Pommes Aligot – the Most Cheesy of All Mashed Potatoes

To say that people “like” the combination of cheese and potatoes is a gross understatement of the power and popularity of this combination. This is a marriage made in heaven or, more precisely, in France. Pommes aligot is the best option for cheesy mashed potatoes. Far from being just a cheese flavored potato, it could almost be called “potato cheese”.

Pommes aligot comes from Aubrac, a once volcanic region in south-central France. It’s a cross between mashed potatoes and fondue, rich, supple and soothing.

The phrase “dangerously sugary” gets around a lot, especially with this cartoon cheetah, but this is where it really rings true. This dish consists of 43% cheese by weight. It has so much cheese in it that it behaves like cheese. The energy of cheese is so strong that I’m afraid to let my lactose intolerant boyfriend look at the dish, much less eat it.

Making aligo is not technically difficult, but it will train your hand. Unlike most mashed potatoes, this recipe involves a ton of stirring to melt the cheese as well as stimulate starch release to ensure you get the most stretchy aliquot. (Stretching is a very important part of aligo; there are even aligo stretching competitions .)

In addition to potatoes and cheese, you will need some salted butter and heavy cream, as well as a few cloves of garlic. It is important to fully cook the potatoes until they almost fall apart with light pressure. Undercooked potatoes will result in a grainy aliquot. (This happened to me the first time I made it. It was still good, but it could have been better!) You also need to make sure you don’t rinse the potatoes after they’ve cooked because, again, you want as much starch as possible. The goal is a tight, dense mass of potatoes that can hold almost 100% of its weight and cheese.

There are many good aligo recipes, and I made mine by combining this one from Serious Eats and this one from Tasting Table . The choice of cheese is up to you. Pommes aligot is traditionally made from Tomme d’Auvergne, but this cheese is quite hard to come by in the United States. A mixture of alpine cheeses works well. I took half Gruy√®re, a quarter Swiss, and a quarter raclette; Conte and Fontina will do as well. (The tasting table just makes half gruyere and half mozzarella, which sounds good too.)

Pommes Aligo

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds peeled and quartered Yukon golden potatoes
  • Salt
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 stick salted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 1/2 pounds Alpine cheeses, at least half of which is Gruyere cheese, grated

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. (Try it to see if it tastes good and is salty.) Peel the garlic and add it to the water along with the potatoes. Cook until the potatoes fall apart when lightly pressed with the back of a spoon. Drain the potatoes (and garlic) and run them through a rice cooker or food mill. Don’t try to stretch your hands. This is one dish that calls for potatoes to be as smooth as possible.

Place the saucepan over medium-low heat. Add cream and stir until completely absorbed. Add the oil and stir it in, stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the potatoes have set and begin to stick together into a large lump. Add handfuls of cheese, stirring until completely melted before adding more. Once all the cheese has been added, keep stirring until the aligo is stretched like mozzarella. Serve immediately in warm bowls.

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