Pommes Aligot is more than just a cheesy twist on mashed potatoes. This incredibly magical blend of potatoes and cheese was born in the French region of Midi-Pyrénées, and it is a celebration of regional cheese, served on special occasions alongside sausage or roasted meat. It's traditionally made with Tomme de Laguiole or Tomme d'Auvergne cheese, although these fresh soft cheeses known for their melting qualities are pretty hard to find outside their tiny cities in the south of France.
While not as traditional, pommes Aligot can also be made with other melting cheeses like Gruyère and mozzarella and doesn't require more than a strong arm for mixing and a hearty appetite.
The Best Potato for Pommes Aligot
French potatoes, much like French cheese, wine, and bread, are prized for their flavor. Early growing spring varieties are loved for their thin skin and fine texture. While French potato varieties are easily grown in your home garden and likely readily available from your local farmers markets, you'll have trouble finding these early growers into the fall. For pommes Aligot we're using Yukon Gold potatoes for their delicate texture and creamy, buttery flavor.
Peel, chop, and boil the potatoes as you would any potatoes for mashing, until tender. Instead of mashing with a hand-held potato masher, process the potato into a smooth purée quickly and efficiently in a few quick pulses of the food processor.
Have a ricer or food mill? Either of these tools would be ideal for puréeing the potatoes to light and airy perfection.
Aligot is pronounced "ah-lee-go"
The Best Cheese for Pommes Aligot
To really understand the Aligot, you have to understand the Aveyron region of France. Situated in the South of France on the L'Aubrac plateau, Aveyron (and specifically Laguiole, where Aligots namesake cheese hails from) are known for their cows. Aubrac cows are prized for their dairy. Aubrac milk is exceptionally nutty with a flavor often compared to hazelnut, and is used to make Laguiole cheese traditionally used in Aligot.
While pommes Aligot should really be made with Tomme de Laguiole or Tomme d'Auvergne cheese, both of these are hard to find outside of France. So instead, we're using a combination of Gruyère for its melty texture and nutty flavor and fresh mozzarella. I've had the best results with the tiny balls of fresh mozzarella that you can often find in the deli department of the grocery store.
Buy the best-quality cheese you can afford and be sure to stay away from the pre-shredded cheeses for this dish.
The Ultimate Cheese Pull
You'll rarely see a photo of pommes Aligot that isn't a wooden spoon poised above the pot of potatoes with a long, luscious pull of cheesy potatoes between the two. This is as much an iconic photo moment as it is a good doneness indicator. Only when the cheese is fully incorporated and melty can you pull the pommes up out of the pot. Be prepared for the potatoes to lose the stringy magic as they cool.
You can keep pommes Aligot in slow cooker set to WARM if you want to serve your masterpiece of potatoes warm and with a little show of luxury for serving.
How To Make Pommes Aligot (Cheesy Whipped Potatoes)
What You Need
4 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 pounds grated Gruyère cheese
1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, drained and grated
Freshly ground white or black pepper
Food processor, food mill, potato masher, or ricer
- Cook the potatoes: Peel the potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes. Place the potatoes in a 4-quart pot and cover with cool water. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover and reduce the heat slightly to maintain a simmer. Cook the potatoes until are fork-tender, about 15 minutes.
- Purée the potatoes: Drain the potatoes and cool for about 5 minutes. Use a food mill, potato masher, or ricer to finely mash the potatoes, or pulse (but not process) the potatoes into a fine purée in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Return the puréed potatoes to the pot.
- Add the butter and cream: Return the pot to medium heat. Add the butter and cream and stir until melted.
- Beat in the cheese: Add the Gruyère and mozzarella and beat into the potatoes with a wooden spoon. Put some muscle into it until the cheese and potatoes come together and have a stringy, elastic texture.
- Season and serve: Season with salt and pepper as needed and serve warm.
- Make ahead: Cook and purée the potatoes up to 2 days in advance. Reheat over low heat until warm before adding the cream and butter and finally the cheese.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.