Entertaining guests at your home can be lots of fun if you can successfully provide the right food, music, and general atmosphere all at a reasonable price. Purchasing food for your big shin dig is usually very taxing on the party budget and you can have a tough time really getting into the party mood if you are breaking the bank to feed your guests. The mainstay for many parties is the deli meat and cheese trays or party platter.These trays can be much cheaper than catered hot buffets. The cool food choice is conducive to easy entertaining since the food does not require constant heating throughout the party or the need for large buffet trays fueled by sterno heating cans. Most deli trays can be ordered from your local grocery store deli or through local caterers. These trays make look nice, but they may also come with a high price tag. The high price should not deter you from a meat and cheese tray theme when you can simply prepare on your own.
The trays are very easy and inexpensive to put together and really do not take up too much time. The first thing you want to do is make sure you have a large platter to put the food on. If your kitchen search comes up empty, consider going to a party supply store and purchasing a light but durable tray to place your meat and cheese on. If you do not want to purchase a platter for repeated use, then consider a recyclable plastic platter or simply use two smaller platters that you may already own. One platter can be designated for meat, and the other cheese.
Next you will want to shop for your food. The platters always start with a bed of garnish which will be long lettuce leaves of romaine or green leaf varieties. If you want brighter colors consider purchasing kale which comes in bright purple and green colors. This colorful garnish provides instant background color to your tray and also can serve as an extra ingredient for sandwich making. The garnishing does not end with the lettuce bed. Also consider picking up some black and green olives for decorating and perhaps some pepperoncinis to sprinkle throughout your display.
Shopping for Party Platter Ingredients
You can now go to the deli to purchase your meat and cheeses. You will want to carry about four to five different meats to serve on the tray. I would recommend the basics such as turkey, ham, roast beef, and salami. Keep the quantities to about one fifth to a quarter pound of meat per person. This will insure plenty of meat for your guests with potential for some leftovers which can be used to pack lunches after the party is over. Try and look for deli sales prior to shopping for your meats so you can take advantage of some good pricing. Also make sure the deli slicer cut the meat thin enough to roll up, so avoid “shavings” and very thick deli cuts.
The cheese can also be purchased in the deli. You will want to take notice of any sales when purchasing cheese. I would recommend some common sandwich cheeses such as cheddar, Swiss, and perhaps some provolone or American. Keep the cheese option to now more than three different types.
You deli tray ingredients are almost complete. You can finish up your tray shopping by purchasing some bread whether it is marble rye, rye, wheat, and white. Also consider purchasing some croissants. The bread offerings should also consist of about two to three different types for your selective group. In addition to bread you will want to make sure you have all the necessary condiments such as mayonnaise, mustard, pickles, and even some tomato, onion slices, and pepperoncinis.
Party Platter Assembly
Prior to your guests coming over you will begin assembly of the deli tray. Simply grab a slice of meat and roll the meat into tubes and place on tray. Repeat this step until you have a desired amount of one particular meat. Repeat that step with the remaining meats and cheeses alternating them around the tray like hands on a clock. For example, one o’clock might be 12 rolls of turkey, two o’clock cheddar cheese triangles, three o’clock green olives, etc. The key is to go around the tray alternating meat, cheese, and vegetable (or condiment). Try and avoid using the same colors next to each other such as turkey and swiss cheese which are both white. If you are creating two separate trays as one is meat and the other cheese then simply stagger every other item to be a condiment such as olives, peppers, pickles, etc. Complete your assembly by placing the sliced breads into a nice basket lined with cloth napkins and cover tightly with plastic until the guests arrive.
Serve a few side salads with your deli tray such as potato salad, pasta salad, or even a gelatin. The choice is up to you but always consider making enough food. There you have it, a deli tray fit for your royal guests.