Mashed potatoes and tomme fraiche: the two ingredients of aligot
This article follows a recipe I just posted about how to make tomme fraiche (see recipe).
Tomme fraiche comes from the making of Cantal, Salers or Laguiole, cheeses from the center of France (Massif Central). Those cheeses are made from fermented and pressed curd, aged for several months. Tomme fraiche comes from the first steps of these cheeses, just before salting and ripening. The word fraiche means fresh in French (because this cheese is not aged!). It is fermented long enough (a few hours) to have good meltability and elasticity properties (like mozzarella).
Aligot is another specialty from the center of France. It is basically mashed potatoes mixed with butter or creme fraiche and… tomme fraiche! The metltability of the cheese gives the mashed potatoes a fondue-like texture and light acidity which makes aligot absolutely delicious!
Then, to make aligot you just need potatoes and tomme fraiche. While it is relatively easy to find tomme fraiche in France (you can order it at cheesemongers), this is not that simple in the US. If you buy some in France be however careful with the use-by date. This cheese does not suffer too long storage. Its meltability decreases with time. As I live in the US and as I am interested in cheese, I thought it would be a fun challenge to make the tomme fraiche at home.
I first started with a bit of research. Of course you won’t find any tomme fraiche recipe online… I had to do some research. First, I found from what type of cheeses it was made, which gave me clues on how to make the curd. Then I guessed that its meltability was related to its acidity (as for the mozzarella cheese). I tried twice before being able to succeed! I share with you the recipe in here!
In this article I explain how to make aligot once your cheese is ready. It is fairly simple.
Test the stretching property of your tomme fraiche
In theory fresh curd is elastic when its reaches a specific acidity (pH ranges between 5.0 and 5.3). You can taste it, it should be slightly acidic. If you have a pH-meter you can use it to test the acidity of your cheese but it is not necessary to buy one. To test that your cheese stretches properly you can do an easy test.
Test if the curd is stretchable
Take a small piece of curd and put it into boiled water for about 1-2 minutes. Then take the piece of cheese into your fingers and try to stretch it. Pour it into the water again and stretch it again. You should be able to stretch it into a long string (see picture above). If you are able to stretch the cheese, it is ready for aligot!
Ingredients (for 4 persons)
- 250g of tomme fraiche (recipe)
- 100g of butter
- ~100g of crème fraiche OR ~100g of milk
- 1kg of potatoes (mealy, like Bintje)
- pinch of salt
- a big pot with a thick bottom (to keep the mashed potatoes warm)
- a spatula
30-40 minutes (does not include tomme fraiche preparation)
The recipe is fairly simple. You make mashed potatoes. Then you warm it up and add the tomme fraiche while strring gently and constantly to stretch the cheese.
- Peel the potatoes.
- Drop the potatoes in cold water and let it boil on the stove with a pinch of salt.
- When the water is boiling, wait for about 15 minutes (depending on the size of the potatoes). You can test that the potatoes are cooked with a knife (the knife should sink into the potato without any resistance).
- Drain the potatoes.
- Mash the potatoes and add creme fraiche and/ord butter to make it smooth and homogenous.
Homemade tomme fraiche
- Cut the tomme fraiche into fine slices (about 2mm width). Having fine slices allows the cheese to melt more easily.
- Warm up the mashed potatoes on the stove while stirring (to homogenize the temperature). Taste the temperature.
- Add the cheese in two or three times. Always stirr very softly, by incroporating the cheese and trying to stretch the cheese.
Mashed potatoes and aligot
- Stretch the preparation by rising up your spatula and continue stirring.
- When all the cheese is incroporated and the mash is very stretchy, it’s ready to eat! Do not wait for serving. You can eat it with a pork sausage as in the tradition, or any good meat or eggs.
Aligot and soft-boiled duck egg