According to cheese blogger Madame Fromage, 2011 was quite a year for cheese. Cheesemongers were getting their props, cheese apps abounded, and cheesemaking became hip among the under-30 crowd.
Since cheese is enjoying such popularity, I can imagine that sitting in the refrigerators of many New Year’s Eve party hosts right now are the leftover odds and ends of cheese trays. Bits of Gouda, blue, Brie, cheddar as well as a few lesser known cheeses are facing the fate of drying out and eventually being tossed in about two weeks.
This doesn’t have to be their fate, though. The French have a way of saving small pieces of leftover cheese from ending up in the garbage and giving them new life. It’s called Fromage Fort, a cheese spread made from a pound of various leftover cheese pieces, butter, white wine, garlic and herbs. When I read about Fromage Fort over the holidays in my latest issue of Saveur, I was instantly inspired to turn the leftover ends from my Christmas Eve cheese plate into a “who knows what it will taste like” cheese spread.
I did a quick search online and settled on Alton Brown’s Fromage Fort recipe because he never lets me down. If you spend a little time searching, you’ll see that there are variations of the recipe. It seems that traditionally, the cheeses for Fromage Fort were marinated in leek broth for about a week before being mashed together, but most of the versions I saw skipped this step so it can be eaten immediately.
In my Fromage Fort, I had pieces of Prima Donna, mild blue cheese, goat cheese, White Stilton with dates, Swiss and Monterey Jack. When I first made the spread, the flavor of the blue cheese dominated (and all I could think of was that I wanted a burger right then to melt it on), but after a day or two, the flavors melded together and the blue was less predominate. A small amount of blue cheese will go far in Fromage Fort, so if you don’t want it to be the dominating flavor, use very little.
- 1 pound of a variety of leftover cheese pieces, brought to room temperature. Soft cheeses can be cut into small pieces, hard cheeses should be grated.
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped (I didn’t have any parsley so I omitted it)
- 1 small clove of garlic
- Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. If the mixture is difficult to make smooth, pour in more white wine in very small amounts until you achieve desired consistency.
- Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to one week. The flavor will mellow as it ages.
- I have half of my Fromage Fort in a container in the freezer right now. I’m not sure how well freezing it will work, but I’m giving it a try.
- This was great on crackers, but I think it would also make a great filling for a grilled cheese, a Panini, and a delicious burger topping.
- I can also imagine this would be good spread on toasted slices of crusty French bread and placed under the broiler to quickly brown the top.