Fromage Fort, French “strong cheese” is usually made with bits of leftover cheese, the more variety the better, and moistened with dry white wine, chicken stock, or leek broth.
Tasting Lab: Our version of Fromage Fort is made with cider instead of dry white wine.
We selected Farnum Hill Extra Dry Cider*, collected the assorted cheese scraps we had on hand, chopped them into a fairly fine mince, smashed 3 small garlic cloves, filled our jar with the garlic and cheese, splashed in about 2/3 cup of Farnum Hill Extra Dry Cider, leaving more than enough cider enough to enjoy a glass or two. We skipped the salt and pepper as our blend contained many already flavorful cheeses, and figured we could add seasoning later if needed.
There are more detailed recipes, but this is not one of them.
Our Strong Cheese with Cider is “maturing” the refrigerator. You can eat this right away as a mild spread on toasted bread or crackers, and a few moments in the oven or under the broiler to melt and brown the cheese is often recommended. Contemporary recipes suggest a whirl in the food processor, but we went traditional and chopped with a knife – giving us a better sense of the types of rind bits we were incorporating.
Note: Remove cloth or wax rinds – we left all other rinds intact, because we like cider and we also like cheese, and rinds are very important part of the cheese flavor experience. You of course, are welcome to trim your rinds, if that is to your taste. (If your cheese has odd bits of uncharacteristic mold – you should trim those off).
Traditionally you age the Fromage Fort, and most modern recipes suggest the mixture can mature for a week or two (if it lasts that long).
For an interesting read see Turning Leftover Cheese Into a Classic from The 1989 New York Times series, The Purposeful Cook, by Jacques Pepin. If you are interested in foodways, Jacques Pepin’s style of storytelling, sharing personal food history, and teaching culinary methods while explaining a recipe, is enlightening.
Purposeful indeed – with a happy frugality, appreciating that abundance is not to be squandered, scraps are to be saved, transformed and savored.
And for a complete different take on ‘Strong Cheese’ read Fromage Fort: The Cheese That Tried To Kill Me by Francis Lam at Salon.
* we topped our mix off with a bit of Farnum Hill Semi-Dry Cider.