aligot (french mashed potatoes)

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When I saw this recipe is a recent issue of Cooks Illustrated, it was immediately registered as “for special occasions only.” Seriously, I consider regular mashed potatoes fairly decadent, much less the cheese-laden variety. But then I managed to create a special occasion: Dave and I found a cheap, good bottle of Pinot Noir! In Pennsylvania even! (Don’t get me started on PA’s inane liquor laws.  Drives me. Up the. Wall.)

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This is a great recipe for learning about the chemistry of potatoes. Have you ever heard that “mashing” boiled potatoes with a mixer will result in gluey mashed potatoes? This recipe goes one step further and processes them in the food processor. The resulting texture is fascinating – very stretchy, even before any cheese is added. Then the potatoes are mixed with garlic and milk, and shredded Gruyere (for flavor) and mozzarella (for texture) are vigorously stirred in.

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I love how little changes in technique can make such a big difference in the outcome. I’m not giving up on regular mashed potatoes, but I also enjoyed the smooth texture and rich flavor of these. It’s hard to go wrong with potatoes and garlic and cheese.

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One year ago: French Chocolate Brownies

Aligot (French Mashed Potatoes) (from Cooks Illustrated)

CI note: The finished potatoes should have a smooth and slightly elastic texture. White cheddar can be substituted for the Gruyere. For richer, stretchier aligot, double the mozzarella.

My potatoes did end up too salty, so that’s something to watch out for.

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (4 to 6 medium), peeled, cut into ½-inch-thick slices, rinsed well, and drained
table salt
3 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1-1½ cups whole milk
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
Ground black pepper

1. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan, add water to cover by 1 inch and add 1 tablespoon salt. Partially cover the saucepan and bring the potatoes to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the potatoes are tender and just break apart when poked with a fork, 12 to 17 minutes. Drain the potatoes and dry the saucepan.

2. Transfer the potatoes to a food processor; add the butter, garlic, and 1½ teaspoon salt. Pulse until the butter is melted and incorporated into the potatoes, about ten 1-second pulses. Add 1 cup milk and continue to process until the potatoes are smooth and creamy, about 20 seconds, scraping down the sides halfway through.

3. Return the potato mixture to the saucepan and set it over medium heat. Stir in the cheeses, 1 cup at a time, until incorporated. Continue to cook the potatoes, stirring vigorously, until the cheese is fully melted and the mixture is smooth and elastic, 3 to 5 minutes. If the mixture is difficult to stir and seems thick, stir in 2 tablespoons of milk at a time (up to ½ cup) until the potatoes are loose and creamy. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

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Comments

  1. rebekka says:

    Those look OUTRAGEOUSLY good. And I LOVE the fact that you consider finding a bottle of wine a special occasion. You know how to live!

  2. Manggy says:

    Oh darn. Maybe my hand mixer would work? (I doubt the blender will, hee hee.) Looks so beautifully silky! :)

  3. Carrie says:

    So interesting! These look amazing. That different texture looks crazy good!!

  4. Erin says:

    I actually bought Gruyere cheese for a special meal we’re having this weekend, and I will be sure to use this recipe when I make them tomorrow!

  5. Chris says:

    Interesting how the idea is to make them gluey – which is usually what you are trying to avoid (leave it to the French to say “I meant to do that)!
    Anyway, can’t go wrong with potatoes and cheese in my book.

  6. Wow. That looks amazingly delicious… and chris is right – potatoes and cheese always work.

  7. Michele says:

    Wow! These look fantastic!!

  8. Erin says:

    Ooh, these look so creamy and rich. The food processor looks like it made it so smooth!

  9. justine says:

    wow those look absolutely amazing!

  10. Mary Ellen says:

    These look amazing! I’m totally with you on the liquor laws in PA – we make frequent trips to NJ for wine.

    Love your wine holder. I have one just like it that my dad just brought us back from Vietnam.

  11. Bunny says:

    My hubby is a mashed potato nut, I’ll have to try these for him!

  12. Jamie says:

    I live in France and have eaten Aligot often, but never ever made it. Yours are so incredible looking, just perfect! I’ll borrow this recipe, thank you very much!

  13. Caitlin says:

    This recipe really intrigued me when I got that issue as well – good to know it works like CI promised! Might have to give it a try now.

  14. emiglia says:

    I’m gonna make these tonight using goat’s cheese (spring and all…), although I’m keeping the Gruyere version in mind for wintertime… I can imagine these being perfect at Christmas.

    Traditionally, they’re made with Tomme… which makes me wonder if that cheese is available in the States? Anyway, thanks for the recipe… I’ll let you know how it goes.

  15. bridget says:

    emiglia – According to the article accompanying this recipe, tomme is made from unpasteurized milk and aged less then 60 days – that means it’s banned by the US government.

  16. Laurie Harrington says:

    I have made this recipe three times. My issue of Cook’s Illustrated now has splashes on its pages as proof. This is my husband’s all-time favorite. If you haven’t tried it, must do!

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