Thursday, March 19, 2009


If you have eaten aligot (cheesy mash) in its native region, the Auvergne, you may have found it somewhat gluey. This quality comes from the beating it has received in the pan, as the cook has combined the mashed potato and the cheese, over heat. The process releases a good deal of starch.

It is not unpleasant, and can be comforting. But if you want to avoid it, you can warm through the mixture in the oven.

The quantity of cheese may seem high. I often use more than this. For 2.

4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 garlic clove
50g butter
200g Cantal or similar cheese (Cheddar is fine)
Salt, pepper

Put the potatoes and garlic into lightly salted, cold water in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and simmer until soft. Drain, and allow to steam for a minute or two.

Heat the oven to gas mark 7/220C. Warm a gratin dish in it.

Put the butter into the hot saucepan. Pass the potato and garlic through a mouli-legumes into the pan (or slip the garlic from its skin, and mash it and the potato with a masher). Stir in the butter until melted. Stir in the cheese.

Tip the mixture into the gratin dish, cover with foil, and give it 10 minutes in the oven to warm through.


Claudine from the Cantal in France said...

Dear oh dear...
Cantal or Cheddar may be fine a "cheesy mash", but are really quite unsuitable for aligot, which requires tomme fraiche.
This is just-pressed curd, obtained from newly fermented milk.
When matured, the tomme is used to make Cantal cheese.
Using Cantal to make aligot is akin to using parsley instead of coriander when making a curry.

Nicholas Clee said...

I should change the title of this post. Thank you, Claudine.

Elizabeth David gives the authentic Tomme de Cantal, and adds that you should not confuse it with Cantal proper. But then she writes - you may want to look away now, Claudine: "I find that Caerphilly . . . serves the purpose very well. A mild and unmatured Lancashire would also be suitable."

You have to make allowances: David was writing at a time (the 1950s) when French cheese were sparsely available in Britain. Tomme remains hard to find.

Claudine from the Cantal in France said...

I have that Elizabeth David book and I agree that Caerphilly would indeed be a good substitute for tomme du Cantal.
I am lucky in that I can buy fresh tomme at the village market here in the Cantal, as well as the best selection of regional cheeses, mature Cantal, Salers AOC and my particular favourite Cab├ęcou de Rocamadour!

Freshly-made aligot is also sold at the market! Were I to make some, I would double your suggested amount of garlic...

Nicholas Clee said...

I envy you. I wish I were back in France now.

Cabecou is my favourite too. I used to spend summers in Carennac, in the Lot, where the local shop stocked the best Cabecou I have ever tasted.