Party platters (or grazing boards) provide a stunning feast for party gatherings of every size and they are surprisingly simple to create. A trendy twist on a traditional buffet, a platter or table covered with an abundance of cheese, charcuterie and accompaniments tempts guests to nibble away, enjoying a little bit of everything as they mingle and sip a glass of festive fizz!
Follow these five top tips from Slate to create a spectacular party platter to impress your guests and keep them satisfied. Best of all, everything can be prepared and presented before they arrive, leaving you free to enjoy all the fun of the party.
1. Choose an attractive platter appropriate in size for your number of guests.
Perhaps a rustic butchers' block, a slate tile or the circular wooden tray of Suffolk cheese, Baron Bigod. If you are hosting a large party, you might consider creating a grazing extravaganza on a length of baking parchment stretched out directly on your table. Whatever your choice, ensure your surface is clean and food-safe.
2. Build structure using crackers, crispbreads and grissini.
Variety of texture, shape and colour is key to creating a grazing masterpiece. Divide your platter into smaller sections with swirls of crackers. Mix brown circular sourdough crispbreads from Peter's Yard with darker hexagonal charcoal wafers from Miller's Damsel. Seeded crackers are also an attractive addition.
3. Add a selection of delicious artisan cheese including a range of milks, colours and textures.
Vibrant orange cheeses such as Sparkenhoe Red Leicester and Lincolnshire Red, to which the natural vegetable dye 'annatto' has been added, are particularly eye-catching, as are delicately blue veined cheeses like Binham Blue and Colston Basset Stilton. Spread bite-size cheese pieces across your platter, well-spaced and leaving room for further treats to be added. Cheeses can be cut into different shapes: small triangles, rectangles or sticks. Soft cheeses such as Brie de Meaux and Baron Bigod are delicious but can be tricky to include as they start to ooze as they warm up.
4. Next comes charcuterie.
Choose a variety of antipasti to offer your guests a range of different meat flavours and textures. Circles of salami or coppa may be fanned out or folded in half; thin slices of Parma or Serrano Ham may be 'scrunched' in to attractive parcels. You may want to keep certain areas of your board vegetarian to cater for all the dietary needs of your guests.
5. Put the finish touches to your grazing board by filling in remaining gaps with cheese and charcuterie accompaniments:
Sliced fruit such as apples and nectarines; brightly coloured berries; olives and other antipasto including stuffed pepperatica and roasted garlic; small bowls of dips; and a sprinkling of nuts such as walnuts and pistachios.
Please remember cheese, charcuterie and dips should sit at room temperature for a maximum of four hours so plan your party preparations accordingly. The first two steps above can be completed well in advance. You can also cut bite size pieces of cheese; fill bowls with dips; and prepare your charcuterie but these should be kept refrigerated until you are ready to create the final display just before your guests arrive and the festivities get underway!