This is a traditional French cheese spread made with assorted leftover cheeses, various herbs, sometimes garlic, wine or other spirits. I learned to make this years ago in France (Brittany) and it has been a thrifty staple in my home. We always finish it and start a new batch.
I have heard that in some sections of France, families just add to it and it goes on and on forever. And that it varies by region, some being very strong, some including leek stock, ale, or other things.
This is the best way I know to use up the bits of cheeses from a party or what's left in the back of the fridge - even dried up ends.
Does anyone else have any experience with this? How long does it keep?
You just sent me off in search of a Jacques Pépin recipe I got from the New York Times in November of 1989. (Fabulous - I can't remember what I ate for breakfast, but I remembered cutting out and filing a newspaper recipe 17 years ago and, don't ask how, but I actually found it!)
I made it just one time and we loved it. Don't know why I never repeated it. Anyway, according to Pépin, "Refrigerated, this...cheese combination will keep for a week or two."
If anyone's interested, I will post the recipe on the Home Cooking board.
Jacques Pépin • The New York Times • November 15, 1989
Fromage fort is best eaten on bread or toast. It will keep a week or two in the fridge.
3 to 4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 pound leftover pieces of cheese, a combination of as many hard and soft varieties as you desire, trimmed to remove surface dryness and mold (see note)
1⁄2 cup dry white wine or vegetable broth or a mixture of both
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
salt, if needed
Place the peeled garlic in the bowl of a food processor and process for a few seconds, until coarsely chopped. Add the cheese, white wine (or broth), pepper and salt (if needed) and process for 30 to 45 seconds, until the mixture is soft and creamy but not too smooth. Place in a crock, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
Yield: enough for about 50 pieces of toast
NOTE: if you use only unsalted cheese or a large amount of unsalted farmer’s cheese, for example, you may want to add a little salt. Usually, cheese is salty enough so additional salt is not necessary.
I had never heard of this until reading the recipe in Jacques Pepin's "Cuisine Economique". It is really delicious. Have no tried any of the variations you mentioned but now I'm interested in doing so. I cannot comment on fridge life as it's never made it past supper and then breakfast the next day around here. Delicious comfort food.
I saw, tried, and loved the Fromage Fort from Alton Brown (at the Food Network site) He says keeps about a week.
This is another one of those Frugal French specials that really doesn't have "a recipe," as it depends on what you happen to have on hand. Since I learned to make it from the owner of a dairy farm in France, I have seen a few references to it including in Paula Lambert's "Cheese Lover's Cookbook and Guide." She says the French often age it for several months but it never lasts that long around my house.
The basic guide I've used is about 1/2 pound of cheese, (chopped into small pieces), 1 or 2 cloves of garlic to taste, a bit of mild spice of your choice. Chop all of this in a food processor and then add just enough white wine, cognac or cream to make a thick but spreadable paste.
Use bits and pieces of whatever you have on hand, cutting off really dried out or moldy spots. You can even make this with junky cheese and it still tastes good.
I have also prepared Alton Brown's Fromage Fort Recipe and LOVED it. Easy and addictive, especially if you always have lots of interesting bits of cheeses left in your refridge.
This post is so well timed. I just had a massive wine and cheese at my house last night and I have literally pounds of leftover cheese and was looking for something to do with it.
Thank you for this recipe!
I do a riff on this by just dicing up whatever cheese I have -- strangely the broader the mix, the better (include a soft or semi soft like brie and a blue, too) and tossing the diced pieces together with dried cranberries or other dried fruit pieces, then adding a just a little wine or even a touch of juice to the mix, just to moisten everything up. Pull out crackers or flatbread or pitas (you get the idea) and broil until bubbly. Yummmm. Every bite is a bit different, the bread is crunchy, and the dried fruit is chewy. I serve this as a purposeful bite for my guests -- they LOVE it.