Simple Tips For Pairing Cheese and Meat
“Cheese and meat go well with almost any occasion. Pair them up with wine and you have a great social gathering. That being said, there are plenty of things you can do with a cheese and meat pairing.”
Do not be afraid of experimenting – the best plates come from a little trial and error. Creating your ideal cheese and meat pairing requires testing food combinations and exploring your taste buds. The experts at Beginner Food provided tips on cheese and charcuterie pairings to use at your next socially distanced get together!
Pair According To Taste
For those looking to satisfy their sweet tooth, there are ways to incorporate fruits or sweet spreads when pairing cheese and meats. Many kinds of cheese have a slightly sweet flavor and pairing them with fruits draws out their subtle sweetness. When using the stronger, more pungent flavors of parmesan or blue cheese, figs are the perfect compliment. They are at their peak ripeness between June and July and are great for summer charcuterie boards.
For richer, buttery cheeses like gouda and cheddar cheese, dried apricots offer a mild sweetness. Salty feta pairs well with sweet pears and ripe cantaloupe is perfectly matched with earthy, nutty prosciutto.
Other, less widely known pairing options, are jams and honey. You may be wondering how it is possible for such different elements to go so perfectly together? The answer is simple: they are complementary. Many types of cheese lack sugar so the sweetness of the jam helps to bring out other, more subtle flavors. A triple cream brie or smooth goat cheese pairs perfectly with a fig or blackberry jam.
Honey, on the other hand, pairs well with aged cheeses that have a good amount of nuttiness. Our favorites include Parmigiano-Reggiano, a tangy Cheddar, or any of the alpine cheeses. They pair perfectly with a rich nutty chestnut or buckwheat honey.
Spicy and Salty
Paprika and cayenne-laden Spanish-style chorizo is a spicy favorite in the snacking world. A few slices of this zesty meat pairs perfectly with a round of aged sheep milk La Serena. This creamy melt-in-your-mouth cheese helps to cool the chorizo’s heat, and you’re left with paprika, garlic, and a slight artichoke flavor.
Spanish olives are another great spicy addition to any charcuterie board. Of course, if spice isn’t your jam, there are milder flavor options available. It’s no secret that olives and pickles are the perfect salty addition to the charcuterie meat and cheese flavor. They’re an important component when pairing cheese and meat because the slight sourness of the olives and pickles cleanses your palate so you can enjoy another bite without the lingering taste.
Taste aside, it’s also important to include a variety of different textures to your charcuterie board. Both cured meat and cheese are softer textures so by adding crunch, it creates a dynamic mixture of taste and texture.
Cheese and crackers are one of life’s simpler pleasures and they’re also one of the best pairing options for adding a little crunch. When browsing the cracker aisle of your local supermarket, you’ll find countless options. If you’re looking for a cracker with a little more character, we have a few recommendations. Our classic favorites are oat biscuits, water wheels, multigrain crackers, crostinis, and other small toasts. You can also spice things up with flavored crackers that bring a hint of sun-dried tomato, rosemary, or other unique flavors into the mix.
Other great texture options when pairing cheese and meat are nuts. A few interesting combos are pecans with gouda or cashews with blue cheese. We would also recommend our aged asiago cheese salami with almonds.
Other Components You Can Pair
There are other items you can pair with cheese and meat to enhance your flavor experience. You can step outside the box and try some unique pairing combinations with the following:
- Cranberry chutney hits that sweet-savory balance just right. It’s the perfect addition to a winter charcuterie board and pairs best with sharp cheddar.
- Chocolate seems like the last thing you’d want to pair with cheese, but you’d be surprised! The salty and savory flavor of Parmesan cheese pairs exceptionally well with the depth of flavor in dark chocolate, bringing out fruity, tart notes in the cheese.
- Pate, also known as meat paste, may not sound the most appetizing but is actually one of the most versatile crowd-pleasers out there! It has a light spreadable consistency and slight garlic flavor that goes great with a variety of cured meats and cheeses.
- Spicy brown or Dijon mustard pairs wonderfully with salami and aged cheddar. You can enjoy it in its pure form or create a tasty mustard dipping sauce for pretzels and other charcuterie goodies.
3 Quick Tips For Preparing Cheese
The way you prepare your cheese actually has a significant impact on its flavor. We put together a few simple tips that will help you take your snacking game to the next level:
- Slice the cheeses before serving to ensure easy access for guests.
- Cut firmer cheeses into ¼ inch slices and softer cheese such as blue cheese into small bites.
- The overall flavor is impacted when the cheese is cold versus room temperature, so make sure to allow time for the cheese to sit out for about 20-30 minutes before serving.
You are now a step closer to assembling the perfect cheese and charcuterie pairings. It is best to experiment and find a combination that suits your taste preferences. Happy snacking!