French Mashed Potatoes with Cheese and Garlic (Aligot)

A few days ago I woke up and felt like making a spectacular dinner.  I splurged and bought 3-pounds of porterhouse and grilled it to make this amazing Italian Bistecca Fiorintina. I paired it with these delicious country-style French potatoes because I knew my mozzarella-loving-son would be in ecstasy.  Traditionally, l’aligot is made by hand in a huge pot (see photo) as the main course for village gatherings in the southern regions of France near the Pyrenees. It is extremely stringy, delicious and fun to eat. A 5-star recipe that didn’t disappoint. It wasn’t as stretchy as the photos because of the relatively modest 4-to-1 ratio of potatoes to cheese; in France it’s more like 2-to-1.

From the French countryside, a delicious variation on plain mashed potatoes.

Two of my son’s favorite foods are mashed potatoes and mozzarella, so I knew this would be a guaranteed 5-stars in his eyes. While not much work, it does make a bit of a mess requiring a food processor and making a sticky mess of a sauce pan.

Issues / Comments:

  1. I substituted Eastern White Potatoes instead of Yukon Gold, which have a similar level of starch and consistency. The main difference was my Aligot was stark white instead of slightly golden.  While it saved only $1.40 it saved for this recipe, they were already in my kitchen. The last thing I wanted was a third type of potato taking up precious shelf space in my tiny kitchen.
  2. The traditional cheese used in l’aligot is Tommes de Laguiole or Tomme d’Auvergne cheese. Chris Kimball recommends a mixture of Mozzarella and Gruyere.  I substituted Jarlsberg ($5/lb) instead of Gruyere ($15/lb).  Overall, Chris Kimball uses about half the amount of cheese called for by the famous French Cookbook Larousse Gastronomique; 8 ounces instead of 500 grams.
  3. Creme Fraiche is also commonly used, but I followed Chris Kimball’s recipe which didn’t call for it. Next time I’ll try including 100-to-200 grams.

Rating: 5-stars.
Cost: $3.50. (because I didn’t use Gruyère)
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 5:30 PM. Dinner time 6:30 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I prepare it tonight are given below:

2 pounds Yukon Gold or Eastern White potatoes
Table salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium garlic cloves
1 cup whole milk (up to 1-1/2 cups)
4-oz mozzarella cheese
4-oz Gruyère cheese; I substituted Jarlsberg today.
Ground black pepper

  1. Peel your potatoes and cut them into 1/2″-thick slices. Rinsed them well until the water runs clear, then drain potatoes in a colander.
  2. Put potato slices in large saucepan; add enough water to cover them by 1″. Add 1 tablespoon salt to water. Partially cover the saucepan with a lid and bring to a boil over high heat. Once fully boiling, fully cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes until potatoes begin to break apart when stabbed with fork. While the potatoes cook, shred your cheeses.
  3. When potatoes are tender, drain in a colander and dry your saucepan.
  4. Put potatoes to food processor; add butter (cut into 1 tablespoon chunks), and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt. Press garlic directly into food processor.  Pulse with ten 1-second until butter is melted and incorporated into potatoes
  5. Add 1 cup of milk and continue to process for 20 seconds, scraping down the sides halfway through, until the potatoes are silky and creamy.
  6. Add potato mixture back to saucepan over medium heat. Stir in cheeses in two parts until fully incorporated.
  7. Cook potatoes and stir vigorously for 5 minutes, until cheese is fully melted and mixture is silky and elastic.
  8. While mine were perfect with 1 cup of milk, Chris Kimball mentions that if the mixture is difficult to stir or is too thick, that you can add up to 1/2 cup of additional milk (2 tablespoons at a time) until it becomes loose and creamy.
  9. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

2 Responses to French Mashed Potatoes with Cheese and Garlic (Aligot)

  1. JRT says:

    Thanks for the write up. I’m trying this for the first time tomorrow night for a group of 8, fortunately all family. We’ll see how it goes!

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