Potted Cheese

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

potted cheese used to mean, and still sometimes does mean, a pounded mixture of more than one cheese, or of a cheese with other added ingredients, covered and sealed with a layer of clarified butter. This was an example of the well-established old technique of potting. Graham (1988) observes that British potted cheese (like the somewhat similar fromage fort of France) could be ‘an excuse for using up odds and ends of stale cheese’; but that versions using fresh cheese have appeared in recipe books since the mid-18th century, and that those calling for mace as a flavouring (along with the standard ingredients, butter, and sherry or other wine) are perhaps the best. The same author has a vivid passage about the pungency of fromage fort (‘the kick it packs is quite definitely fortissimo’) and about some notable examples such as ‘Gris de Lille, popularly known as Vieux Puant de Lille (Old Stinker of Lille)’, which according to a by-law of that city may not be conveyed in a taxi. His conclusion is that the most ‘devilish’ of these preparations is that of Foudjou in the lower Ardèche, of which one specimen was kept going in a crock for 15 years.