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Megan Blocker

Aligot

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Gourmet's May issue was a travel special, with dishes from destinations all over the world. One of the featured dishes from Europe was aligot, a dish of potatoes whipped with Cantal or Tomme cheese, often served with grilled meats or hot sausages.

Here's the recipe Gourmet published, an aligot and horseradish gratin, and here's a standard aligot recipe.

I've never had aligot, and my question is this - is it as good as people say? A quick search revealed the following words of praise:

I first ate this mashed potato with cheese in southwest France, in the Tarn region, and it was, quite simply, the best mashed potato I've ever eaten.
Aligot (pronounced "ah-lee-go") is a dish from the Auvergne region of France. Specifically, it's from the Aveyron...and if you want to get more specific it's from the area around the town of Laguiole ("lah-yole"), which produces a cheese of the same name. Why do you care? Because this is the origin of the best thing to happen to mashed potatoes since some clever clod decided to slap a pad of butter on it.

So what's the deal? Is aligot as awesome as promised? Do you make it, or have you? Any tips? Help!


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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I have had aligot in France and it is very rich and delicious. I think it would be worth making and I was also drawn to the recipe w/the horseradish in it - I think it would add a great tang.

Some people could have problems finding Lagioule, and I have heard that Cantal can be subbed, altho it will not be as traditional.

So, yes, I think it is a regional classic and would be work trying to recreate in your kitchen. It's pretty heavy, so it would be great in the colder months with some grilled meat and a green salad - and a nice red wine, of course!

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Depends if you like mashed potatoes with melted cheese and lots of garlic in it. If yes, it's pretty darned awesome. The version of Laguiole cheese they use is the "new" cheese (most Laguiole to be eaten at the end of the meal on a cheese platter is aged; very similar to vieux Cantal and Salers).

Horseradish sounds like an interesting addition...

I spent a week in Laguiole in the summer a couple of years ago and had excellent renditions of aligot.

In any case, I've made it back at home, and it turned out well, though I used young Cantal.

I just clicked on your link - an electric beater? Perish the thought! You have to stir it and lift it and stir it and lift it...


Edited by sharonb (log)

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I just clicked on your link - an electric beater? Perish the thought! You have to stir it and lift it and stir it and lift it...

Noted!

The Gourmet recipe calls for a wooden spoon - I, too, was surprised by the Delia recipe's use of a mixer. Seems wrong for such a rustic, traditional dish.


"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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Very rich, very filling. I've never made it at home, but ate it in France a few years ago at a restaurant that featured fairly elaborate tableside service, with the server doing quite a bit of stirring and "pulling" of it before finally drizzling a rope (for want of a better word) of it onto my plate.

I refused seconds, not because I didn't like it but because a second serving would have been altogether too much food.


Can you pee in the ocean?

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I haven't had Aligot in the Auvergne, but I have had an absolutely wonderful example made by Chef Matthew Secich when he was at the Inn at Erlowest in upstate NY. They were awesome!


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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I make aligot at home, being lucky to have a Produits d'Auvergne shop nearby, with fresh tomme blanche regularly available.

It is okay to use young cantal or young laguiole, that will give you a decent cheese-and-potato purée but it cannot be named aligot. I'm not even saying a word about gruyère and I will abstain from any comment on the addition of horseradish :blink:

Because "tomme blanche" for aligot is the early, white, unsalted version of laguiole cheese, it has a rubbery, springy, airy texture, very different from the butteriness of the matured cheese. Only tomme blanche can give you that incredibly ribbony texture; you should be able to raise your wooden spoon high and drop a ribbon that doesn't break. At La Maison de la Lozère in Montpellier, they actually weave strands of aligot, braiding them onto your plate from their wooden spoons.

Aligot is not exactly mashed potatoes with cheese; potatoes act as a basis for the cheese. The cheese makes it all, there should be a good proportion of it (and of butter and cream too). It is more protein than starch. Why this thing is served as a "vegetable" with grilled sausages and ham is a mystery as long as you don't realize it's the Auvergnat way = protein with protein, sticks to the ribs and helps you climb up the puy to milk the salers cows.

