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Filled with red, white, and blue goodies this patriotic cheese tray is a delicious way to celebrate the Fourth of July!
Is there anything more American than a holiday charcuterie board laden with red, white, and blue (cheese)? I don’t think so! Plus, this cheese and cracker board is so easy and so fresh, you can make it in no time at all!
It should be pretty obvious by now that I am a sucker for a holiday cheese board. I mean, I’ve got one to celebrate Galentine’s Day and even one to show my Wisconsin pride! And that’s just the posts showcasing a festive cheese tray. I’ve done a few others too (like this one and this one)!
What is a Charcuterie Board?
“Charcuterie” is just fancy speak for “meats & cheeses,” really. It’s a snacking board typically comprised of a variety of cheeses, cured meats, produce, and textural components, such as breads or crackers, and a few condiments. The charcuterie board rose to popularity a few years ago and can be found all over Instagram and restaurant menus.
I, personally, remember making my first big one back in 2018 when my friend Kristen was visiting me from South Carolina. I laid out a huge selection of Wisconsin meats and cheeses with some apples, grapes, and crackers. We ate it while watching Outlander and drinking some really delicious Wisconsin wine! My skills have definitely improved since then and I’ve learned a thing or two about making a quality meat and cheese tray.
Tips for the best patriotic Cheese Tray
- Say Cheese! Be sure to have a variety of cheeses available on your tray. There’s a rule that you should have at least one variety of: soft, hard, aged, and blue cheeses on your board. Personal preference and cheese availability will definitely affect the choices, but this is a very good guideline to follow. Also consider whipped cheese spreads and cold pack cheeses, too!
- The “cure” for everything! Cheese and sausage is practically a food group in itself here in Wisconsin. The salty, fatty nature of most cured meats pairs so beautifully with creamy and rich cheeses. I like to include a few aged salamis, cut or folded into interesting shapes to highlight their differences and to create visual interest on the board. Summer sausage is excellent with a sharp cheddar and prosciutto and blue cheese were practically made for each other. Place meats closest to the cheeses they’ll most compliment.
- Fresh to death. When dealing with all the rich and savory components of a cheeseboard, it’s important to include fresh produce items like grapes, apples, cucumbers, carrots, berries, etc. to not only highlight the decadent cheeses, but also to provide a bit of balance and simplicity.
- Texture, texture, texture! Offer some crackers, a crusty baguette, or puff pastry straws so guests can build a bite-ful from the board. Candied nuts and dried fruits are also great items to provide necessary crunch, to offset the smooth creaminess of the cheese.
- Feeling Saucy. Jellies, jams, fruit pastes and mustards offer sweet and tart flavors to help create a balanced board. Include briny items such as olives, capers, or preserved peppers, too!
- Wine not? Offer guests a selection of red, white, or rosé wines that will complement the selected cheese. There are also countless craft beers that pair beautifully with cheese!
Assembling a Patriotic Holiday Cheese Board
For this cheese tray I wanted to focus on red, white, and blue foodstuffs, naturally. This included:
- Aged White Cheddar, Sweet Vanilla Cardona Cheese, Blue Cheese, and Mozzarella Pearls as my cheese selection. Of course, any other white cheese that you enjoy will work – such as a nice chèvre, Manchego, or even a Monterrey Jack!
- Hard Calabrese and Sliced Genoa Salami. I sliced the Calabrese on a diagonal line for easy serving and folded the genoa to a cracker appropriate size. Hot Pepperoni would have stood up to the aged white cheddar, too.
- Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and cherry tomatoes as my produce offerings. Blackberries and cherries would have also been delicious!
- Butter crackers, water crackers, and puff pastry straws provide crunch to the board and give guests a place to layer slices of meat and cheese.
- Strawberry rhubarb jam for sweetness (it’s amazing on blue cheese!) and Kalamata olives for a briny tang. So good! Any red berry jam would be delightful with this board and roasted red peppers would offer a vinegary bite as well!
