Primal Party Platter: How To

My sister was just in town so some indulgences were to be expected. That said, I also didn’t want to feel like crap while she was here (or ever, really) so let’s talk about eating primal and how to make the perfect party platter.

Primal is similar in framework to the paleo “diet” with a few differences. The main one, or at least the main one of importance to me, is the inclusion of full-fat dairy. I’ve developed an intolerance to “cow juice” in my old age, but seem to have no issues inhaling cheeses made from sheep or goat milks. Paleo prohibits dairy, and as cheese is a “gateway drug” for me, I tend to adhere to this prohibition pretty rigidly (not without longing for cheese, but nevertheless, I do stick to it). If you are interested in learning more about the Primal lifestyle in general, I highly recommend checking out this infographic from Mark’s Daily Apple.

Now before everybody gets up in arms about me saying this is primal, just remember the title of this post. It’s not a primal every day platter, is it? No? Good, glad we got that out of the way. If it makes you feel better, you can call it Primal+ or Paleo+ – I actually really like that. Paleo+. Cool segue, let’s move on.

As one tends to do when friends and family are in town, exceptions will be made! This past weekend, some friends came over for a raucous GIRLZ ONLY night, by which I mean we ate cheese, drank cider, and watched Thor: Ragnarok. How to make this cheese + charcuterie board, you ask? Well you’ve come to the right place!

The cornerstone of a great platter is this: typically when working with cheeses, you should choose one each of the following – hard, soft, creamy, funky/blue, and “alternative” milk (such as goat cheese). Since we already established above that we’re not kickin’ it with the cow juice, I’ve adjusted this generally fool-proof formula to just include one hard cheese, one soft cheese (or maybe two), and something funky.

I’ve paired it with a few condiments and a few meat options – both store-bought and homemade in each of these categories, along with some nuts, honey, and paleo+ crackers.

Let’s get to it.

A large assortment of meats, cheeses, and accoutrements laid out on a piece of parchment paper taped to a mid-tone wood grain table.

For this party-perfect presentation, you will need:
Large serving platter or parchment paper
Cheese knives
Small bowls
Small spoons

Blue cheese (we used Revelation Roquefort Papillon made with raw sheep milk)
Boucheron or brie (we used Cyprus Grove Humboldt Fog and Wellspring Creamery brie, both made from goat milk)
Hard cheese (we used Cyprus Grove Midnight Moon Gouda made with goat milk)

Chicken liver – homemade component
Prosciutto (from Trader Joe’s)
Salami (we used Trader Joe’s Chianti red wine salami and uncured applewood smoked salami)

Mustard – homemade component
Pickled Onions – homemade component
Fresh figs, dried figs, or fig jam (optional)
Olives (optional)
Pecans or other nuts (optional)

Simple Mills (purchased from Thrive Market and Whole Foods)

Prepare chicken liver the day before. Pour into small ramekins to set instead of the larger storage container recommended in the original post.

First and foremost: decide how you are going to arrange your party platter. I didn’t actually have any dishes large enough, so we used some metallic washi tape to roll out parchment paper down the length of my dining room table. It looked great and was so easy to clean up.

The cheese is the specialty here so I usually like to arrange those first. The two softer cheeses are easy enough to plunge a little serving knife into, but for everyone’s sake, let’s cut the harder one. This should be done at most 15-20 minutes before serving – we don’t want the cheese to dry out or sweat.

Arrange your cheese first. I like to spread them out a bit to leave space for everything else in between. It makes for a visually more interesting platter, and also means you get something yummy no matter what direction you’re approaching from.

An overhead shot of the party platter with black squares around the cheeses indicating placement for how to build your platter.
step one: the cheese

Next, arrange your meat options. You can either place them right next to each other towards the middle of the board, or on opposite ends. I like to arrange my charcuterie in an opposite pattern to the cheese. A good point of focus really is to make sure there is something yummy at any angle.

Slice salami into thin rings. Prosciutto is typically packaged with wax paper in between each layer. Remove all of the wax paper and arrange this thinly-sliced perfection in little “flowers” by which I mean to slightly fold each piece into itself. It looks pretty, makes it easier to grab a piece, and takes up less space on your board. Don’t forget your chicken liver – it should be perfectly set and ready to go.

An overhead shot of the party platter with black squares around the cured meats indicating placement for how to build your platter.
step two: the meat

Arrange your condiments spread out across the board – honey in one corner, spicy mustard in another, and those glorious pickled onions front and center.

If you managed to find fresh figs, cut them into halves or quarters and place them around the board. If using fig jam, scoop some into a small dish to place on the board. I often see photos of platters where people put honey or jams directly on the serving board, but I’m a real life human who then has to clean this stuff up so I’m not going to do that.

An overhead shot of the party platter with black squares around the accoutrements indicating placement for how to build your platter. Items include homemade mustard, homemade pickled onions, crackers, pecans, and a small bowl of honey.
finale: condiments & crackers

Fill any empty space with nuts and crackers. Finally, add any necessary utensils such as cheese knives or small spoons for condiments.


Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

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