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Fromage Fort - spread the word!

It's great to be back in Burgundy! It's a frosty landscape under blue skies at present. People are busy in the vineyards and plumes of smoke rise as they prune and burn redundant branches in braziers wheeled through the rows of stick-like vines.

As I am feeling Burgundian, here is a recipe from the region. Fromage Fort is one of those little French things that sound nothing and taste great. It's a brilliant way of using up the ends of cheese in a thrifty way, turning them into something delicious. Harvest cooks do this quickly and easily without stretching their budget and so can we!

Fromage Fort

Literal translation is Strong Cheese, but better is Potted Cheese

My old friend Marie-Therese Meurgey, who was for many years Adjoint-Maire of Beaune, reminisced about this, a dish from her childhood in the Maconnais:

“You take some hard goat’s milk cheese, or a mixture of goat’s and cow’s milk cheese, and grate it. I usually put in some Gruyère, finely grated. Pour over a large glass of white wine and a little marc de Bourgogne (or brandy), add some finely chopped garlic and some soft white cheese. Use a fork to mix everything together. Leave in a bowl for 24 hours - put it somewhere cool (not as cold as a fridge as it’s going to ferment a little - but not too hot either!). And that’s all. You know, this is a wonderfully economic little dish - it’s a good way to use up the ends of cheeses, even Camembert.”

Approximate quantities: 4 tablespoons hard cow’s milk cheese such as Gruyère to 3 tablespoons hard goat’s milk cheese (you could use the small cheeses about 5 cm (2 in) in diameter that you see often in France, usually locally made and unnamed or choose a hard cheese such as Cantal mixed with some Tomme de chèvre), to 2 tablespoons fresh white soft cheese.

Marie-Thérèse emphasises that there is no correct version: the recipe accommodates whatever cheese is available and your taste, but the end result should be moist, not liquid - a spreadable paste.

This is rather like the old-fashioned English potted cheese, which was a popular way of using up the end of a Stilton or a truckle of Cheddar.

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