Friday 21 July 2017

How to make the perfect cheeseboard

Say cheese!

Is there any more perfect way to end an evening than with a cheeseboard?

When we are out at a restaurant, many of us want to skip the meal and go straight to the cheese course.

Whether you are hosting a dinner party or just want to treat yourself, you can make your very own cheeseboard at home.

Choose your cheese and friends wisely then host a cheese-filled evening. Why not go wild and ask your guests to BYOC – bring your own cheese? 

You might be a cheese aficionado or this could be your very first try but here is all you need to know about putting together the perfect cheeseboard:

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Looking sharp

The star attraction of any cheeseboard is, of course, the cheese. It’s important to get a variety of cheeses with different textures. Experts recommend picking five kinds of cheese: hard, semi-hard, semi-soft, soft and blue.

Put a sharp, hard cheese like cheddar with a semi-hard manchego or gruyere then add semi-soft option like fontina or morbier. Compliment your selection with a soft French cheese like brie or even a fresh goats cheese. Finally, no cheeseboard would be complete without a strong blue cheese like stilton or roquefort.

It is always advised to make sure to include a safe option like a mild cheddar or brie for any guests who are unfamiliar with more daring choices like a strong blue.

Feeling patriotic? There are plenty of great locally made Irish cheeses and you could go with an entirely Irish cheeseboard. Pick a soft St Tola goat’s cheese, classic Cashel Blue, semi-soft Durrus cheese with a semi-hard Triskel Gwenned and finish your board off with a hard Glebe Brethan.

If some of this selection isn’t available or you are after something a bit different, speak to your local cheesemonger who will be able to help you pick the best options for your cheeseboard.

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On board

Now that you have decided on your cheese, it’s time to start preparing. To store, wrap each cheese in waxed paper then cover in cling film and store in the fridge – this keeps the cheese moist.

Remember to take the cheese out of the fridge about half an hour before you intend to present your cheeseboard as cheese tastes best at room temperature.

When picking a board, it has become popular to use slate as it provides a dramatic dark backdrop for your cheese. An added benefit is you can write the names of the cheeses in chalk on the slate.

Alternatively, go for a classic wooden board and add labels to identify each cheese.

Place the cheese on the board, leaving enough room for your accompaniments. Don’t forget to put a different knife with each individual cheese.

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Better together

You can’t have a cheeseboard without some tasty accompaniments. While you might first think of crackers, there are plenty of other options to make your cheeseboard really special.

When deciding what to include, you should keep different textures and complimentary flavours in mind. Grapes have become a staple of any cheeseboard but fruit like pears match a soft cheese like brie perfectly or apples work well with a sharp cheddar.

Get continental – put some olives in a ramekin and pop them on the board. Cured Italian meats like a spicy salami or prosciutto also go very well with cheese.

When picking crackers, it is best to go with a selection so there is something to suit everyone -  and more importantly, every cheese!

A caramelised red onion chutney or even an Irish classic, Ballymaloe relish, is lovely with cheese. Just stick a spoon in the jar and put it directly on the board. Then use nuts like walnuts or salted almonds to fill in any gaps.

Now you are ready to amaze your guests!

Cheese up your life with the National Dairy Council. The National Dairy Council is running a recipe competition to celebrate European cheese. They are inviting you to create an original recipe using cheese as the main ingredient. For more information and to see how easy it is to enter your recipe, click here.

Sponsored by: National Dairy Council

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