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Aligot (Mashed Potatoes with Garlic and Cheese)

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. Research on my return revealed that it involved a special, lovely cheese called Cantal, not generally available – but after many experiments I have, I think, come up with something comparable, made with farmhouse Lancashire, which has a lovely, fresh, lactic flavour. I have created a recipe for Marinated Rump Steak specially to serve with this.


This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book One and from Delia's Vegetarian Collection.


Begin this by placing the garlic in a small saucepan with the butter, then leave it on the gentlest heat possible to melt and infuse for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, thinly pare and discard the skins of the potatoes and cut them into even-sized chunks, or cut any large potatoes into quarters and small ones into halves.

Place the potatoes in a steamer, then pour some boiling water straight from the kettle into a saucepan.

Fit the steamer over, sprinkle the potatoes with 1 level dessertspoon of salt, put a lid on and let them steam for 20-25 minutes, until tender in the centre when tested with a skewer.

After this, remove them, transfer to a large bowl (preferably a warm one) and cover with a cloth to absorb some of the steam.

Now, with an electric hand whisk, switch to slow and begin to break up the potatoes, then add the butter and garlic, some black pepper and a handful of the grated cheese. Now switch the speed to high and continue adding the cheese, a handful at a time, while you whisk.

There's a lot of cheese, but what will happen is that, as you whisk it in, the potatoes will turn translucent and glossy and, as you lift and whisk, it will form stiff, glossy peaks. When all the cheese is in, serve very quickly.

As the cheese goes in, the mixture becomes stiff and clings to the whisk, but keep going and it will part company with the whisk eventually. Also, if you want to keep it warm, place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, but don't leave it too long.


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