An easy cheese platter idea, perfect for game day entertaining, featuring summer sausage, cheeses everyone loves, crackers, and pickled relishes. Perfect football party food!
Football is big in Texas, but in my little neck of the woods, football is bigger than big — it’s life. Which can be pretty tough on a gal who doesn’t know a lick about the sport. Whoopsy daisies.
Although originally from Houston, I married and settled down in the land of my alma mater, Bryan/College Station, home of our beloved Texas A&M University. And friends, if you thought Texas high school football was a big deal in the South, you should see what happens to this town come Aggie game day.
The collegiate flags go up, the traffic pours in, and the party begins.
Remember that whole “I don’t get football” thing? Well, this is unfortunately very true, but on the bright side, it has absolutely zero effect on whether or not we will be celebrating come game day, which is more than fine by me. Both my husband and I are hosts at heart, and we love nothing more than to call in the troops, turn up the volume, and have ourselves a little football party.
Now, while I may not watch the game with intent, I sure do love getting to cook for friends and family, and spending some good ol’ fashioned quality time with them is my happy place. In fact, we love it so dearly, we do it for just about every televised game, you can bet your bottom dollar that this little lady is a true-blue veteran when it comes to hosting game day parties.
And, in addition to traditional Texas game day food like queso, guac, and meatballs, I keep a handy little entertaining trick up my sleeve. It’s simple, it’s easy, it’s quick — and, now for the kicker — there’s no cooking involved. Score.
Yup, you guessed it: The Cheese Platter.
THE BEST CHEESES FOR A GAME DAY CHEESE PLATTER
Over the years I’ve done plenty of experimenting when it comes to cheeses for the board, however, what I’ve found is the cheeses that actually get eaten up are fairly common and mild in flavor. Cheese like Cheddar, Colby Jack, Monterrey Jack, and Gouda are all great for game day entertaining.
Sometimes I just can’t help myself, but to throw in a “fancier” cheese, and on a game day, this will usually come in the form of a Smoked Gouda, as it pairs well with smoked meats and beer.
HOW TO PREPARE CHEESE FOR CHEESE PLATTER
Listen, all those fancy entertaining books are going to tell you to leave the cheese whole. But, I can tell you from many years of personal experience, you’re better off slicing the cheese before it goes on the platter.
Guests don’t want to work for their food. Us humans are just lazy that way. Your cheese is much more likely to get eaten if you cut it up beforehand.
When I am slicing cheese for a cheese platter, I try my best to keep it in the same shape as the block itself as I’m making my cuts. This not only helps guests to know what the cheese is that their eating but also makes for a pretty cool presentation (if you don’t mind me saying so).
MEATS FOR A GAME DAY CHEESE PLATTER
Beyond the cheeses, I also like to have a little protein. We have an old-school deli here in town called Readfield’s that makes a jalapeño cheese summer sausage that is out of this world. If you aren’t a fan of summer sausage you could always substitute an assortment of Italian cured meats such as salami and soppressata, or even throw on a link of grilled sausage.
However, in the defense of the summer sausage, I’ll say this: Summer sausage is inexpensive (which is great for entertaining), and also, easier to chew than cured meats.
When you are serving salami and the like, it’s very important that it is sliced thin or it is difficult to chew. Summer sausage is much more forgiving when it comes to the sizes of the slices, and a little goes a long way.
DON’T FORGET THE CRACKERS
And. what’s a meat and cheese platter without crackers? For the crackers, go with a mild cracker that actually allows the flavor of both the sausage and the cheese to come through.
Saltines, water crackers, and stone ground wheat crackers are all great choices for a game day cheese platter.
LITTLE EXTRAS GO A LONG WAY
Cheese and sausage can be pretty heavy on the pallet, so to help cut the fats, I like to serve an assortment of pickled relishes on the platter.
Small dill pickles, pickled okra, olives and such make a great addition to the platter, and also add a little variation of color, making it extra pretty for all your game day aficionado friends.
HOW TO ARRANGE A CHEESE PLATTER
Anytime you are arranging a cheese platter, the bulkiest items should go down first.
ADD CONDIMENT/RELISH BOWLS TO THE PLATTER FIRST
Add your relishes to small bowls or ramekins, and have ready a large platter, cheese board, wooden cutting board, or tray. Place the ramekins on each end of the platter.
PLACE THE CHEESE AND FAN OUT THE SLICES
Next, the cheese goes on. Bonus for those of you who managed to slice up the cheese and still keep it in the same shape as the block you bought it in! Gather the slices, and if you can, transfer the cheese to the platter all at once.
Place it toward the outer edges of the platter, and fan out the slices. Alternatively, drop it directly in the middle and fan out the slices.
ADD THE SLICED SUMMER SAUSAGE OR MEATS
Find an opening for the summer sausage and arrange it in a fish scale pattern on the platter. It’s ok if the sausage touches the cheese. A crowded platter looks better than an empty platter.
USE CRACKERS TO FILL IN THE EMPTY SPACES
Take your assortment of crackers and fill in the empty spaces, and if there are extra, either place them in a little bowl or a cracker tray near the platter.
THEY SERVE IT UP, WHILE YOU LIVE IT UP
Cheese platters are great for entertaining for so many reasons, but the simplicity and ease of them is quite possibly the best part. They enable your guests to serve themselves and nibble as they please, while you (the host!) actually get to enjoy your own party. Now that, my friends, is a game-day win.
- 1 (8 ounce) block Cheddar cheese, sliced at a 1/4" thick
- 1 (8 ounce) block Colby Jack cheese, sliced at a 1/4" thick
- 1 (8 ounce) block Smoked Gouda cheese, sliced at a 1/4" thick
- 1 (16 ounce) link summer sausage
- 2 sleeves of Saltine, stone ground, and/or water crackers
- 2 cups small dill pickles, pickled okra, and/or olives (drained)
Add ingredients to a large platter, serve and enjoy.
See blog post for how to arrange your cheese platter and ingredient substitutions.