We had planned on posting this prior to season of 1,000 celebratory meals, but were too distracted by celebratory meals to hit the "publish" button. Next year we'll take our own advice! If your brain feels like a cotton ball and your body feels like an electrocuted marshmallow (does that make sense to anyone but me?) then think about taking the low-key, still-classy-as-heck approach to feeding your loved ones. Below, Erin Hawley tells us how....
Holidays are all about excess in my family. Standing rib roasts, porchetta, potatoes dauphinoise... I could wax poetic about my favorite holiday dishes for days, but do you know what I really love? I really love not being held hostage by my stovetop all afternoon and the satisfying feeling of an empty kitchen sink. I really love the scent of fresh pine needles wafting through my house instead that onion-y smell that won't seem to dissipate for days. Do yourself a favor this year, and learn how to put together a charcuterie board with real finesse. It will be impressive and indulgent all the same, but you can have it all ready in under 10 minutes. Pour yourself a glass of Lambrusco - and relax.
Let's talk strategy.
- Make it look pretty. These dreamboat boards from Asheville-area woodworker, Andy McFate make a nice backdrop for your smorgasbord. Deck it out with a few elegant spoons and bowls for olive pits or scooping up preserves.
- Meats. You should plan on each person eating about 2 oz of charcuterie - err on the side of too much rather than not enough. 'Tis the season for over-eating. Get a few hard cured meats like salami or bresaola to eat on their own, and pair those with some more spreadable items to slather on bread - chicken liver mousse, duck pâté, or 'nduja (this stuff is worth seeking out.)
- Cheese. Go for a variety of textures. It's always smart to stick with a particular region and then get a range of different styles to choose from. If you want to go with Italian cheeses - get an ooey-gooey pungent Taleggio, a semi-soft perfume-y Fontina, alongside a sharp salty Pecorino.
- Don't skimp on the condiments. Just like any good dish, you want a balance of flavors - sweet, tangy, salty. Stock up on things like dried dates, Marcona almonds, and briny pickles to really up the ante. Sure, you can make a fresh tomato marmalade or pickle your own shallots, but you can also just pick up some well-made products from the farmer's market or grocery. No one will be the wiser.