BRIDGEWATER, N.J., Dec. 14, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- In Italy, antipasto, a platter of cured meats, cheeses and marinated or grilled vegetables, is often served to whet the appetite before a meal, but it also can make for elegant and satisfying cocktail party food – especially around the holidays, according to Chris Ely, Co-Founder of Applegate, the leading producer of natural and organic meats and cheeses.
"I've traveled all around the world looking for sausage and meat recipes for Applegate, and I've found so many wonderful flavors in Italy," says Ely. "Italians have been serving antipasto for centuries, and it's basically about serving simple, high quality food."
According to Ely, who is a classically trained chef, the best part about serving antipasto for a holiday party is that it just requires a trip to high-quality grocer like Whole Foods Market or an Italian specialty store, some serving platters and no cook time. The general rule is to have a quarter pound of meat and cheese per guest.
"One of the chief complaints about holiday parties, or any party, is that hosts spend all their time preparing and in the kitchen and don't get to enjoy spending time with their guests," says Ely. "The antipasto platter solves both those problems quite handily."
Ely's top tips for serving antipasto:
- Variety is key: Ely recommends combining meats and cheeses with a range of flavors – from mild to sharp. In addition to traditional antipasto meats like, prosciutto or sopressato, try grilled sausages, kielbasa or bratwurst. Add in a few marinated or roasted vegetables like artichokes, peppers and cauliflower, along with some olives and a dish or two of nuts and all your guests will find something they love.
- Quality counts: When there are dozens of different hors d'oeuvres on a table, people tend to not notice quality, but with antipasto, the simple ingredients are the star of the show. Choose meats and cheeses that are natural and organic (produced without antibiotics or hormones) and artisan breads to accompany them.
- Keep it seasonal: If you want to grill or roast some veggies or serve some fruit with your antipasto, it's always best to go with what's in season – like squashes or sliced pears. A bowl of clementines look festive and are a delicious winter treat. Dried fruits like figs and dates also pair nicely with dry-cured meats and cheese.
- Keep it moving: Make up a few smaller platters of antipasto and refrigerate, serving only one at a time. Take the platter you're going to serve out of the fridge about 10 minutes before placing out for guests. Bringing the platter to room temperature enhances the flavors of the meats and cheeses. Having more in the fridge allows you to rotate so that a platter doesn't sit out too long.
"The goal is to create an antipasto platter that uses color, texture and flavor to excite the senses," says Ely.
Natural Antipasto Recipe – Serves 10-12
1 Pack Applegate Farms Sliced Coppa
Whole Roasted Garlic
Roasted Peppers and Grilled Vegetables
Marinated Mushrooms or Artichoke Hearts
Assorted Crusty Bread and Breadsticks
For more than 20 years, Applegate has been producing high-quality natural and organic hot dogs, bacon, sausages, deli meats, cheese and frozen products. Natural can mean many things, but when Applegate says their products are natural, consumers are guaranteed that the meat inside is:
- Raised without antibiotics or hormones
- From animals fed a vegetarian or 100% grass diet and treated with humane animal standards
- Free of added chemical nitrites, nitrates or phosphates
- Free of artificial ingredients or preservatives
For more information about our products, visit www.applegatefarms.com