Potatoes with a flair for the French

July 07, 2009|By LYNNE ROSSETTO KASPER / Scripps Howard News Service

Dear Lynne: Last spring I had one of those dishes you can't forget. In this French restaurant in Canada they whipped potatoes in a copper pot right at the table. I remember a lot of cheese went into them, and butter and nutmeg. They tasted garlicky, too, and the waiter said something about turnips. Does this sound at all familiar? Would you know some kind of recipe? -- Carl from Hoboken

Dear Carl: You had a takeoff on aligot, a whipped-potato dish from the Auvergne region of central France. Turnips would be the takeoff; usually, aligot is a whipping together of potatoes, garlic, butter, homemade lard, with lots of fresh local cheese, like cantal. Do this with freshly dug potatoes coming into the market soon. Serve aligot with just a salad and you have a very good supper. If meat is essential, aligot is perfection with roast chicken and all kinds of grilled dishes.


This recipe should come close to what you tasted.


(Aligot with Turnips)

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Working Ahead: You can mash the turnips and potatoes several hours ahead and keep them in a covered pot. Shortly before serving, heat them and blend in the cheese.

4 quarts of boiling salted water in a 6-quart pot
1-1/2 pounds russet potatoes (these are the baking potatoes with thick brown skins), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 pound turnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
6 to 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 to 1/3 cup warm milk
8 to 12 ounces fresh cow cheese like fromage fraiche, or a nutty-tasting cantal or gruyere cheese, shredded
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Have the water at boil and add the turnips and potatoes. Cook 10 minutes, or until each is tender, but not falling apart. Drain gently in a colander and put them back in the hot pot to get rid of excess moisture.

Over medium heat, with a wood spatula mash the potatoes and turnips with the butter, garlic and milk until well-blended. At this point, you could cover the mixture, set it aside for several hours and finish the recipe shortly before serving.

Gradually work the cheese into the hot potatoes, adjusting the heat so the potatoes don't scorch. Season the mix with nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Serve the potatoes hot.

(Lynne Rossetto Kasper hosts "The Splendid Table," American Public Media's weekly national show for people who love eat, and is the co-author of "The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper: Recipes, Stories, and Opinions." Ask questions and find Lynne, recipes and station listings at or 800-537-5252.)

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