Cervelle de Canut (Herbed Cheese Spread)
The author Bill Buford spent years in Lyon, France, researching French cuisine for his book “Dirt.” He picked up this recipe from a modern Lyonnaise bouchon, Le Bouchon des Filles. The simple, savory mixture of fromage blanc with shallots, garlic and other seasonings is a mainstay in Lyon, where it often appears with the cheese course. (Or it may be the cheese course.) The name means silk worker's brain, a mysterious reference to the days when silk weaving made Lyon rich. This version is set apart by its lavish use of fresh herbs.
- Serves: 2 persons
- 1pound fresh, whole-milk, full-fat fromage blanc (ideally from a farm)
- 1small shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2tablespoons chopped fresh herb leaves (such as dill, tarragon, chives, chervil and parsley)
- 1 ½teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1teaspoon red wine vinegar
- ½small garlic clove
- ¾teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
- ¼teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more as needed
Step 1If using farm-fresh cheese, line a sieve with two layers of cheesecloth and place over a bowl. Add the fromage blanc and let it strain at room temperature for at least 3 to 4 hours to eliminate excess liquid.
Step 2Combine fromage blanc with all remaining ingredients in a food processor and blend until the shallots are finely chopped and the texture begins to resemble cottage cheese, about 30 seconds.
Step 3Empty into a bowl and whisk; season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve chilled; eat with a spoon or serve with baguette.