While cooking, listen to this: Learning to Fly by Tom Petty and Heartbreakers (RIP to the man, the legend)
I so wanted to save this recipe for Thanksgiving. The idea of bringing a rich and comforting bowl of love to your favorite meat-eater's house in lieu of turkey was just the compliment my favorite holiday needed. But then, life happened. Rina and I have been swamped, as of late, between the Jewish holidays and fall kicking into full swing (though the weather would beg to differ), we haven't been able to cook and shoot as much as we wanted. Thankfully, we had this killer recipe in our back pocket. And you know what? Today might not have been Turkey Day, but it was the perfect day for a bowl of cheesy carbs. If you're in NYC, you'll know that this weather has been absolutely dreadful. Skyrocketing levels of humidity that dare any straightened piece of curly hair to withstand its wrath accompanied by the most depressing grey skies is enough to make a case of Mondays take a turn for the worse. And I know I wasn't the only one feeling a bit anxious and blue today, it seemed that all my friends and coworkers were in the same boat as I was. So, this recipe is just what the doctor called for, and if we're being honest, it's the perfect way to kick off the week.
I unofficially announce today to be Truffle Tuesday! Like everyone's favorite pop princess, Taylor Swift, truffles have been a bit over-exposed as of late (though this episode of Planet Money is fascinating). The umami mushroom extract seems to appear in everything and anything. But don't let the bad aftertaste of mediocre truffle fries leave you missing out because the truffle oil in these potatoes takes the dish to another level. When Rina riffed the idea of Truffle Aligot to me, I honestly thought it was some kind of weird Israeli dish I'd never heard of. I guess Aligot is actually French, not Hebrew (though I'm still not entirely convinced). Mind you, I had to google what Aligot was. Clearly, I'm don't wear the food sophistication pants in this blog-relationship.
But what I discovered, was the most magical thing. Cheesy mashed-potato-style fondue hailing from the L'Aubrac region in southern Massif Central of France (thank you, Wikipedia). Wow doesn't even begin to cover it. And what's even better? It takes a measly 30 minutes to make. That leaves you with more time to get cozy with a friend or more-than-friend and sip wine together while tucking into to a big bowl of comfort. I mean, look at this money shot right here. Can someone say cheese porn?
Honestly, this side dish is the perfect way to impress your friends at a potluck - they'll think you're some fancy-pants foodie, when really you just picked up a sack of potatoes and mashed them with some cheese and truffle oil. Easy as pie (or in this case, mashed potatoes). I won't spill the beans if you don't.
And, if you're feeling healthy, a side of arugula salad is the perfect compliment to a bowl of decadent deliciousness. Life's all about balance, right?
Yield: 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 5m | Cook Time: 25m | Total Time: 30m
Category: Sides, French
Source: lightly adapted from The New York Times
Special Equipment: potato masher or ricer
Note: if truffle oil isn't available near you, don't fret! This recipe is literally mashed potatoes with cheese - that alone is still some pretty heavenly stuff.
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 stick (¼ pound) cold, unsalted butter, cut into ½ cubes
½ cup cream
½ pound Comte or Gruyere cheese, grated (we used Comte)
Salt to taste
Truffle oil, to taste
Boil the potatoes: in a large pot, add the potatoes and enough water so that they are completely covered, plus one inch. Simmer the potatoes for 15-20 minutes, until they can be easily pierced with a knife.
Heat the cream: while the potatoes are simmering away, add the cream to a saucepan and place on medium-low heat. When tiny bubbles begin to form along the edges of the cream, turn the heat off - scalded cream is kind of vile.
Mash the potatoes: drain the potatoes well. We used a potato masher, so if you go this route, put the potatoes back into the pot and mash them until you get a smooth consistency without any bumps. If you use a ricer, mill the potatoes directly into the pot.
Add the remaining ingredients: to the mashed potatoes, add the butter, one half at a time, stirring until the butter is completely incorporated each time. Add the grated cheese in small amounts, stirring well until all the cheese is melted. You'll know you're there when cheesy strings form when you pull your spoon/stirring utensil away from the potatoes.* You might need to turn up the heat a little to get the cheese fully melted. Next, add the truffle oil, a few drops at a time, until you get the level of truffle that you like. Add salt to taste.
*The texture might feel, well, a bit weird. The consistency is not the fluffy one you may be used to, but these are just as tasty, if not more, even if it might feel like they're fighting you back a bit.
To serve: these are crazy good straight out of the pot, so we recommend serving immediately. Aligot is a hefty beast, so a light green salad would be a great pairing. So would a glass of white wine. Or a bottle. Who are we to judge what kind of day you had?
To keep: aligot can be kept in the fridge in a tightly-sealed container for up to 1 week. They're actually fine cold and surprisingly good at room temperature, but you can also heat them up right before you plan to serve them.