An electric mixer - ouch - will only make the stuff sticky and you certainly won't have the right texture. Though I admire Delia's use of Lancashire cheese. British cheeses like cheddar, wensleydale and lancashire are closer in taste and texture to the old cantal and laguiole family than any other cheese in France.

I may raise a few eyebrows by writing this, but I think — judging by the texture of the cheese — it would be interesting to use good Monterey Jack cheese for aligot, for it is very much like tomme blanche. Couldn't be worse than cantal or gruyère, might actually be much better.

Anyway, another secret is a lot of garlic, and then more garlic. For a perfect taste, crush another garlic clove and add it just before serving.

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At La Maison de la Lozère in Montpellier, they actually weave strands of aligot, braiding them onto your plate from their wooden spoons.

Hey, cool, that's exactly where I had aligot, and where the waiters did what you describe.


Can you pee in the ocean?

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I make aligot at home, being lucky to have a Produits d'Auvergne shop nearby, with fresh tomme  blanche regularly available.

It is okay to use young cantal or young laguiole, that will give you a decent cheese-and-potato purée but it cannot be named aligot. I'm not even saying a word about gruyère and I will abstain from any comment on the addition of horseradish  :blink:

Because "tomme blanche" for aligot is the early, white, unsalted version of laguiole cheese, it has a rubbery, springy, airy texture, very different from the butteriness of the matured cheese. Only tomme blanche can give you that incredibly ribbony texture; you should be able to raise your wooden spoon high and drop a ribbon that doesn't break. At La Maison de la Lozère in Montpellier, they actually weave strands of aligot, braiding them onto your plate from their wooden spoons.

Aligot is not exactly mashed potatoes with cheese; potatoes act as a basis for the cheese. The cheese makes it all, there should be a good proportion of it (and of butter and cream too). It is more protein than starch. Why this thing is served as a "vegetable" with grilled sausages and ham is a mystery as long as you don't realize it's the Auvergnat way = protein with protein, sticks to the ribs and helps you climb up the puy to milk the salers cows.

An electric mixer - ouch - will only make the stuff sticky and you certainly won't have the right texture. Though I admire Delia's use of Lancashire cheese. British cheeses like cheddar, wensleydale and lancashire are closer in taste and texture to the old cantal and laguiole family than any other cheese in France.

I may raise a few eyebrows by writing this, but I think — judging by the texture of the cheese — it would be interesting to use good Monterey Jack cheese for aligot, for it is very much like tomme blanche. Couldn't be worse than cantal or gruyère, might actually be much better.

Anyway, another secret is a lot of garlic, and then more garlic. For a perfect taste, crush another garlic clove and add it just before serving.

hooray!! Spot on as usual, Ptipois. Wish I'd written that.

Living on the edge of the Auvergne as I do I can echo everything Ptipois says. This is a dish that MUST be made right to TASTE right.

I rarely try to make it at home since its a lot of work and I can buy it at any of our local markets. Also, of course, its served with many of the meals at the fêtes around the area.

I like the Monterey Jack idea. I'm not sure if the consistency would be right, but it should be worth a try.

Jeanne Strang has a good recipe in her "Goose Fat and Garlic" cookbook. She specifies "la tomme fraiche de Cantal" Which is really the same as tomme blanche except that its specifically from the Auvergne.

Try it!

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Hey, cool, that's exactly where I had aligot, and where the waiters did what you describe.

I thought of it. Reading your post, I was sure you were there. I do not know of any other place where they serve aligot that way.

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Jeanne Strang has a good recipe in her "Goose Fat and Garlic" cookbook. She specifies "la tomme fraiche de Cantal"  Which is really the same as tomme blanche except that its specifically from the Auvergne.

Try it!

There is actually very little difference between tomme de Cantal and tomme de Laguiole, as the differences between cantal and laguiole cheeses are not dramatically wide. Although the Rouergue and particularly the Aubrac are politically included in Languedoc, they are culturally closer to Auvergne.

