When the South West sunshine makes its spring debut, we plan to be outdoors, sipping a glass of chilled wine with friends and grazing on moreish morsels – not in the kitchen fixing up fancy food for a crowd. Championing the sharing board as this year’s fuss-free party pleaser is Nick Hodges, executive chef at The Greenbank Hotel in Falmouth
Check out Nick’s sharing board tips ’n’ tricks for home cooks – inspired by the Water’s Edge Restaurant’s new all day menu
Pick a theme
Just because you like a random group of ingredients doesn’t mean they’ll work together in a dish, and the same goes for a sharing board. Pick a couple of different components that work well together and build your board from there.
Here are a few combinations we love at the Water’s Edge to get you started:
- Pressed confit duck terrine, pickled beets, radishes, red cabbage slaw
- Woodland mushrooms, pickled wild mushrooms, ciabatta croute, watercress
- Potted Cornish crab, brown crab meat, cayenne salt, aioli, granary loaf
Don’t overcomplicate things
When the ingredients you are using are fresh, local and in season, you don’t have to do a lot to make the flavours sing. Keep things simple and you can’t go wrong.
Our boards may sound accomplished, but they can be easily replicated at home. For instance, our Cornish crab board is just a riff on the classic crab sarnie. We handpick the potted crab, but you can buy the meat from your local fishmonger. Try adding a lightly spiced butter to the brown meat, along with a pinch of cayenne salt for a fiery kick which will complement the silky garlic aioli. Finish off with lemon zest to add zing to the granary loaf.
Add some acidity
Pickled veggies add another dimension to your board and are easy to make in advance. The process of pickling cuts through the natural fattiness of meats such as duck and works well with cured meats like prosciutto and chorizo.
Use a white wine or cider vinegar to pickle veg as malt vinegar will be too strong. Bring it to the boil with equal weighting of water and a tablespoon of sugar, and add vegetables (for example, mushrooms) once removed from the heat. Leave overnight and they’ll be good for a few weeks.
Cooking for a crowd doesn’t have to mean a Saturday spent sweating over the stove. Mezze maestro Bryok Williams shares his top tips for the ultimate fuss-free social supper