Nuggest of cheese on a marble board

How to Nugget: Putting Up with the Finicky Cheeses

What this is: This is a how-to for cutting hard or crumbly cheeses, including aged goudas, Parmigiano Reggiano, cheddar, and firmer blue cheeses.

Who it’s for: Cheese board builders who want to know all the tricks.

Graphic icon of nuggets of cheese

There are so many ways to cut cheese for a cheese board, and we have lessons here for most of them, including cutting triangles and sticks of all shapes, but another method, called “nuggeting”, is our go-to method for certain cheeses, because it comes in handy when no other shape will do. Nuggeting is when you let the cheese naturally break apart into irregularly-shaped, well, nuggets! You can nugget almost any cheese that is firm enough to break apart.

Here are our three reasons for choosing to nugget your cheese.

NUGGET THE CHEESE WHEN...

  1. You have a very hard cheese and cutting it is difficult.
  2. You have a semi-crumbly cheese (think: a lot of the cheddars) and it won’t cooperate when you try to cut in any other shape.
  3. You have many cheeses to add to a plate and you’re looking for some visual diversity in your pieces.

First let’s look at how to nugget and then we’ll tackle these three reasons above with a little more info.

To nugget you need a knife with a pointed end. You can use a Parm knife, the tip of a hatchet cheese knife or even the point of a chef’s knife. 
  1. Remove any rind you don’t want to serve
  2. With the cheese on your cutting surface, poke the tip of the knife about ¼” into the cheese about ¾” from the corner and wiggle.
  3. The cheese should start to break off here. Use the knife to wiggle it off.
  4. Repeat.
  5. Break up any nuggets that are too big to serve into two pieces.

Hard cheese can be difficult to cut through, so using the nugget technique to break into beautiful bite-sized pieces can make the cutting so much easier. We especially like this for aged goudas and Parmigiano Reggiano. 

Semi-crumbly cheeses, like cheddars and some blues, just won’t cooperate when you try to cut them into sticks or triangles. As you cut them, they have a mind of their own and break along the little curd lines in their paste. It’s not you, it’s them! So embrace their sense of uniqueness and give them a nugget.

Visual Diversity is what makes design special. We use it in interior design, floral design, and yes, even cheese board design. Try mixing up your cheese shapes on your next board with some nuggets! 

SUMMARY

Adding a new cheese shape will not only make your boards easier to put together, they will also make them more appealing!

HOMEWORK

Tackle some artisan cheddar. The next time you have a recipe that calls for cheddar, pick up a block of aged artisanal cheddar (preferably a clothbound cheddar) and try cutting it into sticks, triangles and nuggets to better understand how it wants to be cut—and yes, it has a mind of its own. See if nuggets can make you get along better. Think of it as cheese relationship therapy!

Downloads

Click the icons to download a pdf of this lesson and our two handy guides: How Cheese is Made and Cheese and Pairing Types.

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How It's Made PDF Icon
Cheese Types PDF Icon
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