a-better-cheese-plate

A Better Charcuterie Plate

New Year’s Eve is upon us, the last frontier in holiday festivities and one of the last barriers that stands between us and getting back on track with our health and fitness goals after splurging all holiday season. This year, we’re celebrating in Chicago at The Eve of Eve gala on the 30th, which means the 31st will most likely be spent low key with friends in the comfort of one of our homes to avoid the crowded bar scene, horrendous 2am cab rush, and insanely drunk people. Holy shit, I sound old right now. Ugh.

Anyway. My secret weapon to parties and the “bring a dish to share” complex is always (always) the charcuterie plate. That may sound counterintuitive, but if you’re familiar with the keto diet, which I’ve outline here, it’s the VIP on any holiday spread. After all, nothing says “celebration” quite like a plate of fancy meat.

If you took a second to read the basics of a the keto diet above, you’ve got the key takeaway: consuming high fat and protein keeps you satiated for longer, eliminating the need for continued grazing. When making my plate at any holiday gathering, the charcuterie plate is the first (and usually only) stop I make. I load up on a variety of meats, olives and 3-4oz of cheese and call it a day. By the time I’ve finished and give myself 20-ish minutes to settle, I’m not hungry. In fact, I’m full and satisfied with just enough room for 1,000 glasses of champagne. Perfect!

Here are some tips to build a better charcuterie plate that will wow your friends and keep your waistline in check.

The Meat

A good charcuterie plate really comes down one thing: high quality, delicious meat. Get a variety of textures, cuts and tastes.

meat

  • Prosciutto, this is a no brainer, everyone loves it
  • Other cured meats like capicola or sopressata, salty and delicious
  • Ham, to balance out the salty-ness of the cured meats
  • Something fun like duck, sausage or another type of bacon

The Cheese

Shoot for three or four different types of cheese in three different shapes, colors and consistency. After during a little bit of research I’ve learned that most cheese belongs to one of four basic categories: blue, firm, soft or aged. I always do one from each group…and usually will ask the clerk at the cheese counter for help to make sure I’m not putting together a total shit show.

  • Aged: Cheddar, Comte, Goat, Gouda
  • Soft: Chevre, Camembert, Brillat-Savarin, Brie
  • Firm: Manchego, Mimolette, Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Blue: Gorgonzola Dolce, Valdeón, Stilton

cheese-plate

The Extras

I love to add a little color to the plate though a variety of other small bites

  • Nice olives, pickles or artichoke hearts
  • Nuts, I always use walnuts, marcona almonds and cashews
  • Giardiniera – omfg I love giardiniera.  Nothing is better then a bite of salami with a tangy, vinegary , crunchy vegetable.
  • Jarred condiments like honey, chutneys or mustards
  • Dried fruit or seasonal fresh fruit

The Carbs

Listen, this dish isn’t just about you so you do have to offer some vehicle to serve said meats and cheese for those who aren’t carb conscious. Step away from the Triscuits, Wheat Thins and Ritz crackers (although I love me a Ritz with some PB for a late night snack). Up the anty by getting fancy with it.

  • Grilled bread
  • Baked crackers
  • Thin slices of fresh baguette
  • Thin bread sticks
  • Water crackers

Presentation is everything so make sure you spread everything out, thoughtfully fold, stack and place and voila! Here you go!

a-better-cheese-plate

 

Images via Huffington Post and Gygi.

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