We never have a wealth of cheese leftovers in my house since we love the stuff so much, but I'm always happy after a cocktail party if we do, because I know I can turn it quickly and easily into fromage fort. To create this incredible French spread, all you need to add to your cheese scraps is a clove of garlic and some white wine.
Fromage fort translates to "strong cheese," and it's a brilliant way to make good use of those cheese odds and ends that hang around in the fridge. It's part of the culinary tradition in the French city of Lyon where home cooks would keep adding cheese to the pot to update the mixture.
Because fromage fort is usually made from leftovers, there's no real recipe. For the version pictured here, I used some really good leftovers: Humboldt Fog aged goat Brie, an aged Gouda, some sharp cheddar, and a Sicilian blend of shaved cheeses (Romano, Parmesan, and Asiago). Combined with a dry Cava (Spanish sparkling wine) and a clove of garlic, it turned into an incredible, eye-rollingly good fromage fort.
Although fromage fort was traditionally aged, I've never been able to keep it in my fridge for more than a few days.
- 1 lb of assorted cheeses
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 cup of dry white wine (or 3/4 cup of dry sparkling wine)
- 1/3 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (optional)
- Remove rinds from cheeses.
- Cut cheese into cubes.
- In food processor, combine cheese with wine and garlic (and herbs, if using), and process until smooth.
- Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving (if you can restrain yourself).
- Before serving, top with black pepper to taste.
- Serve with good quality bread, crackers, or vegetables. You can also spread it over bread and broil it until bubbly.
To make sure your fromage fort is as tasty as can be, make sure to check out the following notes.
It's best to use both hard and soft cheeses in your fromage fort so that its texture is creamy. And remember to use blue cheese sparingly, since it can sometimes overpower the flavor of the other cheeses.
If you don't have a lot of leftover runny cheese (and who can blame you?), then you can add some cream cheese or butter to soften the mix. Jacques Pepin's recommendation is that "a little leek broth or liquid from a vegetable soup can be used to moisten the cheese."
Above: Jacques Pepin and his daughter Claudine making fromage fort.
The flavor gets stronger the longer it sits, so try to restrain yourself from gobbling it all up on the first day you make it. It gets even better with time, and even though I am a garlic-lover, I usually only use one clove, as the garlic flavor and fragrance intensifies every day.
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