Monday, February 22, 2016

Aligot (or French Cheesy Potatoes (or How I Broke My Blender This Weekend))

Well well well.  It's my first entry of the new year and already winter in Chicago has come and gone and come back but this time with  more snow and more wind and Oprah's new commercials proclaiming her love of bread.

I haven't been able to cook anything as I have been on touring with a show for Second City Theatricals, performing in glorious gourmet havens like Findlay, Ohio (of the Dietsch Brothers Ice Cream fame) and San Diego (land of fish tacos).  The best stop so far was getting to come home to Seattle to see my family and friends and to eat as much as per diem would allow me to.  And on my final night there, we discovered an incredible new gem: Seven Beef - a Seattle Steak Shop.  They source whole, grass-fed cows from Heritage meats in Washington and use "the entire beast" on the menu.  Because I had already run out of per diem skrilla (redundant? (correct spelling of "skrilla"?)), I ordered none of the beast.  Instead I ordered the aligot.  BEST. DECISION. EVER.

Look how happy we all are! Look how empty that bowl is!  That used to be aligot!

Our patient server explained that aligot is not actually made of alligator.  And that "comte cheese" which was the only description the menu offered did not mean the cheese came free, but was a French cheese matured to perfection in the silence and darkness of special caves and when it emerges it ripens into delicate and impeccable texture.  I am pretty sure this is how Oscar Isaac was also born.
This weekend, however, allowed me time with the husband and puppy and kitchen.  And I wanted to experience the cheesy potatoey goodness all over again.

                                                                         #1: Aligot

Libation: First thing's first!  It was a belated Valentine's Day celebration so we had to break out the bubbly.  In this case, very nice pricey bubbly that Chad inherited from an overstock of booze at work.  Thanks, Writers Theatre! Veuve Clicquot Brut, or as I call it "Voo vee voo beu?" It was dry but pleasantly so.  It would go with any fine dining or probably also nachos. I don't know from expensive champagne.

Music:  Low. Cut. Connie.  We were going to their concert this weekend and wanted to rock out to it before rocking out in person.  Old school piano driven rock while still feeling funky and new? YES PLEASE.  Buy their album, "Hi Honey" immediately.

Here's my favorite of theirs. Watch it as Adam "goes full Swayze" (<-- actual lyrics).

You didn't need to see picture of me chopping up potatoes and then boiling them, did you? Good because I didn't take any.  Here is much later in the process riiight before I killed the blender.  I couldn't find the food processor.  In future, use food processor. 

Okay, we didn't have special comte Oscar Isaac cheese, but this shredded blend of Parmesan, Asiago and Fontina was on sale.

Okay, I know it doesn't look like much, but I'm telling you, there is absolutely nothing wrong with cheesy buttery mashed potatoes.  The French know what's up. Serve immediately and often.

stolen from

Aligot (French Mashed Potatoes)

2 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes (about 4-6)
1 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1-1½ cups whole milk
4 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
4 oz. Gruyere cheese, shredded
Ground black pepper

Peel, rinse, and chop the potatoes into ½-1 inch chunks.  Place the potatoes in a large saucepan or pot, and cover with water, salting lightly.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to a simmer over medium-low and cook until the potatoes are tender and easily break apart when poked with a fork, about 15-20 minutes.  Drain the potatoes and transfer to the bowl of a food processor.  Wipe out the pan for later use.

Add the butter, garlic, and salt to the potatoes in the food processor.  Pulse until the butter is melted and incorporated into the potatoes, about 10 brief pulses.  Add 1 cup of the milk through the feed tube and continue to process until the mixture is smooth and creamy, about 20 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Return the potato mixture to the now empty saucepan and set over medium heat.  Mix in the cheeses until completely melted and incorporated, stirring frequently.  The mixture will be thick and elastic.  If the mixture is too thick or difficult to stir, add the remaining ½ cup of milk a little bit at a time until the texture is loose and creamy.  Adjust seasonings as necessary with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.

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