Thursday, 16 December 2010

Potatoes: aligot


Aligot: in this Auvergne regional French potato dish the potatoes are not sautéed as in Truffade but mashed. Again 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) it's 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...

Here is the recipe:

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.

14 comments:

  1. this is SUCH your dish Ms:) - carbs and cheese, lots of them.

    hope you are holding on before all those Xmas and NY dinners?

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  2. Looks delicious, thanks for sharing! With all the rich and fattening food the French eat, it still amazes me at how they stay a slim nation!

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  3. Katrina: absolutely!
    I've got wonderful menus for xmas eve and New Year's.

    Blahcoocooblah: Isn't it? Strict portion control, worms and Gitanes is how they do it I reckon...

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  4. Could I use Comte instead of Tomme?

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  5. Great - this is the night for belly stoking potato dishes!

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  6. What a FANTASTIC BLOG!!!!!!!!! I'll be back!!!! CHEERS! Michele

    BTW, Are there any underground's in the Chicago area that your aware of?

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  7. Ooh - yes, I love the description of lining your stomach like a duvet!
    Gorgeous wooden servers too!
    Merry Christmas!

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  8. HI PUG: I'M SO GLADDD YOU LIKE MY BLOG!!!!!!!
    Check out my supperclub fan group site for the list of world wide supper clubs:
    http://supperclubfangroup.ning.com/page/supperclubs-by-location

    There are several in Chicago:
    Chicago:
    -Clandestino
    -X-marx
    -Yo Soy

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  9. Merry christmas to you to Lex. I'm going to have a go at gingerbread houses myself this holiday.

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  10. woh that looks seriously good - like if you ate it you wouldn't be able to move for the rest of the day from sheer contentment. Potatoes and cheese - what's not to love?!

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  11. Thanks for such a great post on Aligot. So nice to see such a nice article on one of my favourite dishes from my home!
    If I just may say, I would not use Comté to make Aligot as it won't "stretch" as nicely and Tomme cheese does have a distinctive taste and texture. But I can understand that Tomme might not be so easy to find.
    Anyway, well done on your blog, it's brilliant, it's in my RSS feeds now.
    Joyeux Noël!

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  12. Salut Justine!
    Thanks for that tip...what other cheeses would you recommend that are more easily available in the UK?

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  13. Ouh, this is a hard one! I'm not sure if Tomme de Savoie can be found more easily, but it is a good alternative. Some people also do it with Cantal (even in France). La Fromagerie in London sells all of them, including Tomme Fraiche.
    Otherwise, I have seen it made with Mozzarella (I suppose it has that same springy texture) but never tasted it. Also, with Creamy Lancashire cheese. As I don't know this cheese I really can't tell if it is a good idea or not...

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