I love a good meat and cheese tray. It doesn’t matter what’s on it, chances are I’m going to enjoy it. For years, though, I couldn’t bring myself to order a charcuterie plate in a restaurant. Why? I struggled to pronounce the name. Rather than be embarrassed, I just steered clear of ordering them. Eventually, I became comfortable saying “shahr-ku-tuh-ree” and my appetizer selection has never been the same.
Charcuterie is a branch of cooking that focuses on cold prepared meats. Historically, charcuterie is made from pork, so it might include ham, sausage and salami. Charcuterie boards can also include a variety of dry or fresh fruits, nuts, olives, cheese and crackers. I enjoy each of these elements, but the cheese has always been my favorite part of a charcuterie plate. Cheese has a wide array of flavors, textures and aromas; and the right cheese can transform a simple snack or a meal. Not sure how to find a perfect cheese to match your flavor palate? This edition of TRIO provides a quick look at three types of cheeses and some of my favorite ways to enjoy them!
There’s nothing like spreading fresh cheese over a cracker, bagel or toast. Soft cheeses are not aged for long periods. The result is a mild cheese with rich, creamy texture. When served at room temperature, soft cheeses almost have a runny texture. Soft cheeses that you might be familiar with include brie, Camembert, mozzarella and ricotta. Feta and goat cheese also fall into this category. Soft cheeses are perfect companions to top scrambled eggs at breakfast, a spread on a sandwich at lunch and baked in pasta at dinner. Growing up, my mom used to make a baked brie appetizer. Brie can be baked on its own or wrapped in a puff pastry shell. She would change the flavor depending on the season, opting for fresh fruits in the summer and nuts and honey in the fall and winter months.
Cheddar, gouda, javarti and Gruyere cheeses fall into the semi-soft category. Semi-soft cheeses are aged, but not for an extended period of time, resulting in a mild flavor profile and a smooth texture. This type of cheese is ideal for slicing, shredding or melting. Because of this, they are perfect for making grilled cheese sandwiches. If you want to up your grilled cheese game, grab your favorite bread and try one of these 50 recipes.
There’s something “grate” about a hard cheese. Parmesan, Asiago and pecorino are three common types of hard cheeses. Aged to perfection, hard cheeses bring full flavor to anything you add them to. A hard cheese might start with a mild taste, but it will generally end with a sharp finish. The flavor is a result of the aging process. Hard cheeses are frequently dry and crumble or grate easily. In addition to topping off your favorite soup, salad or pasta dish, hard cheeses go great with olives, nuts and cured meats. It’s easy to add a crispy finish to most any meal using freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
If you’re interested in learning more about types of cheese and how to incorporate cheese on a charcuterie boards enroll in our upcoming Charcuterie Board, Appetizers and Desserts cooking short course. To register click here or call 405.377.3333. To find out about more courses like this, sign up for our monthly e-newsletter. View all of our upcoming courses in our digital catalog.
Cara Adney is the Marketing and Media Relations Coordinator at Meridian Technology Center.