Aligot is a dish traditionally made in L’Aubrac (Aveyron, Cantal, Lozère, Midi-Pyrénées) region in southern Massif Central of France made from melted cheese blended into mashed potatoes, often with some garlic. This fondue-like dish from the Aveyron department is a common sight in Auvergne restaurants.
Traditionally made with the Tomme de Laguiole or Tomme d’Auvergne cheese, aligot is a French country speciality highly appreciated in the local gastronomy with Toulouse sausages or roast pork. Other cheeses are used in place of Tomme, including mozzarella and cantal. The Laguiole cheese imparts a nutty flavour.
Aligot is made from mashed potatoes blended with butter, cream, crushed garlic, and the melted cheese. The dish is ready when it develops a smooth, elastic texture. While recipes vary, the Larousse Gastronomique gives the recipe as 1 kg potatoes, 500 g tomme fraîche, Laguiole, or Cantal cheese, 2 garlic cloves, 30 g butter, salt, pepper.
This dish was originally made using bread by monks, who prepared it for the pilgrims on the way to Santiago de Compostela who stopped for a night in that region. Potatoes were substituted after their introduction to France. Today, it is enjoyed for village gatherings and celebrations as a main dish. Aligot is still cooked by hand in Aveyron, at home as well as in street markets. Aligot is traditionally served with Auvergne red wine.
Aligot - Mashed Potatoes with Garlic and Cheese
- 900 g potatoes, peeled and cubed
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground white pepper
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups crème fraiche <em>, substitute equal parts sour cream and heavy cream</em>
- 1 clove garlic, crushed but kept intact
- 3 cups grated tasty cheese <em>, substitute good-quality sharp cheddar</em>
- Boil the potatoes for 20 minutes, until they turn tender and drain them. Mash them with a potato masher and vigorously mix in the salt, pepper, and butter for about 2 to 3 minutes, until the potatoes fluff up a bit. Set them aside in the pan for a moment.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the crème fraiche and garlic to just steaming. Remove the garlic and pour the steaming crème fraiche into the mashed potatoes and transfer the pan of potatoes to the stove-top over low heat. Using a sturdy wooden spoon, beat the crème fraiche into potatoes.
- Raise the heat to medium and beat in the cheese, ½ cup at a time. Continue beating the mixture over the heat until it forms a smooth, velvety texture, about 10 minutes. Pour onto warm plates and serve immediately.
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