Aligot: in this Auvergne regional French potato dish the potatoes are not sautéed as in Truffade but mashed. It lines your stomach like a four-tog duvet against the winter cold.
Mashed potato doesn't really cover it as a description: although the potatoes are mashed, combined with a local cheese... a fresh 'Tomme'. You work the potato and other ingredients together until it's stretchy. It's known rather romantically in France as the 'ribbon of friendship'.
In Aubrac and Aurillac (where they have an annual street theatre festival) you will find it sold in the market place in huge cast iron frying pans or deep pots, lifting it again and again, displaying it's gaping trails of cheese...
1 kilo of floury potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
100g of butter
400g of fresh Tomme cheese, cut into small slices (leave it out of the fridge for at least two hours before using); up the proportion of cheese if you like it really stretchy!
200g of thick creme fraiche
Salt and Pepper to season
Boil the potatoes in salted water with the garlic cloves for 15 -20 minutes. When cooked, take out the garlic cloves.
Put the potatoes through a ricer (better than a masher as it stops the potatoes becoming too glutinous).
Keep back a little of the cooking water to obtain the correct consistency. Aligot is all about texture, it really depends on the type of potatoes you use too. It must not be too liquid or too stiff.
Then progressively add the butter, creme fraiche, cheese over a simmering flame. You must whip the ingredients together with a wooden spoon energetically, working it back and forth to aerate the mixture.
You season and can add some more crushed garlic at the end.
My pictures don't really do justice to this dish, I should have shown the elastic quality of the cheese but only had one set of hands!
Hand carved wooden spoons by Terence McSweeney.