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Port and Stilton Serving Suggestions

Updated on November 08, 2015
Port and Stilton cheese are perfect served simply together or with a wide selection of other possible accompaniments
Port and Stilton cheese are perfect served simply together or with a wide selection of other possible accompaniments

Port and Stilton is one of those classic food and drink combinations which for many simply trips off the tongue. One a full bodied, sweet and fruity, high alcohol content Portuguese wine, the other a King among cheeses, its creamy saltiness complemented and enhanced by the richness of the wine. There can sometimes be a tendency for port and Stilton to be viewed as a rich man's fodder, a combination enjoyed only by those in dinner jackets and bow ties immediately before cigars at a formal bash hosted by the Lord of the Manor. While this was at one time perhaps true, the price and ready availability of some very decent ports in modern times means it is now easily affordable for a majority of people. The ports featured on this page are just two of the varieties widely available to buy and represent the more modest end of the price scale.

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Port and Stilton: Traditional Serving Methods and an Explanation

Ruby port and Stilton cheese
Ruby port and Stilton cheese

The most widely recognised tradition with regard to port is probably that it should always be passed to the left at the dinner table. This tradition aside, port is known very often as an after dinner drink, frequently served with Stilton or to complement a more comprehensive cheeseboard offering. There are some traditionalists who will be surprised by the way in which some of the serving suggestions included on this page stray significantly from these established parameters, so I thought I would take a moment to explain why I am suggesting these variations on what is often such an inflexible concept.

There are occasions in the culinary world where it is undeniably wrong to attempt to improve upon perceived perfection. This would be especially true where a dish is comprised of ingredients with very delicate flavours which could easily be overwhelmed. In the case of port and Stilton, however, not only do both have very robust flavours, they are not so much a dish as a popular serving combination. It is these two facts, combined with a desire to further improve the port and Stilton experience, which led to the ideas laid out below. Some of these ideas are of course not entirely original but hopefully you can see something new in most of them and you will be prepared to give them a try, however traditional your tastes may be.

Ruby Port and Stilton Serving Suggestions

Ruby port and Stilton with oatcakes
Ruby port and Stilton with oatcakes

Ruby port is one of the more widely available types of port and one of the least expensive. Don't make the mistake, however, of thinking that its position at the lower end of the price range means it is of inferior quality - that is patently not the case. It is so named due to its similarity in colour to the precious stone and it is a sweet, rich, very enjoyable variety of port.

Port and Stilton with Devils on Horseback

Stilton cheese with devils on horseback on crackers
Stilton cheese with devils on horseback on crackers

Devils on horseback are - strictly speaking - bacon strips wrapped around a form of dried fruit such as dates. In this instance, however, Parma ham is used which seemed better suited to serving with port and Stilton than the more traditional bacon. The crackers used here are very basic and infused with sea salt and black pepper but moderately plain crackers of any type will work just as well.

Per person, take a strip of Parma ham and cut it in half lengthways. Lay a stoned date at one end of each strip and simply roll to encase the date in the ham. Secure with a cocktail stick or toothpick.

Lay a wedge of Stilton on a plate with two crackers alongside. Sit a devil on horseback on each cracker and serve with a glass of port.

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Salt and pepper crackers, dried dates and Parma hamSlicing strips of Parma hamA date is laid at one end of each strip of Parm hamParma ham strips are rolled around datesSalt and pepper crackers and Stilton
Salt and pepper crackers, dried dates and Parma ham
Salt and pepper crackers, dried dates and Parma ham
Slicing strips of Parma ham
Slicing strips of Parma ham
A date is laid at one end of each strip of Parm ham
A date is laid at one end of each strip of Parm ham
Parma ham strips are rolled around dates
Parma ham strips are rolled around dates
Salt and pepper crackers and Stilton
Salt and pepper crackers and Stilton

Port and Stilton with Pear

Pear quarters on crackers are served with Stilton and port
Pear quarters on crackers are served with Stilton and port

Fruit in general is something which goes very well with a wide variety of cheeses and Stilton is no exception. While pears may not be the most popular of choices in this respect, they do work very well in the role. This is a dessert pear which was quartered and subsequently cored before a quarter was laid on a cracker with half a grape to garnish and an assembly served either side of a wedge of Stilton.

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Dessert pearPear is quartered down through the centrePips and core are cut from pear quartersPears are laid on crackers either side of Stilton wedge
Dessert pear
Dessert pear
Pear is quartered down through the centre
Pear is quartered down through the centre
Pips and core are cut from pear quarters
Pips and core are cut from pear quarters
Pears are laid on crackers either side of Stilton wedge
Pears are laid on crackers either side of Stilton wedge

Port and Stilton with Game Pie and Pickles

Stilton served with game pie and pickles
Stilton served with game pie and pickles

The British love affair with pies in general means that there are countless varieties produced and enjoyed around the land. One of the richest and most luxurious, however, must be a quality wild game pie. Dating back many hundreds of years, game pies can be made from a combination of a wide variety of different meats and still to this day represent a taste of rustic, British country life which few other foods can successfully emulate.

Often served and enjoyed cold, game pies can be accompanied by a wide variety of different cheeses, including very much Stilton. This particular game pie is made from pork, venison, duck and pheasant. The richness of the port further complements the pie and the basic pickles that are pickled onions and Branston Pickle provide that perfect final touch.

