When you think of French fries, the first thing that probably comes to mind is ketchup or maybe another dipping condiment. Fries are delicious on their own—but they’re better paired with cheese. My favorite? Harbison. It’s French fries’ best friend.
Harbison + Rosemary French Fries
Harbison from Jasper Hill Farm is a young, soft-ripened cheese wrapped in a band of spruce bark. The bark holds the gooey cheese together and also imparts a woodsy flavor. When Harbison leaves Jasper Hill, it is only about 6 weeks old. When young, it has a subtle flavor, with notes of cauliflower and a whisper of pine.
As it ages, it gets runnier and funkier. My favorite time to eat it is right around its expiration date or just after it. The umami, woodsy flavors shine the most then, and it’s when Harbison is at its runniest. The flavor takes on stronger notes of artichoke and pine and an incredible mouthfeel as the creamy bomb coats your entire mouth. This is the wheel you want to pair with your fries.
When you buy a wheel of Harbison, let it come up to room temperature or, if you’re feeling frisky and want the flavors even bolder, put it in the oven at 350°F for about 15 minutes. Cut the bloomy rind off the top to reveal the melty, pudding-like inside.
Take either homemade French fries or frozen fries and sprinkle with some fresh rosemary to complement Harbison’s woodsy flavors. Bake at 400°F for about 20 minutes, or according to the instructions on your chosen frozen fries. Then it’s time to party: Dip in those fries and lift them slowly out of that pool of creamy goodness. The cheese will hold on and stretch ever so delicately and seductively. The potatoes are a perfect vehicle for the cheese, providing a perfect starchy bite to break up the creaminess. It’s like the American version of Raclette with potatoes, and perfect for those last cold nights before spring.
St Albans + Thyme Fries
Have more fries than cheese? Another great cheese to pair with French fries is Vermont Creamery’s St. Albans, a buttery brie-like cheese that comes in a little ceramic crock. Swap the rosemary for thyme to complement this cheese’s herbaceous savor. Put the cheese, crock and all, in the oven for a few minutes and the cheese becomes a luscious dip.
Époisses + Spicy Fries
Another much more savory pairing is Époisses. Traditionally a Christmas cheese though it’s periodically available throughout the year, Époisses is a handsome French stink bomb washed in Marc de Bourgogne wine. It is bold and beefy and has a much more assertive flavor. Let it come to room temperature and the inside gets deliciously runny on its own, as the flavors will only intensify in the oven. I recommend dusting those French fries with smoked paprika or a spicy Cajun seasoning to hold up against the strong flavors. The spicy bite will balance the creaminess of Époisses.
Next time you’re in the mood for french fries, grab some creamy cheeses and get dippy with it.
Featured Photo Credit: Michelle Vieira