A meat and cheese platter is one of the most commonly served party platters. While they usually consist of cold cuts and deli-sliced cheese suitable for sandwich making, such platters can also come in other forms. These platters can be used at any size party, large or small, and are particularly popular for events such as casual conference lunches, afternoon wedding showers or receptions, and wakes or funeral receptions. A meat and cheese platter can be arranged at home, but can also be purchased from most delis and from the deli department of most grocery stores.
In the US, the classic meat and cheese platter is a tray of sliced lunch meats and cheeses, interspersed with garnish such as kale or parsley. Meats commonly used for such platters include ham, turkey, roast beef, pastrami and salami. Frequently used cheeses include cheddar, American, Swiss, provolone and pepper jack. This type of platter usually appears with a basket of bread or rolls and an assortment of trimmings and condiments, including lettuce, tomato, onion, mustard and mayonnaise. The idea is to allow guests to build their own cold cut sandwiches.
This is not, however, the only meat and cheese platter option. Another popular party platter consists of cheese cubes and sliced smoke meat sticks. In this case, toothpicks are often provided for serving and eating purposes.
Meat and cheese platters also vary based on location. In much of Europe, such platters might consist of smoked meats, sometimes including fish, and cheeses from which the guests may slice portions. These cheeses would more likely be a variety of European cheese, such as Brie, Gouda, Swiss and cheddar. In Greece, such a tray might be comprised of lamb and sticks of feta. Other nationalities and cultures also have favorite variations on this common combination of foods.
Regardless of the geography or of the precise nature of the meat and cheese platter, it is often considered a party staple. Such a platter might be ordered in advance from a deli, restaurant or grocer. They are often options on catering menus as well. An individual throwing a party might opt to create his own platter by purchasing sliced meats and cheeses from a grocer or deli and arranging them on a plate, tray or platter. While not strictly necessary, a food garnish, often a leafy green such as kale, is frequently used in the arrangement to increase the attractiveness of the platter.