A meat and cheese tray is a versatile addition to any party. It can be as elegant or as casual as you'd like, and you can easily modify it to serve 2 or 200.
Before a dinner party, serve a meat and cheese tray that is simple yet interesting enough to whet your guests' palates. Plan for 1/2 ounce of meat and 1/2 ounce of cheese per person. You will generally need less per person for a passed hors d'oeuvre than for a buffet-style tray.
Start off your next dinner party with bites like:
- Prosciutto wrapped around bocconcini, or bite-sized balls of fresh mozzarella, secured with a toothpick.
- Genoa salami cubes or slices served with sharp cheddar or Parmesan.
- Serrano ham and brie served on crackers.
A meat and cheese tray can serve as the centerpiece to a casual buffet. Offer a selection of breads and condiments so your guests can build sandwiches or simply enjoy a counterpoint to the proteins. As a main course, expect each guest to consume 2 to 3 ounces of meat and 1 to 3 ounces of cheese.
Choose at least two meats and two cheeses for variety.
Certain combinations of meats and cheese are particularly complementary and appetizing.
- Serve honey ham, roast beef and chicken or turkey with cheddar, swiss and provolone cheeses.
- Arrange Genoa salami, mortadella and pastrami served with Parmesan, mozzarella and swiss.
A meat and cheese tray can serve as one of several hors d'oeuvres or as the primary offering at a cocktail party. If the meat and cheese tray will be one of several appetizers, plan for 1 to 2 ounces of meat and 1 ounce of cheese per person. If it will be the only dish, expect to serve 2 to 3 ounces of meat and 2 ounces of cheese per person.
Find ways to add interest to your tray using other types of foods.
- Fruit -- fresh berries, grapes or figs add a sweet counterpoint to the heaviness of meat and cheese. Dried fruits add sweetness while mimicking the texture of meat.
- Spreads -- offer a selection of breads or crackers with jam or a compote. Spreads can add sweetness or complement the savory aspects of the tray with a hint of spice.