How to make a Spanish charcuterie board in 7 steps
What comes to mind when you think of a cheese platter or charcuterie board? I think of a plate that I will eat slowly, sitting at the table, enjoying, chatting, sipping my wine and sharing it with the people at the table. This really sounds like the way Spaniards eat, right? If you also want to enjoy your time and food the way the Spaniards do and make a wonderful cheese platter or charcuterie board to feast on at home, continue reading!
Spain & cheese
Many delicious cheese varieties are produced in Spain. Cabrales, their blue moldy cheese, Manchego, which people love all over Spain or Pitu Afuegau, my favorite smoked, paprika cheese… Before I travelled to Northern Spain in 2018, I was not a cheese lover. I occasionally had it for breakfast or in salads or pizzas. However, after our trip in Spain, my opinion completely changed.
When we wanted a cheese platter in the restaurants in Northern Spain, they normally brought a quite simple platter, with a few kinds of Spanish cheese, some crackers and a piece of Membrillo (quince paste). Nothing too complicated. Nontheless, the quality was amazing. The taste of the cheeses makes my mouth water even now. All of the Spanish cheeses that I have tasted so far are really good. Spaniards also love their cheeses and they consume cheese at every meal. For example, my husband brings kilos of Spanish cheese in his suitcase every time he returns from Spain. But don't worry if you can't find a certain cheese to serve on your platter. You can use local and/or foreign cheese varieties that YOU like on your cheese platter. We used the cheeses we could find in Turkey in the one we prepared at home, with some Manchego, which we had brought from Spain.
Now let's move on to the preparation of our cheese plate and our suggestions…
1. What type of cheese to choose
As I mentioned earlier, it doesn't matter whether it is local or foreign when choosing cheese. You can choose any cheese you want, but choosing and adding cheeses with a more intense flavor (like the blue cheese) and cheeses with a milder flavor (like cheddar) will make your plate more diverse and rich. If you can find Spanish cheeses around you, you can try Cabrales, Manchego, Afuegal Pitu, Gamoneu and Ahumado de pria.
We used the following cheeses in the cheese platter/charcuterie board we made here:
• Gouda with Cumin
• Manchego (Spanish cheese)
• Blue cheese
2. How to arrange the platter
After choosing your cheeses, cut them in different ways according to the shape or softness of the cheese. Cutting the cheese into triangles, rectangles or small cubes will visually enrich your plate. I do not prefer to cut materials into very large sizes. It is better if the ingredients are bite-sized so that the guests can take them directly from the plate and eat them in one bite. This way, they don't have to look for knives and forks.
3. Savory snacks
Add savory snacks that will go well with the cheeses. These can be crackers, grissini and the like (again, to add variety, you can choose crackers from different shapes such as square, rectangular, stick-shaped, or different flavors such as plain or with seeds/grains).
Apart from crackers, savory snacks that can go well with cheese include black/green olives (seedless, I think it's better, so that guests don't have to worry about where to throw the seeds), pickles (we cut them into slices, diagonally), sliced meats such as salami and nuts. (we preferred walnut).
Those who want can also put greens or cherry tomatoes, but I don't like the cheese plate to look like a salad. However, you will make the decision according to your taste, of course, there is no rule that says that can not be :)
4. Sweet snacks
You can also use your favorite sweet crackers (we used raisin breads from Spain). Other than that, you can use fruit (apple, grape or any fruit you like that tastes good with cheese). You can serve the fruits either fresh or dried. We used raisins and dried apricots.
5. Some Spanish touches to your platter
So far, it's all familiar and easy stuff. Now I'll give you two little recipes that will take your cheese plate to the next level and add a Spanish twist: Membrillo (quince paste) and Datiles Rellenos (stuffed dates).
At the beginning of this blog post, I mentioned Membrillo (or "Dulce de Membrillo"). This comes in every Spanish cheese platter even if there is nothing else apart from the cheeses. So where do we find this? It is sold in supermarkets in Spain, but I have never seen it in Turkey or anywhere else. There's really no need to buy it because it's easy to make at home. If you want to read the recipe from my blog post, you can check it right here, if you want to watch the YouTube video, you can check it below:
After you make your Membrillo, you can slice it to the size you want and add it to your cheese platter/charcuterie board.
Our other recipe is even easier! You can do Datiles Rellenos (Stuffed dates) in a few minutes. All you need are dates (you can use large Medjool dates if you want), cream cheese (any cream cheese you like) and walnuts.
First, we cut the dates in half vertically (but not completely). We take out the core and fill it with a teaspoon of cream cheese. Finally, we put walnuts in it. Finished! Cream cheese and walnuts balance the caramelized taste of dates, andit becomes a delicious flavor bomb! Looking like small sandwiches, this snack adds a touch to the plate.
We come to the most fun part of preparing a cheese platter or charcuterie board… You will arrange the foods and create patterns! First of all, we chose a bamboo tray/platter, but it can also be very nice to use a wooden or marble cutting board. Since our platter on which we will be presenting is round, my husband wanted to put the ingredients clockwise (or like pizza slices). By organizing it this way, you can fit many ingredients on the plate and it does not create a messy or overwhelming look.
• First, we placed the sliced cheese on the plate in lines.
• Then, we put the other ingredients next to them according to what we would like to pair them with.
• We tucked the meats (like salami or pastrami) not directly horizontally, but by bending and folding them like flowers in between, thus adding 3 dimensions to our plate.
• We filled the remaining spaces with walnuts or tiny crackers.
• If you will use long sticks like Grissini, since they will take up a lot of space when placed horizontally on the plate, you can put them vertically in beautiful glasses and serve them next to your cheese platter.
• If you wish, you can put small colored toothpicks next to the plate for your guests. They can take whatever they want from the plate with a toothpick and eat it comfortably, rather than taking it by hand.
When I think of cheese platters/charcuterie boards, I immediately think of white wine. My favorite is Albariño produced in the Galicia region of Spain. If you go to Spain or know someone who has gone, you can bring them from there. I don't know where this wine is sold in other countries, but I think you can enjoy your cheese platter with any white wine you like.
After preparing it, both my husband and I could not believe our eyes. It turned out so beautiful and appetizing that we had a hard time not eating anything during the shoot. We finished the shoot with our mouth watering and immediately started to eat. I can say that it is much more filling than it looks! So much so that we could not finish it in one sitting.
If you watch the preparation of this beautiful platter, watch our YouTube video here!
If you try this platter at home, don't forget to share on Instagram and tag us @meetmeinmadridxo!