Any variety of cheese may be used to make this pungent spread called fromage fort or strong cheese in French.  It’s ideal to make with all the leftover bits of cheese on hand after a season of entertaining.  We make it to tame inventory in the cheese drawer.  Restaurateurs make it too, often as a house specialty.  (Chef Jacques Chibois served a memorable version made by a local fromager to compliment the aromatic cooking served at his at the Auberge de Saint Antoine in Grasse, France.)

Use this recipe as a road map.  Once you feel comfortable making it, you won’t need a recipe. Using hard cheeses may require more butter and less wine or stock.  Using creamy cheeses may require that you cut back on the additional liquid. Add cream cheese to smooth out the blend. (This is useful if you have mainly hard cheeses in your mix.) The addition of toasted nuts adds another dimension to the spread, especially welcome when using mild cheeses.  But the nuts are totally optional and I don’t often feel the need to use them.

Serve this spread with crackers from a crock as pictured. Spread it on sliced country bread then broil it for a bracing starter to serve with red wine or whiskey cocktails. Fromage Fort keeps well covered in the refrigerator and improves with age.  It may also be frozen.

Fromage Fort

Fromage Fort

Ingredients

2 large cloves of garlic, peeled
2 scallions, trimmed and chopped coarse
10 ounces assorted cheese such as cheddar, washed rind cheese like Brie, blue cheese, grated or chopped
3- 4 ounces unsalted butter
3 ounces cream cheese, optional
½ cup white wine
Chicken stock, if needed
Generous grating fresh black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1 tablespoon fresh chopped chives
Pinch of fresh thyme
¼ cup almonds, walnuts or pistachios, toasted and chopped fine, optional

Directions

  1. Place the garlic and scallions in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and process until finely chopped. Add the chopped cheese and butter. Process until well blended.
  2. Taste and add more butter to mellow the flavor if you like. Add the cream cheese if using. Process until smooth.
  3. Scrape the bowl.
  4. Add half of the white wine and some stock, if using, pepper, parsley, chives and thyme. Process until mixture reaches a smooth and creamy texture. Add more wine or stock if necessary.
  5. Stir in the chopped toasted nuts if using.