Manchego Crisps with Serrano Ham, Quince and Marcona Almonds
Truth be told, I’m usually pretty Scrooge-y the week after Thanksgiving. This is largely because I’m a.) sad that my favorite meal of the year has come and gone, and b.) still shaking off a debilitating food coma. I just feel sort of rolly-polly and blah, and I’m experiencing “bah humbug” sentiments about December, which, to be fair, is a month with some serious drawbacks.
First, there’s the shopping. Dear God, so much shopping! And it doesn’t help that my beloved family members are notoriously impossible to buy for. (My mom always says that she’ll love whatever I give her. This is a lie.) Also, hoards of people pushing me in over-crowded stores doesn’t really jibe so well with my anxiety disorder. Second, Logan grows his “holiday beard,” which is very real, very bushy, and a veritable Venus fly trap for finger food crumbs. (Not hot.) Finally, eczema. I won’t go into detail because this is a food blog, but the struggle is real.
Don’t worry. My relationship with December is obviously more love than hate. You know I’m obsessed with presents, festive décor/ensembles, and Christmas celebrations (in that order). And I’m pretty pumped to hop on the holiday party circuit, as I very much enjoy hugging all my favorite people while wearing sparkly things and consuming copious amounts of wine and cheese.
Speaking of holiday parties, I have a rather humiliating confession to make…
I’ve never hosted one.
To those of you gasping in shock at your computer screen, I get it. I’m disappointed in myself too. I’ve thrown infinity football extravaganzas, Cinco de Mayo fiestas, and birthday celebrations, so the fact that I’ve never managed to pull off a holiday soirée is shameful, to say the least.
The most obvious excuse for my lack of holiday entertaining is that until last year, my roommate and I lived in a very small, railroad-style apartment. The apartment’s unfortunate set-up prohibited more than five visitors at any given time, and that was without the requisite Christmas tree involved. Short of inviting small groups of guests for scheduled 15-minute shifts (and then promptly kicking them out when their time was up), a decent holiday party just wasn’t in the cards.
But this year is going to be different, friends, as I have decided to host the most epic of Christmas parties. Not gonna lie, I’m a little nervous, since Logan sent out the invite weeks ago (he’s a planner) to 67 people. Our apartment can comfortably fit 30 max, and we’ve only received 3 regrets, so there may be some issues.
Instead of worrying about the floor collapsing and/or possible eviction, I’m distracting myself by gleefully planning a stress-free menu for the glorious event. I’ve come up with a handful of celebratory recipes (which I’ll be sharing over the next few days), the first of which is Manchego Crisps with Serrano Ham, Quince and Marcona Almonds.
These are finger food perfection, peeps. Grated Président Manchego is baked to golden brown perfection and then topped with thinly sliced Serrano ham, sweet quince paste, and chopped Marcona Almonds. (If you’re feeling particularly wild, you may even want to get a little bit of creamy Président Brie involved as well.) The nutty flavor of the Président Manchego provides the perfect base for these sweet and savory toppings, and each highly textured bite does a little celebratory dance on your taste buds. The deliciousness is almost too much to handle.
I’m also thrilled to report that these crisps are laughably simple to make. You literally just drop tablespoons of grated cheese onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, season each one with a little salt and fresh ground pepper, and then bake them for 8 minutes until they’ve formed magical snowflakes of crispy cheese. You can even make the crisps up to two full days in advance, meaning that all you’ll have to do come party time is add the fancy toppings. Hallelujah.
FYI, if you’d like to enter to win $50 worth of your own Président cheese, hop on over to ArtOfCheese.com, where you can download a coupon and enter the Pinterest sweepstakes. They also have lots of fabulous holiday recipes and product information.
Sponsorship: Lactalis compensated me for this post and provided me with badass cheese products. Thank you for supporting the brands that contribute to the dankness on Domesticate ME! As always, all opinions are my own. Duh.
Manchego Crisps with Serrano Ham, Quince, and Marcona Almonds: (Serves 8)
1 wedge (5.2 ounce) Président Manchego, rind removed
Coarse black pepper
4 ounces Président Brie (optional), sliced into 1-inch pieces
¼ pound Serrano ham, roughly torn
2 ounces quince paste, cut into small cubes
¼ cup Marcona almonds, chopped
Preparing your Manchego Crisps with Serrano Ham, Quince and Marcona Almonds:
-Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment and briefly set aside.
-Using the large holes of a box grater, grate the Président Manchego.
-Pour a tablespoon of the grated Manchego onto the prepared baking sheet and pat it down so that the cheese is in a thin round (about 2½-inches in diameter) . Repeat with the remaining cheese, making sure to leave about an inch between each round. Sprinkle the rounds with a generous amount of coarse black pepper.
-Bake for 8 minutes until the cheese turns a deep golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets.
-Use a spatula to loosen the crisps from the parchment and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
-Top each Manchego Crisp with a slice of Brie, a couple pieces of Serrano ham, a few quince cubes, and a sprinkling of chopped almonds and serve.
Party on, peeps.
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