Happy New Year, friends! For our first post of the year, Alex Jones swings by with a recipe for fromage fort. It’s a thrifty and delicious spread that is the perfect way to use up those scraps of cheese leftover from your holiday entertaining. -Marisa
For as long as I can remember, cheese has always been a part of my holiday celebrations.
Growing up, a hunk of sharp cheddar and a wedge of Brie were must-haves leading up to Christmas, and Christmas Eve with relatives in Quebec usually meant a festive spread of nibbles centered around a raclette machine, melting slices of pungent Alpine-style cheeses over potatoes, bread, and veggies.
After scoring a cheap raclette machine of my own at my local Aldi last January, I had friends over for an evening of melted cheese, hot cider, and parlor games just before the Christmas holiday. After the revelry, a few scraps of cheese remained — and rather than tossing them into the compost, I tucked them away in the fridge to make one of my favorite thrifty, easy, cheesy recipes: fromage fort.
The name for this ingenious recycled cheese spread comes from the French for “strong cheese,” and it lives up to its name. Spiked with garlic, white wine, and herbs and spices, the pungency of whichever wedges make their way into your batch get a boost in flavor the longer you let the flavors meld in the fridge.
In addition to being delicious, fromage fort is economical, too. With a little planning and preparation, the remnants of a Christmas or New Year’s Even cheese board can be turned into a tasty spread that will stretch your celebrations well into January.
This preserving method also allows you to customize to your heart’s content: if you favor milder cheeses on your board, go easy on the garlic and spices and you’ll have a milder finished product. If you’re starting out with long-aged hard cheeses, punchy blues, or funky washed rinds, expect to make a fromage fort that will emphasize those flavors.
To make fromage fort, simply save the cheese scraps from your next party, or wait until you’ve accumulated several ends in your cheese drawer. I used a couple of savory washed-rind wheels, Lady’s Slipper from Valley Milkhouse and Humble from Parish Hill Creamery in Vermont, plus a Brie-style and a little herbed fromage blanc from Valley Milkhouse and a small hunk of Smoked Birchrun Blue from Birchrun Hills Farm here in Pennsylvania. (Keep in mind that using more than a little of a strongly flavored wedge like blue will give you something more like a blue cheese spread, so select accordingly.)
Chop your cheeses into small pieces, then bust out your food processor. Finely mince a clove or two of garlic (and maybe a scallion or a bit of shallot) in your food processor, then add your cheese, a splash of wine, and spices — like black pepper, cayenne or crushed red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, thyme, rosemary — and buzz it all up.
Add a dollop of cream cheese or fromage blanc (I used an herbed fromage blanc here) for a creamier texture. From here, you can serve it straightaway for a more dip-like consistency and a milder flavor, or cover and chill the mixture to let the flavors meld and strengthen. You can also freeze a well-sealed batch of fromage fort for future entertaining opportunities, too.
Serve fromage fort with veggies, crackers, bread, or crostini as-is, or spread it onto slices of bread and broil for a few minutes to make a bubbly, pungent treat to serve on the side with soup or salad.
Fromage Fort (Adapted from David Leibovitz)
- 10 ounces mixed artisan cheese you can use just about any kind, although keep the blue to no more than an ounce or so unless you want a really blue-tasting spread
- 1 to 2 ounces fromage blanc or cream cheese
- 2 cloves garlic peeled
- 1 scallion
- 1/4 cup white wine
- Herbs and spices like black pepper smoked paprika, cayenne, thyme, or rosemary to taste
- Chop your cheese into small pieces and set aside. Remove the green top of the scallion and set aside, cutting the white and light green parts into smaller pieces.
- In a food processor, mince the garlic and white and light green parts of the scallion. Add the chunks of cheese, 1 ounce of the cream cheese, the wine, and the spices and pulse until the mixture is smooth and spreadable. If the mixture seems too thick, add the rest of the cream cheese or another splash of wine. Taste and adjust spice accordingly.
- Serve immediately for a milder, dippable spread, or cover and chill for up to several days for a stronger flavor. Freeze in an airtight container for up to 6 months.