Join Leonie from The Essential Ingredient to create the perfect grazing platter
Gone are the days of the Jatz and French onion dip, no more cabanossi sticks, and none of these cocktail onions in red, white, and green for colour; we’ve all grown up.
Look on any Instagram foodie feed and you will see countless images of grazing platters and cheese boards full of colour, freshness, and flavour. But these boards aren’t just for pre-dinner nibbles; they’re a course on their own. Some might even say they are the main event!
So, how do you create a platter that makes your guests come back for more?
Whilst we love throwing something together ourselves, we had to get advice from the professionals for this one. So, we spoke to the grazing platter mastermind, Leonie from The Essential Ingredient at Junction Fair to explain exactly how to make the perfect grazing platter…
You need to have balance. There needs to be some fat, there needs to be some sweetness, some crunch, some freshness, and some decadence. It needs to be approachable, and it needs to be generous. To do this, you need four components: cheese, meat, accompaniments, and something unexpected.
Kicking things off with the cheese, a great board will have a mixture of soft, semi-hard, and hard cheese. Starting with the soft cheese, it’s hard to go past a great white mould cheese like a Brie or a Fromage d’Affinois, or maybe a wrinkled rind goats’ cheese.
Followed by something like a nice bitey blue which will add a little bit of heat and spice; my suggestions are either a Queso Valdeón or some Roquefort. Go hard with a good cheddar, or substitute for a chunk of Mimolette which will add great colour and texture for the final platter.
When it’s time to add some meat, you can’t go past some spicy salami, but if you’re feeling adventurous trial a duck rillette, a slice of terrine, or of course; some prosciutto!
Now things start to get interesting when we move onto the accompaniments. It’s best to think about what goes with each main component on the board and arrange it together. If you’ve decided on a white mould (Brie, Camembert, double or triple cream) try putting it with stone fruit, fresh blackberries, nuts, or dried orange peels from Scoop Wholefoods. With a washed rind, paired with Pâté, some honey or honeycomb, and sprinkle with caraway seeds.
Bulk up your board with sliced fruit bread from Baker’s Delight, cornichons, pickles, and smoked almonds. Alongside your hard cheese serve some fresh or glaced pear and roasted hazelnuts. Also, make sure to add some dark chocolate and something decadent from Cocoa Nib!
So, what’s so unexpected?
It’s the little things that add to the taste -the caraway on the washed rind, the honey on the blue cheese, the dark chocolate on the board.
The best part of building a grazing platter is that you can build your board to your budget and ultimately just have fun with it! Not everything needs to be budget-breaking – choosing good quality doesn’t necessarily mean expensive but a well-chosen, balanced board in terms of flavour and texture makes for a decadent treat.
Ask for information and stories about the cheese and then share it with your guests. They’ll understand why you’ve chosen the selection and will appreciate your effort. Your cheesemonger will also be able to suggest what to drink with the cheeses – and it’s not just about wine. Tea, whiskey, and beer are all great mates with cheese!
And finally, make sure your cheese is ripe, is at the right temperature, and is easy to eat, and don’t add your crackers and bread until before serving. Then sit back and take the accolades; you’ve been slaving all day!
If you’re short on time, there’s no need to stress about pulling all the pieces of a grazing platter together because there are plenty of pre-order options you can get your hands on.
Catering for the sweet tooth? Get your hands on the naughty (but scrumptious) Doughheads boxes. You can choose from two, four, six, eight, and twelve-packs of either the premium Doughheads range, the classic glazes Doughies or the minis! They also cater for events or custom orders.
If you’re catering for gluten-free, vegan, or vegetarian guests, why not add a fresh fruit platter, complemented by protein balls, raw slices, and protein spiders from the team over at Buzz. Just look at all of that colour!
Or maybe you’re just keen to get some good all-around food on the table? You can’t go past a beautifully crafted platter from the team over at Sushi Koo. Choose your flavourings and get stuck in!
So, whatever your plans are this festive season – you’re now fully equipped with the skills to create the perfect grazing platter. Your guests are guaranteed to be impressed and well-fed!