One of my most cherished culinary inventions ever is the cheeseboard. The amount of food related joy it has brought me over the years is quite frankly, priceless. It’s such a social thing as well – endless hours of fine eating and conversation, all washed down with a few glasses of good vino. I could live on them, forever. A selection of cheese is a thing of beauty in my opinion, but particularly the blue. Stilton, Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Danish Blue…I adore the lot. Then add some cured meats to the mix and I’m pretty much the happiest woman in the world.
Our Christmas meat and cheeseboard this year was certainly no exception, brimming with mass self indulgence, with the addition of a Dutch smoked log, a Jarlsberg and a Wensleydale with Clementine, alongside all of the usual suspects. We must have had at least nine varieties that sat in perfect harmony with some Italian cured meats (Parma Ham and Milano Salami to name a couple).
After around day five, proceeding two medium sized buffets and copious snacking in between (mainly by yours truly, and sometimes post midnight), it has to be said that it was looking rather sorry for itself. It’s days of glory had passed so we got to thinking about ways in which to salvage the dregs of this formerly spectacular meat and cheese feast.
In the past we have gone down the route of the ‘Cheeseboard tart’ but my better half had his heart set on the mother of all pizzas – his very own meat and cheeseboard creation. Pretty much everything was incorporated (Stilton, various cheddars, Brie, Jarlsberg, Saint Agur) apart from the Wensleydale which we figured wouldn’t want to be a part of this party. Any leftover meat was also thrown on for good measure.
Dan used his usual tried and tested recipes for both the dough and the tomato sauce – these are Jamie Oliver’s and can be found in his book ‘Jamie’s Italy’ (also online on his website here). Once the sauce was spread, we had lots of fun adding our meat and cheese to the pizzas, along with a generous scattering of sliced black olives and a finely sliced red onion.
I could barely wait for the ten minutes cooking time to be up as I paced around the kitchen in anticipation of the forthcoming meaty, cheesy heaven. For some reason, the fact that they were also in a huge oblong shape only added to the attraction. Similar in a way, to how my mum used to serve Yorkshire Pudding in a rectangular tray. I still prefer it presented like this as opposed to in rounds. Anyhow…I digress. Here is one of the finished pieces:
Evidently, the Jarlsberg decided not to melt strangely (even though its widely known for its melting properties!?), but we found this to only enhance the experience by adding a different firmer texture within the otherwise oozy, soft topping. The base was fresh and crispy and each bite was not only tremendous in the taste stakes, but also a little unknown. With so much variety of cheese lurking around, it was a surprise to munch down on a bit of smoky log or a lovely intense crumbling of Stilton (by far the best part and I do think it needs a substantial helping of the blue to compliment and bring out the flavour of the Parma ham).
The experience as a whole was like ploughing through your favourite meats and cheeses (with olives on the side), all on one platform, with a little added sweetness and crunch coming from the red onion. A joyous concoction and a fantastic way to use up your leftover meat and cheeseboard.