In addition to having a love for bread, I absolutely LOVE cheese. I usually have four or five varieties of cheese in my fridge. Unfortunately, I seem to be the only one in my family that eats as much cheese as I do, and I can’t eat it all, and thus, it gets old. It used to be that I would just throw out my old cheese, but in the early days of the pandemic lockdown, I learned to make an incredible cheese spread from the venerable chef, Jacques Pepin, called fromage fort or “strong cheese.”
Basically, fromage fort is a mixture of different cheeses that is combined with a little white wine and a little garlic, and optionally, you can add spices if you like. I spike mine with coarse black pepper and hot chili pepper powder to give the spread a little heat kick. It is SO easy to make! Here’s a quick recipe (scale it up as necessary):
1/2 lb leftover cheese
1-2 cloves garlic (peeled and crushed)
1/4 cup white wine
1 tsp coarse black pepper
Salt to taste*
*Cheese is salted, so you shouldn’t need it, but add some if you don’t think it’s salty enough.
Cube up the cheese, then add all ingredients to a food processor with the blade attachment installed. Mix for 30 seconds or so until the mixture is smooth. Add white wine in small amounts to get the texture to a really thick batter. Once it’s done, pack the mixture into small jars or containers (I like to use 4-6 oz jars).
All that said, it’s all about taste. I tend to like a lot more garlic in mine. And with the batch I made this morning, part of which is in the picture above, I used a combination of marsala and chardonnay. And because I wanted a bit of heat, I added some hot-hot South Indian chili pepper powder. At least in my mind, there aren’t any rules with fromage fort. Besides, every time I make it, it’s different because I use different cheeses
How Do You Use Fromage Fort?
Lots of different ways! The more common thing is to spread it on slices of bread and crackers. But you can spread it on bread and broil it, and even make grilled cheese sandwiches with it (though I also add a slice of cheese to make it really gooey). I also add it to cream-based sauces to give my sauces a little cheesy edge.
Another thing I love to do with it is to make Croque Monsieur, which is basically the French version of a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. I spread the fromage fort on a large slice of bread, place a slice of ham on top of that, then put a slice of Swiss cheese on top of the ham, and top it with a slice of tomato. I bake this in a 400-degree oven for 10 minutes. Wow!