Tuesday, September 30, 2014

No-Stress Football Food: Cabot Creamery Fall Cheddar Cheese Board

For this month’s no-stress Football Food feature, I’m partnering with my friends at Cabot, Applegate, and Walkers to share simple tips for assembling a Fall-inspired cheddar cheese board that your guests will love. This cheddar cheese board takes just minutes to assemble, and it features the perfect blend of flavors and textures. The best part is that this appetizer can be assembled the morning of the big game. Simply cover it with a bit of plastic wrap, then place it in the fridge. Remember that most cheeses taste best at room temperature, so make sure to take the cheddar cheese board out of the fridge about 30 minutes before serving. The first step to a successful cheddar cheese board is choosing a variety of flavorful cheeses. Cabot sent me a selection of their new Farmers' Legacy Collection, which served as the foundation of my cheddar cheese board.
Assemble your cheeses – three in this case – on a sturdy wooden board from the mildest to the most sharp. The three cheddars in Cabot's Farmers' Legacy Collection each have distinctively different flavors. Alpine Cheddar is creamy and nutty, with hints of Swiss and Parmesan. White Oak Cheddar is inspired by Cabot's award-winning Clothbound Cheddar, and has a sweet undertone and hints of oak. The Farmhouse Reserve is bold, creamy, and extra sharp. I loved all three of these cheeses, but the Farmhouse Reserve is my personal favorite. It's fun and educational to try each of the three cheddars side by side and compare their flavors and textures. I like to make printed cards with each cheese’s name and flavor profile and place them in front of each cheese. That allows my guests to select the cheddar that most appeals to their palate.
Now that the cheddar cheese is laid out, it’s time to add some flavorful accompaniments. Since it’s Fall, I decided to pair the Cabot cheddar with seasonal fruits and some hearty Italian meats. I added thinly sliced Applegate uncured Natural Soppressata and Organic Genoa Salami to my cheddar board. Their bold, spicy flavors paired very nicely with the flavorful Cabot cheddar trio. Applegate’s line of uncured Italian meats contain no nitrates or preservatives -- and they are robustly flavored. Other seasonal Fall items I added to my cheddar cheese board included salty Marcona almonds, plump dried apricots, and chunky apricot preserves. Finally, I wanted to serve a really special cracker to accompany my cheddar cheese board. I wanted something flavorful, with a texture that could stand up to the other components of my cheddar cheese board.
I found just what I was looking for with Duchy Original Oaten Biscuits. These organic English biscuits are part of the Walkers shortbread family, and they're made from wheat and oats grown on farms in the UK. The addition of oatmeal gives these biscuits an earthy, slightly nutty flavor. These cookie-like crackers are crunchy and have a lightly sweet taste. This makes them a perfect partner for the cheddar, spicy Italian meats, and apricot preserves. For my guests who prefer more traditional flavors, I also served buttery round crackers in a lined basket – along with a squeeze bottle of spicy mustard. That way, all of my guests could enjoy their favorite flavor profiles. Cheese boards are excellent for prompting mingling. As your guests gather around the cheese board, they'll inevitably compare tasting notes! My favorite pairing was to place a slice of salami on one of the oaten biscuits, then top with a slice of the Alpine Cheddar and a bit of the apricot jam.
The final step is to select the perfect wine and/or beer pairings to enhance your cheddar cheese board. If you're like me and find selecting the best pairings a bit challenging, check out Cabot's handy online pairings chartWith my cheddar cheese board tips, you’re ready to assemble a fun and flavorful cheese board for your next football-watching party!  

Disclosure: Cabot, Applegate, and Walkers provided me with products to facilitate inclusion in this article. All opinions expressed are my own.

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