Here’s a situation you might be familiar with: you look into the fridge to take stock of your cheeses and realize that you have bits of leftovers but not enough to actually do anything with them.
Well, take heart! It turns out you can use all those little bits of cheese to make what the French call fromage fort (or “strong cheese”), which is essentially a combination of whatever you have left in the fridge. Once mixed, you will have a cheese spread that you can put on crackers or bread, or if you really want, eat directly from the bowl by itself.
“Whey from cheesemaking, or another liquid, such as milk or broth, is added; the crock is covered with a cloth, and fermentation commences. Recipes vary regarding the length of time by which fromage fort and Tupi [a Spanish version] are allowed to ferment, but some versions have it bubbling to twice its original size. (One can only estimate the level of pungency achieved by such a feat.) To halt further breakdown of the mixture, a strong, fortified wine, such as brandy or eau-de-vie, is added.”
Nowadays, you can use a food processor and don’t have to spend all that time waiting for it come together. Recipes can be found everywhere, from Alton Brown to Martha Stewart. The main thing to remember, though, is that there isn’t really a right way to do it. Use the cheeses you like. Want more garlic? Add more garlic! Think of fromage fort as your very own way to show who you are, to make a statement in cheese form.
If you want true French inspiration, watch Jacques Pepin make his own fromage fort:
A couple tips to making the perfect fromage fort:
- Be careful when adding blue cheese. The strong flavor can quickly take over the whole concoction.
- Put in the fridge to chill for several days if you like, just be aware that the flavor will continue to grow stronger as it sits.
- Cut off the rinds before you mix it all together.
- If using harder cheeses, you might want to consider adding some butter to soften things up.
So, go ahead, peek into your fridge. What do you have in there that you thought was unusable?Feature Photo Credit: smitten kitchen