Aligot is a delightful French dish from the Auvergne that combines mashed potatoes with cheese, resulting in a rich, creamy, and stretchy texture. It's a comfort food that's perfect for colder weather. When I was seventeen, I joined some French friends from Rouen for a walking holiday in the Gorges du Tarn in southern France. In one small town (or was it a village), we ate dinner in a local cafe and were puzzled by the slowness of the service - not just for us but all diners. Just before the main course was served, the cook appeared with what looked like an old tin bath filled with a white, steaming cheesy dough. He held a pair of wooden tongs in one hand and stopped at every table to pull a stringy strand of 'dough' from the tin bath, which he cut off with a pair of scissors. He then cut off a lump of 'dough' onto the head of each male at each table while making a big speech in French, which I did not understand. I asked my friends to explain, but they had not understand his thick southern French accent either, so I never did find out what was behind this strange ritual. All they could tell me was that the 'dough' was called Aligot. At least, I learned the reason for the slow service, which was to get all diners ready for the Aligot experience.
- Large saucepan
- 1 kg Maris Piper potatoes (peeled and chopped into chunks)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 300 ml creme fraiche (or double cream)
- 125 g butter
- 150 g grated cheese (Tomme d'Auvergne or Tomme de Laguiole)
Seasoning - to taste
- 1 tsp rock salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Boil the potatoes in a large sauce of salted water until they are tender. Drain the water and return the potatoes to the pot.
- Add most of the minced garlic, creme fraiche (or double cream), and butter to the saucepan with the potatoes. Mash everything together until smooth.
- Place the pot over low heat and slowly add the grated cheese while stirring continuously in one direction.
- Keep stirring until the cheese is completely melted and the mixture has a smooth and stretchy texture.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Mix some of the remaining garlic some creme fraiche and serve separately as a dip
Serve the aligot as a side dish with sausages, grilled meats, or as a comforting meal on its own. Enjoy this creamy and cheesy French delicacy!