- Malbec and Chardonnay. Because it’s what I love to drink and what I had on hand. If you like the cheese and wine separately, you’ll almost certainly like them together. Making a cheeseboard is supposed to be fun and festive, not cause undue stress!
Tools of the trade
Of course, all the ingredients won’t make a lick of difference if there’s nowhere to put them! When creating a cheeseboard, it’s important to have the right equipment. They don’t have to be fancy or expensive, but a few tools of the trade will help ensure charcuterie board beauty.
- The board. My collection of cheese boards is getting out of hand! I have everything from a small 6-inch slate round for personal boards all the way to a 2x3 foot cutting board that can hold a small feast for a group of a dozen people! When creating a cheese board, assume 6 – 8 ounces of cheese per person, and another 4 – 6 ounces in snacks and sides. You can use a large baking tray, cutting board, or antique serving tray. I’ve even laid down a few pieces of parchment on a table and let the people go to town.
- Jars and bowls. To hold jams, jellies, honey, and mustards. The small 4-ounce Ball canning jars are the perfect size to hold whatever you may be serving! The taller ones are great for holding puff pastry straws or breadsticks. Check thrift stores for small measuring cups or snack bowls, too.
- Serving ware. A set of cheese knives isn’t totally necessary, but it looks pretty amazing set up on your board. A set will often have a designated knife for soft, hard, and aged cheeses. But don’t worry about being too precious about it – a small butter knife and teaspoons work just fine for serving! Be sure to provide your guests with small plates and napkins to put their bites on!
The most important thing about making this patriotic cheese tray is to have fun with it! Cheese boards are an exercise in creativity. Use what’s in season, what’s on sale, what’s delicious. Leave out the olives, add in some blackberries, use three cheeses instead of four, cube the cheddar instead of chunking it. Do whatever you’d like! After all, this is America, we have the freedom to choose!
Holiday Cheese Board – Fourth of July
- Serving Tray
- Cheese Knives
- 4 ounces Widmer’s Cheese Cellar's White Cheddar Cheese
- 4 ounces Carr Valley Sweet Vanilla Cardona Cheese
- 4 ounces BelGioioso Ciliegine Mozzarella cherry-sized mozzarella pearls
- 4 ounces Salemville Blue Cheese Wedge
- 6 ounces Strawberries washed and sliced
- 6 ounces Blueberries washed
- 6 ounces Raspberries washed
- 6 ounces Cherry Tomatoes washed
- 4 ounces Genoa Salami sliced
- 4 ounces sliced Calabrese Salami
- ½ cup Kalamata Olives
- 4 ounces strawberry rhubarb jam
- 1 package butter crackers for serving
- 1 package puff pastry straws for serving
- Begin by preparing the cheese: chunk the white cheddar into bite-sized pieces by pulling it apart with a cheese knife or the tines of a large fork. Slice the Vanilla Cardona cheese into small triangle by place the wedge on a cutting board and creating parallel cuts across the long side (so when looking down at the chees wedge the skinny part should be at the top and the rind should be on the bottom, facing you, slice downward to create small wedges). Leave the mozzarella and blue cheese untouched for now.
- Lay down a serving tray or cutting board and cover with parchment paper, if desired. Place a small jar on the tray and fill it with the strawberry rhubarb jam. Arrange cheddar cheese, Sweet Vanilla Cardona, and blue cheese near three corners of the board. For the mozzarella, place a piece on a toothpick and then add a cherry tomato, as well, for a little cheese and tomato bite! Place these in a pile in the fourth and final corner of the board.
- Scatter the berries into small piles alongside the cheeses and create a long row of the folded salami down the middle of the board. Add the olives (in a bowl, if desired), crackers, and any other items you wish to serve on your patriotic cheeseboard!
- Serve with another tray of crackers and puff pastry straws on the side.
If desired, swap fruits, filling, and accoutrements to suit personal tastes/preferences.
Serve patriotic cheese board with a lovely glass of chilled white wine or a robust red!