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Jeanne Strang has a good recipe in her "Goose Fat and Garlic" cookbook. She specifies "la tomme fraiche de Cantal"  Which is really the same as tomme blanche except that its specifically from the Auvergne.

Try it!

There is actually very little difference between tomme de Cantal and tomme de Laguiole, as the differences between cantal and laguiole cheeses are not dramatically wide. Although the Rouergue and particularly the Aubrac are politically included in Languedoc, they are culturally closer to Auvergne.

Right as usual. If I remember correctly the main difference between Cantal, Laguiole and, for that matter, salers is the breed of cow that the milk comes from.

Politics, however, come into play. Jeanne lives in Najac which is in the Rouergue so it has to be a local variation.

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So, intrigued by aligot, I set out to make something similar a few days back. Here in Canada, there is absolutely no chance of finding tomme blanc, however I got to thinking that white cheese curd makes a nice stringy topping in poutine and might just made a suitable substitute. I did notice upthread that Ptipois mentioned that Languiole and Cantal cheese are made in a similar fashion to cheddar and the white curds I get are cheddar.

I made it up using a couple of large russet potatoes, about 8 ounces of white cheese curd, 3 cloves of garlic, a few tbsp of butter and a bit of heavy cream.

I have no idea if it tastes anything like 'real' aligot, but it sure was tasty. Smooth, garlicy and ribbony. Quite lovely. I think I'll add this to my repertoire. I picture it with a nice braised lamb shank.

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Right as usual. If I remember correctly the main difference between Cantal, Laguiole and, for that matter, salers is the breed of cow that the milk comes from.

Politics, however, come into play. Jeanne lives in Najac which is in the Rouergue so it has to be a local variation.

You're perfectly spot on. It's the cow. Salers cow for Cantal, Aubrac cow for Laguiole.

Aubrac cow looks a bit like a Jersey cow, it is a doe-eyed, light tan cow.

260px-Vache_Aubrac.jpg

Here is a Salers cow: it is of a uniform reddish brown color.

Salers.jpg

The milk of both those cows give cantal and laguiole cheeses their character.

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Right as usual. If I remember correctly the main difference between Cantal, Laguiole and, for that matter, salers is the breed of cow that the milk comes from.

Politics, however, come into play. Jeanne lives in Najac which is in the Rouergue so it has to be a local variation.

You're perfectly spot on. It's the cow. Salers cow for Cantal, Aubrac cow for Laguiole.

Aubrac cow looks a bit like a Jersey cow, it is a doe-eyed, light tan cow.

260px-Vache_Aubrac.jpg

Here is a Salers cow: it is of a uniform reddish brown color.

Salers.jpg

The milk of both those cows give cantal and laguiole cheeses their character.

Aren't they pretty? And big! I recently went to a 'cow show' near Sauvetere & watched the judging. Very interesting even though I couldn't tell why one cow got a higher rating than another.

They had the strongest coffee I've ever had in France.

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Here's an update on our aligot topic; as I am now spending a week in Cantal, today I had the opportunity to taste a terrific truffade prepared for lunch by my host, a food writer and historian who is originally from this region.

You can see this truffade below and its description here.

15072299.jpg

Truffade is a cousin of aligot; it is based on similar ingredients: potatoes and tomme blanche. A precision on tomme blanche: it is the earliest stage of Cantal cheese, precisely it is "day-old curds". The tomme that was used for today's dish was fresh and springy, with the delicate creaminess that comes with freshness and the typical sour taste that comes with that kind of cheese.

For truffade, potatoes are thinly sliced (in the burons — the old cheese farms of long ago, up in the mountains), cowherds used to have potato slicing competitions (the champion was the one who could make the thinnest slices). They are then pan-seared with aged, slightly rancid fat bacon, covered and stewed until a golden crust forms at the bottom of the pan. Then the potatoes are stirred with half their weight in tomme cut into small squares. When everything is well mixed, the contents of the pan are left on low heat until a golden and crispy cheese crust forms under the potatoes. The truffade is then ready to eat with a salad and perhaps a bit of ham.

There is another version of truffade which is made in the oven, and another one that is similar to the one I just described, but the potatoes are boiled before being pan-fried.

