft cheese (e.g. riopelle, a cow's milk cheese, similar to brie, from Quebec), a blue cheese (e.g. Roquefort Papillon Noir, a blue cheese par excellence, which is made by the aristocracy of Roquefort producers from ewe's milk aged in mountain caves) and a hard/sharp cheese (e.g. Picobello, a uniquely nutty, sweet Dutch cheese with a texture similar to Gouda but a more complex taste and longer finish).
- If you're going to add a fourth cheese, splurge on a conversation starter like Testun Occelli al Barolo, a raw aromatic sheep's milk cheese from Piedmont in northern Italy. It is covered in wine must from the Barolo grape and aged 18 months.
- When laying out your meat and cheese selection, you can serve the meat and cheese together (as we have), or arrange them on two separate platters—the choice is yours!
- Place sweet garnishes (e.g. dried pineapple, apricots, honey) next to the salty cheeses; and pickles, cornichons, olives and other acidic accompaniments next to the meats.
- Nuts pair especially well with cheese. A drizzle of honey makes them the perfect partner for salty cheeses, in particular.
a dry-cured meat
a cooked sausage
a dry-cured sausage
a pork alternative (optional)
a soft cheese
a blue cheese
a hard/sharp cheese
a conversation-starter cheese (optional)
fresh or dried figs
almonds or pecans (candied or original)
aged balsamic vinegar
bourbon chicken-liver pâté