Guys, I think I may have found the perfect recipe. It’s stupid easy, better when you make it ahead of time, infinitely adaptable, and oh, did I mention, it involves 2 pounds of cheese??
Fromage fort, which means “strong cheese,” is a genius French way to use up all the little nubs of cheese that are hanging out in your fridge at any given time — you know, that last little bit of cheddar leftover from your broccoli cheddar soup adventures, the gruyere nub you didn’t use in that tomato tart you made last week, the chunk of brie that remained after your little wine down over the weekend. Combine that with the last glass of white wine nobody drank and a clove of garlic, and you have a creamy, dreamy spread that is delicious on EVERYTHING.
The best part of all of this is how flexible it is. You can use whatever cheese you like or have around. (I’d use caution with anything that’s super strong, including blue cheese, since it can overpower everything else. Unless that’s what you’re looking for, in which case, carry on.)
I was making this for a party and in a rare moment of dietary austerity, didn’t have any cheese in the fridge. So I went HAM at the cheese counter and bought a little bit of a lot of cheeses: a log of goat cheese, some triple-crème brie, a bit of Cantal, a fruity, tangy cheese from France, some Fontina d’Aosta, a grassy, earthy Italian semi-firm cheese, Campo de Montalban, a Manchego-like cheese from Spain (but it’s made with sheep, goat and cow’s milk, rather than just sheep’s milk), a bit of Butterkäse, a buttery (duh) Swiss cheese, and a good amount of one of my favorite farmstead cheddars.
I paired that with some leftover Vermentino, though I think a buttery Chardonnay would be excellent here. I added a massive garlic clove, some black pepper (my cheeses were salty enough that I didn’t need extra salt, but you might need some), and a bit of chopped chives. You may want to add some paprika or cayenne, a bit of parsley or other herbs, or a pat of butter if your cheeses are mostly firm (this smoothes out the texture a bit).
Letting the fromage fort sit for a few hours thickens it a bit and lets the flavors meld a bit, and you can safely “age” your fromage fort for up to a week. So it’s perfect for parties, since you can make it well ahead of time. It’s also perfect for the day after parties, when you’re hungover and all you want to do is sit on the couch and eat junk food. This is basically very fancy junk food. I told you it was the perfect recipe.
P.S. Just realized that fromage fort is the fancy French version of beer cheese, in case you want to class up your next football-watching situation …
- 2 pounds cheese -- firm and semi-firm cheeses grated, soft cheese cut into small pieces*
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives + more to garnish
- 1-2 tablespoons of butter (optional)
- For serving: baguette slices or crackers, plus any other cheese plate accoutrements you'd like
- Combine the cheese, garlic, pepper and wine in a food processor. Blend until the mixture is smooth. If you're using a lot of hard cheeses, you may need a tablespoon or two of butter to get a creamy texture.
- Add the chives and process a few times until they are incorporated. Taste and add salt if necessary (I didn't need any).
- Transfer the fromage fort to a serving bowl, or if making ahead, to an airtight container.
- *What to do with rinds? Obviously cut off any hard rinds, but you can keep any softer rinds -- texture-wise, they'll blend in with the cheese. Really strong rinds can overpower the fromage fort however, so use caution with any washed rinds or anything with a lot of funk.