Creating a cheeseboard for a party is at once more simple and more complex than it seems. Knowing which cheeses you like is at least half the battle. Staying within your budget is most of the other half. But one often overlooked – but very important – aspect of creating a cheeseboard is knowing how to cut the cheese.
Cutting cheese properly will not only make your cheese plate an Instagrammer’s dream, it’ll help cut back on waste, making use of every part of the cheese. The right way to slice varies depending on the type and shape of the cheese, but taking the time to cut each piece properly will ensure guests get perfect rind-to-cheese proportions in each bite, and it will guarantee nobody gets stuck with the butt of the cheese. Plus, pre-cut cheese makes it easier for people to grab and go, helping avoid a bottleneck at the dining room table.
Before you dig in, remember to take your cheese out of the fridge approximately 30 minutes before serving. You want to let it sit in order for the flavors develop; however, warmer cheese is harder to cut, but unfortunately, cutting too early means fresh cheeses could dry out. That’s why it often makes sense to cut part of each piece at the start of a party and keeping an eye on the cheeseboard, replenishing when necessary.
Lastly, you don’t really need one of those fancy cheese knife sets. A paring knife should do the trick to cut softer cheeses, while a wire cheese slicer is a great investment for cutting hard cheeses.
Wheels or Squares of Soft Cheese (Camembert, Taleggio, small wheels of Brie)
Cut diagonally outwards from the center of the cheese, slicing small wedges off the wheel. Soft cheeses like brie are definitely easier to cut while cold, before they get too runny.
Soft Wedged Cheese (Brie)
A soft wedged cheese is basically just a wedge of a big wheel, so cut it into thinner wedges. Cutting brie like this will make sure you avoid party guests digging out the cream and leaving scraps of rind everywhere.
Log Cheese (Goat cheese)
Cut the log horizontally across into moderately thick slices – not too think, not too thin – to aid in easy spreading while preventing the cheese from crumbling.
Rectangular Hard Cheeses (Gruyere, Parmesan, Gouda)
Starting at the thinnest side, or the edge without the rind, cut horizontally across to create “matchsticks.” Once you get closer to the rind or edge, flip the cheese around and cut vertically from the rind to create equal-sized bites.
Veined Cheese (Blue)
Using the center of the thinnest edge as a starting point, cut the cheese into wedges, slicing diagonally across and ending at the opposite edge. These ones are typically crumblier, so the portions shouldn’t be exactly square.
Blocked Cheese (Cheddar, feta)
All hail the king! Parmigiano Reggiano, widely known as “The King of Cheese”, is so prized that Italian banks have been known to accept wheels as collateral for loans. A world in which cheese is as good as currency is a world we want to live in (also we would be SET). One taste of our own Parmigiano, hand selected by our team and imported from Parma, Italy, and you’ll understand what the fuss is about. Aged 24-months, it showcases a nutty sweetness and spice that you can’t find in the green shaker or the grocery store, and is as at home on a cheeseboard as it is grated on top of pasta.
Cheddar is created by pressing cheese curds, so there is kind of a natural breaking point where each curd used to be. Because of this, cheddar, and similar cheeses can be cut simply by digging a knife into the cheese and letting the breakpoints crumble off the cheese to create chunky pieces. Alternatively, you can slice it as you would a log.
Pyramid Cheese (Goat cheese)
You can cut pyramid-shaped cheese just as you would a wheel of cheese: starting from the center, slice across one half and then the other to create mini pyramid-shaped wedges.
In a pinch, just remember that each portion of cheese should have an equal distribution of rind compared to the next.
Have some left over rind from a cheese like parmesan? Use it in pasta water or soup stock for extra flavor.