Let us go back to our aligot: here is a good example of the survival of culinary traditions through social celebrations.

779224839_0a1413359d.jpg

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Ptipois, great post. I love trouffade, but have never tried to cook it. You've inspired me to have a go. Wonder just how thinly I can get my mandolin to slice the potatoes. We'll see?

Maybe (because I know you'll do it better than I) you could comment upon the third great potato dish from this area, Estafinado. I've eaten it and have sort of a recipe, but I'm by no means an expert; in fact hardly an amateur when it comes to estafinado.

Last time I had it at a Troisiemes repas we had three kinds of walnut oil on the table; each made by one of the guys at our long table. All were good, but each had it's own distinctive flavor.

Looking forward to your words of wisdom.

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Dave, in this truffade we had yesterday (yum), the potatoes were not paper-thin. Sort of 2-3 millimeters thick. I didn't see my friend slicing them so I do not know whether he used a mandolin or just a knife. He has both and may very well have used either.

About estofinado: it is a highly refined type of brandade from Rouergue, and quite a different matter than our two cherished dishes aligot and truffade, since it is made particularly tricky by the use of stockfish. Stockfish has to be soaked for one week, then boiled. I do have a recipe for estofinado, but I hesitate to give it here because of the stockfish obstacle.

Basically it is soaked, boiled and shredded stockfish, pounded to a paste with mashed potatoes, garlic, eggs and lots of walnut oil. Eggs are added at two stages: chopped and hard-boiled after pounding, and then raw, just before the final addition of hot walnut oil which cooks them. Sounds unbelievably delicious.

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Dave, in this truffade we had yesterday (yum), the potatoes were not paper-thin. Sort of 2-3 millimeters thick. I didn't see my friend slicing them so I do not know whether he used a mandolin or just a knife. He has both and may very well have used either.

I do have a recipe for estofinado, but I hesitate to give it here because of the stockfish obstacle.

Basically it is soaked, boiled and shredded stockfish, pounded to a paste with mashed potatoes, garlic, eggs and lots of walnut oil. Eggs are added at two stages: chopped and hard-boiled after pounding, and then raw, just before the final addition of hot walnut oil which cooks them. Sounds unbelievably delicious.

Was only kidding & reacting to the idea of a potato slicing competition. 2-3 mm sounds pretty doable.

I can get stockfish and would love the recipe. PM, perhaps?

It really is a fantastic dish which is why I want to learn to make it. Also, if I can master it I can then try to see if any other dried fish will work so that its makable outside the Rouergue.

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I can get stockfish and would love the recipe. PM, perhaps?

It really is a fantastic dish which is why I want to learn to make it. Also, if I can master it I can then try to see if any other dried fish will work so that its makable outside the Rouergue.

Just give me a little time to lay my hands on that recipe and I'll post it here.

I think there is no substitute for stockfish. Good-quality stockfish is based on dried cod or sometimes haddock; lower-quality stockfish is the dried ling I can find in Paris, in the African market streets like Château-Rouge. For one thing, do not use salt cod, it is a totally different product.

Last night we drove to Aumont-Aubrac through the Aubrac, past Michel Bras' spaceship, and dined at a great little hotel-restaurant. A superior aligot was served along the filet de bœuf in a small silver tureen. Mmmmm.

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Oh my lord, that truffade is intense. (And I'm not even a potato fan!)

Brilliant poster for the aligot géant. Reminds me of the "fête de la tomate farcie" in a village near where I spent summers...

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My favorite poster ever was for a "choucroute dansante" in Vonnas (and no, it wasn't served at Georges Blanc's). I did not manage to take a picture of that one.

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At La Maison de Lozère in Montpellier ...

There's one of these in Paris, too ... they only serve aligot on Thursday nights. I had some last month, and it was yummy.

gallery_23897_5299_61650.jpg


Edited by jmhayes (log)

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The aligot at La Maison de la Lozère in Paris (totally unrelated to the one in Montpellier) is, IMO, the best one can have in Paris, as is anything they serve with it. Booking is mandatory.

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