Chow Town

Attractive cheese boards depend on the slice

Cheese Board
Cheese Board Special to The Kansas City Star

I get a lot of questions about how to cut cheese for a cheese board. I generally tell people to leave pieces of cheese whole.

It looks better that way, I think. The idea is that a few cheese knives and spreaders will allow you and your guests to cut what they would like. It keeps the cheese fresher if there are left overs. Serving larger pieces of cheese is great for a more intimate get-together with a small group.

But for people who are serving larger groups, they don’t want the guests to have to work for the cheese and they want to get them “in and out,” if you will. This calls for cutting the cheese into individual portions ready to be picked off the board. This is not necessarily a bad thing and the aesthetics can be quite compelling if you cut the cheese nicely.

The one draw back is freshness. When you are serving quality cheese, cutting it up is fine but it is better to just cut what you believe you and your guests will eat. Small pieces will not last long. The flavor and texture can go downhill pretty quickly. So no cutting your cheese the week before or even a couple days before. It will be better if you wait until the day of the event.

These are my three go-to techniques for cutting cheese for a cheese board. They keep you from serving the dreaded cheese cube. Whenever I see a cheese cube, I just think of the mass-produced, pre-cut cheeses you get from the deli in your local supermarket.

Check out the pictures above to help you master these techniques.

First, for relatively uniform triangles perfect for a cracker try the “3-4 Wedge.” That was all I could think of. I know it sounds like we are talking football but I assure you we have our feet firmly planted in the curd.

The 3-4 Wedge is perfect when you have a wedge-shaped piece of cheese. Three simple cuts and you end with four small triangles that can be cut down into thin slices.

I’ll give you a simple way to remember what to do. Lets just say “one cut for the tip two cuts for the trap.” First, cut off the tip of the wedge about half way down then you are left with a triangle and a trapezoid. Then take the trapezoid and make two cuts each at a 45-degree angle from the bottom center to the top corner of the trapezoid — one to the right; one to the left. After you have your four triangles then proceed to slice pieces as thin as you like. (See attached photos.)

Second, for cool sticks or “Lincoln Logs” — yeah I know — try cutting slabs from a block of cheese as thin or thick as you want. Then cut long sticks from the slabs. For shorter logs just cut the slabs in half.

You can create cool cheese log cabins on your board with these. Its like cheese construction art.

Third, when I have a short and stubby wedge of cheese I prefer to just cut the “skinny triangle.” It’s as easy as it sounds. Just cut small skinny wedges from the existing wedge. The size will determine how many you get. Then just slice them as thin or as thick as you want.

These are just a few ways you can cut your cheese to create a very beautiful cheese board for any occasion. All of them can be done at home with a good kitchen knife. Be sure to check out the pictures above for help.

Lincoln Broadbooks loves cheese. He is one of the first cheesemongers in the United States and Canada to become an American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professional. He is the manager and buyer for The Better Cheddar in Prairie Village. You can find him on Twitter @LincolnBbooks and on Instagram @lincycheese.