The French Dish Jacques Pépin Makes To Use Up Leftover Cheese

It's a scenario cheese lovers are very familiar with: odds and ends of cheeses filling a drawer in the fridge. Perhaps there is a small wedge of gruyère bought for a quiche rolling around a drawer, along with some pre-sliced Swiss cheese for ham and cheese sandwiches. Taking up space next to them is a small chunk of blue cheese. It would be a shame to not use these bits and pieces of tasty fromage, but you don't really feel like making another charcuterie board. There's an additional option to transform those odds and ends into something so delicious that famed French chef Jacques Pépin uses it himself. In fact, Pépin is known for not letting food go to waste.

Pépin wasn't the first one to incorporate leftover cheeses into a new dish. He learned from his father, who would collect bits of cheese, such as Camembert, Brie, Swiss blue, and goat cheese, according to Food & Wine, and transform them into a dish that would give them new life.

Transformed cheese

Combining the cheese with leek broth, white wine, and crushed garlic, Pépin's father would marinate the cheese in a ceramic pot in the cellar for about 7 to 10 days to make a French cheese dish called fromage fort, per Food & Wine. (Translated to strong cheese, fromage fort packs a punch, per Martha Stewart). Perhaps you don't have a cellar or feel like eating cheese that has been allowed to get funky for over a week. Pépin's late wife, Gloria, concocted a quicker, fresher version of fromage fort, according to Food & Wine. Her version swaps the cellar for the kitchen and a terrine for a food processor.

To make the updated version of fromage fort, take ½ pound of odds and ends of cheese, a garlic clove, ¼ cup dry white wine, salt, and pepper. A food processor is then used to blend the ingredients to form a cheese spread that can be served hot or cold, according to Food & Wine. Culture says the modernized version of fromage fort relies on the variety of cheeses and seasonings blended together to give the cheese spread its flavor versus the fermentation process. Alton Brown's updated fromage fort uses fresh parsley and butter to add some flavor in addition to the cheese. Compared to the Pépin family fromage fort that would ferment in the basement for more than a week, Brown's is served immediately, or for a firmer texture, it is refrigerated for an hour.