Aligot, or The Best Mashed Potatoes
Just recently, I bought a new cheese for The Wedge, the cheese shop that I run at the Goshen Farmers' Market. Cantal is a buttery, cheddary cheese from the Auvergne region of France and it is named for the Cantal mountains. It has been made for thousands of years: it deserves a mention in writings by Pliny the Elder. That places it historically in the first century A.D.! It amazes me that a cheese has been in production for that long.
When I receive a tall wheel of Cantal, I'm always happy. Partially because it comes wrapped in interesting paper but also because it looks like the mountains that it's named after. I love cutting into it and pulling out that first wedge. The outside is covered with a deep grey rind that smells like a barn. But inside you will find a light yellow body with a semi-firm, buttery and mild paste. It is just a good all around cheese. As I read more about it, I discovered that the cheese is often used in a potato dish, one of the specialties of the Auvergne region. If you go to a restaurant representing that area, you will likely find it on the menu. Well, you know me...I had to try it.
I brought home some cheese and butter, Carola potatoes from Dale at White Yarrow Farm and garlic from Kate of Sustainable Greens. I put a couple of recipes together and came up with my version of Aligot. The verdict: it is the best version of cheesy mashed potatoes I have ever had! So without further ado, here is the recipe.
4 small to medium potatoes (I use Carola or Yukon Gold), peeled and diced
1 large garlic clove, peeled and minced
3 T. butter, room temperature
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 1/2 to 2 c. Cantal cheese, grated (I usually grate more than less in case I need to add more on the spot.)
Put potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Add 1 t. salt. Bring to a boil, then cook until soft, about 15 minutes. Drain. Immediately blend with a hand blender until smooth. Set pot over low heat and, with a spatula, slowly stir in garlic, butter and cream. Then fold in a 1/3 of the cheese. When melted, add another 1/3 of the cheese. And again, the last of the cheese. Keep folding and stirring until the potatoes stretch like melted cheese. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
It’s a perfect food for a holiday meal or a meal shared with friends. Enjoy!