When Life Gives You Leftover Cheese, Make Fromage Fort

If you love cheese, chances are you always have some leftover in your fridge, whether it's small remnants of a charcuterie platter served at a recent family gathering or shrunken chunks nearing their end that you just don't want to give up on, but can't seem to find a purpose for using. Rather than have these pieces of deliciousness end up in the trash, there's another way: Combine them into a tasty fromage fort and enjoy every last bite.

Fromage fort translates to "strong cheese" in French — it's a spreadable cheese made with the leftover dairy that's then combined with garlic, herbs, butter, and wine. The result is a creamy topper that's delicious on crackers, and can be layered on baguettes and then broiled for a different take on garlic bread. Not only is it a delicious way to use up cheese, it also helps the environment and your wallet by minimizing food waste.

Making fromage fort couldn't be easier

To make fromage fort, you need that growing collection of small cheese pieces, some additional add-ins, and a food processor. Really, any type of cheese is acceptable, from stronger options such as blue cheese to milder varieties like gouda. Rely on more pungent cheeses if you like a stronger flavor, or forgo them altogether if you prefer the spread to be mild. If you want to get really fancy, try Jacques Pépin's favorite take, which combines Swiss, camembert, brie, blue, and goat cheese. Either way, you'll want about 8 ounces total. To prepare, let the cheese come to room temperature and cube any softer options (if they aren't already) and shred the harder types so they will blend easier.

Next, you'll want to combine the mix of cheeses with roughly-chopped garlic, dry white wine (such as a Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay), and butter in a food processor. Process the mixture until it has the consistency and texture of a cream cheese. Then, place the combination in a bowl or container and mix in any minced herbs you prefer. Taste test the results, adjust the seasonings, and/or add in sea salt and ground black pepper.

Since fromage fort was created by French farmers to make use of leftover cheeses, there is no real recipe. You can play with it, adjusting the type and number of cheeses you use, as well as the amount of minced garlic and the type of herbs you wish to mix in for added flavor.

Another European cheese spread you can try

If the idea of mixing a bunch of different cheeses for fromage fort does not whet your appetite, or you are simply out of wine, you can try the German alternative: obatzda. This type of spread is made with a doubly soft cheese such as brie or camembert, along with butter and beer. It's a favorite cuisine in the southern region of Bavaria where beer drinkers like to indulge in the spread, often served with pretzels.

To create an obatzda, you will need all the ingredients listed above plus some finely chopped onions, paprika, chives, and cream cheese (or spreadable cheese wedges). Chop the camembert into small pieces and mix everything together in a bowl by hand. Alternatively, you can mix everything with a standing mixer or food processor. 

The resulting mix should be salmon pink in color (thanks to the paprika). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Like fromage fort, obatzda is a delicious way to use up leftover cheese, and a fancy option to impress friends and family at your next gathering.