That Cheese Plate is a column by Marissa Mullen—cookbook author, photographer, and Food52's Resident Cheese Plater. With Marissa's expertise all things cheddar, comté, and crudité—plus tips for how to make it all look extra special, using stuff you probably have on hand—we'll be crafting our own cheesy masterpieces without a hitch.
It’s time for my favorite Sunday sporting event! The game where eating is always encouraged, and your snack choices are almost as important as the football itself. For this “Game Day” creation, my goal was to loop in my favorite snack foods while still maintaining the integrity behind the pairings on the plate. Pepper Jack and chorizo? Sign me up!
A few years ago, I created a handy method called Cheese By Numbers. This is a simple, six-step process as seen in my cookbook, That Cheese Plate Will Change Your Life. Think paint by numbers, but with everything you need to make a stunning and tasty cheese plate. Instead of colors, we build according to numbers:
Let’s follow the Cheese By Numbers method to build That “Game Day” Plate, step by step! Before we go into the method, make sure you have a solid foundation. For this plate, I fit a dozen chicken wings—meaning, a hefty platter was the ideal choice. I used a 10 x 15 rectangular tray for this, with two 4-ounce ramekins for our dips.
A note before we get started: Though the below method makes for a whole lot of game-time snacks, you can easily down to make a personal-size Super Bowl plate. Just check out my handy guide to making mini cheese plates.
Because we have many strong tasting notes to stand up against on this board, I wanted to feature two cheeses with bold flavors. When you pick your cheese, think about a variety. I created a river of sliced spicy Pepper Jack cheese across the board, with a pungent Taleggio on the bottom right corner. Taleggio is a washed-rind Italian cow’s milk cheese with a strong flavor. This is the cheese that will most likely leave its mark on your refrigerator, but trust me, its butteriness is well worth it.
Now it’s time to add in our Super Bowl snacks. I’m a big fan of chicken wings, so I couldn’t resist placing them on the board. Make sure you prep serve this plate immediately so the wings don’t cool down! I also added a river of spicy sliced chorizo, with notes of paprika and garlic.
There’s a lot of salt and spice on this plate, so we want to provide a palate cleanser to cool things down a bit. I added fresh, juicy celery to the board for that refreshing crunch; rainbow carrots and mini peppers for a dash of sweetness; and fresh jalapeños for those who aren’t afraid of the burn. This is where we “paint with our produce” and add in color to the plate. The celery offers some bright green tones while the peppers and carrots tie in to the warmer tones on the board.
Time for another favorite game day snack, potato chips! I filled in the gaps on the plate with salty, crunchy ruffles. I also wanted to add some nuts on the plate for snacking, so I filled in the rest of the gaps with spicy almonds to go along with the bold flavors on the plate.
For my dips, I added in Frank’s Red Hot (aka, my favorite hot sauce in the world) and blue cheese dressing. Though the blue cheese is a cooling contrast for all of the spice on the plate, we definitely want that signature spice for chicken wing dipping.
For a finishing touch, I added fresh chives and rosemary to the board for a pop of green color. The garnish is the proverbial cherry on top of the plate—not necessarily meant for consumption but for elevating the overall aesthetic.
You can serve your plate with a basket of crackers on the side for a less salty crunch, as well as extra chicken wings!
Taleggio, chorizo & mini peppers
The creamy, stinky taleggio adds a nice base for the spicy chorizo, providing a complement of fatty and salty notes. The mini pepper comes in with a juicy crunch to balance the salt and pungency.
Pepper Jack, wings & celery
Don’t knock it until you try it! The pepper Jack adds a spicy and sharp contrast to the juicy, crispy chicken. The celery acts as a cooling crunch to complement the spice.
Chicken wings, hot sauce, blue cheese & carrot
A classic Super Bowl bite. The salty, savory chicken is intensified by the hot sauce, while the blue cheese and carrot offer a creamy, mild and crunchy base.
Taleggio & potato chips
A match made in heaven. The creamy, buttery Taleggio makes for the perfect cheese to dip with a salty potato chip.