Wild game pie
Wild game pie

If the idea of game pie with port and Stilton seems a little too rich or voluminous for you - or perhaps you are vegetarian - you could instead consider serving a very basic form of a ploughman's lunch. The mythical ploughman's lunch is supposed to represent the lunchtime sustenance of men who had spent the morning ploughing the fields of England in centuries gone by. In actual fact, the concept is an entirely twentieth century creation, devised as a marketing ploy to help sell more cheese. That should not detract from the enjoyment of the creation, however, and a bit of Stilton with some fresh crusty bread and pickles is enhanced very well by a nice glass of port.

Basic ploughman's lunch incorporating Stilton cheese
Basic ploughman's lunch incorporating Stilton cheese

Tawny Port and Stilton Serving Suggestions

Various fruits go very well with tawny port and Stilton
Various fruits go very well with tawny port and Stilton

Tawny port is a combination of different cask aged wines. It is again named after its colour. It doesn't have quite the same rich sweetness as ruby port and is consequently a little more subtle in flavour.

Port and Stilton with Apple, Grapes and Oatcakes

Stilton cheese with fresh fruit and oatcakes
Stilton cheese with fresh fruit and oatcakes

Apples and grapes are probably the two fruits most commonly served as accompaniments to any cheese, including Stilton. In this instance, a few slices from a Granny Smith apple and a small bunch of black grapes are laid on the plate on either side of the Stilton wedge.

Oatcakes are also a hugely popular accompaniment to port and Stilton, so much so that when port and Stilton combinations are purchased online, a pack of oatcakes will often be included in the price. These particular oatcakes are Stockan's, from the Orkney Islands off the north coast of Scotland. They are absolutely fabulous even by the standards of other Scottish oatcakes and cannot be recommended highly enough.

Port and Stilton with Tenderstem Broccoli and Bruschetta

Stilton cheese is served with tenderstem broccoli on bruschetta
Stilton cheese is served with tenderstem broccoli on bruschetta

Broccoli and Stilton is a classic soup combination. It is from the soup concept that this serving suggestion is derived. The broccoli used here, however, is tenderstem broccoli rather than the heads of broccoli more likely to be used in the soup and it is merely blanched that it retains a definite, appealing crunch.

You will need about four stems of the broccoli per serving. It should be added to boiling, salted water to simmer merely for two minutes, maximum. It should then be drained.

The bread used to make the bruschetta is wheat, spelt and rye but a thick slice from any similar whole loaf can be used. The bread is toasted under the grill/broiler until golden on both sides before being rubbed on one side with a peeled and lighly crushed garlic clove. It is then drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and black pepper.

The bruschetta is plated with the tenderstem broccoli on top and the Stilton alongside.

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Tenderstem broccoliWheat, spelt and rye breadBlanching the tenderstem broccoliBruschetta slice is platedDrained tenderstem broccoli is laid on bruschetta
Tenderstem broccoli
Tenderstem broccoli
Wheat, spelt and rye bread
Wheat, spelt and rye bread
Blanching the tenderstem broccoli
Blanching the tenderstem broccoli
Bruschetta slice is plated
Bruschetta slice is plated
Drained tenderstem broccoli is laid on bruschetta
Drained tenderstem broccoli is laid on bruschetta

© 2013 Gordon Hamilton

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    • Gordon Hamilton profile image
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      Gordon Hamilton 3 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      Glad it was useful to you randomcreative and I hope you get to try port and Stilton sometime. Thanks for visiting :)

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Comprehensive as always! I learned so much here. Thanks for the great resource. I would love to try a port and stilton pairing sometime.

    • Gordon Hamilton profile image
      Author

      Gordon Hamilton 3 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      Thanks very much torrilynn and I'm glad you enjoyed the ideas. Happy holidays to you, too :)

      Thanks Sheri and you're very welcome :)

      Hope you get the chance to try some of the ideas mylinsdaelliott. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

    • mylindaelliott profile image

      mylindaelliott 3 years ago from Louisiana

      Very good hub, I would have never thought of so many different combinations. The pictures make my mouth water.

    • Sheri Faye profile image

      Sheri Dusseault 3 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

      Wow...I want to come to a party at your house! Great info and thanks! Pinning!

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 3 years ago

      thanks for these different suggestions, I really did enjoy reading about them. I've always thought that cheese and crackers go together. voted up and shared with others. Happy Holidays.

    • Gordon Hamilton profile image
      Author

      Gordon Hamilton 3 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      Glad you like the concept and the ideas, electronician. I very much hope you enjoy any of the suggestions you sample. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

    • electronician profile image

      Dean Walsh 3 years ago from Birmingham, England

      I love port and cheese, and several of these suggestions looked truly delicious to me. Voted up!

    • Gordon Hamilton profile image
      Author

      Gordon Hamilton 3 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      Thank you amiebutchko. I'm glad the Hub gave you ideas for serving your guests this Christmas. I hope you and they enjoy what you serve and have a wonderful time.

    • amiebutchko profile image

      Amie Butchko 3 years ago from Warwick, NY

      Great hub! I have a lot of out of town company and this Christmas is no different. I struggle to find things to serve, especially as appetizers before meals. I know my particular company this year will really appreciate these menu options above. And I will seem quite knowledgeable, as I give the history of these items! I'm going to go with the ploughman's lunch for ease of entertaining. Thanks!

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