A relaxed friendly hands-on cooking holiday in the Dordogne, France
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(Auvergne Cheesy Mash)

I adore mashed potato.  In fact, I could eat a whole saucepan of the stuff, then have it again for dessert.  But hell, I’m a ‘carbs’ man, so I would like mash, right?  However, there is one dish that beats mash hands-down, and that’s, well, cheesey mash!

I was on holiday last year with Lucy and Jenny (no mean mash fanatic, herself) in the pretty southern town of Millau (pronounced ‘meeoe’) when we stumbled upon one of that region’s numerous and very popular summer night-markets. 

This wasn’t just any night-market, but one set up in honour of the greatest contribution to the high carb diet in living memory – Aligot (Aligot – pronounced “allygoe” is to basic mash, what chargrilled seabass is to fish-fingers, and is a gooey stringy unction of mashed potato, butter, garlic, crème fraîche and a local cheddar-like cheese).

The market stalls themselves encircled the town square, which was itself packed with acres of trestle tables and bench seats.  Seated cheek by jowel are hundreds of locals – no tourist area this – noisily chattering and munching away at piles of aligot and wild boar sausage.

It took a while to suss out the system whereby a brand new empty plate turned into a full one, but once mastered, it was easy; we each got into line at one of the stalls and gathered great tubs of aligot, sausage, chargrilled saddle of rabbit, barbecued chicken, crusty bread, gravy and mustard. 

Then, it was off to one of the wine stalls where we purchased a pre-opened bottle of local red and were given plastic cups to drink it from.

Once finally shouldered onto a bench we consumed one of the finest outdoor meals I have ever eaten – then went back for more.

Later, a reviving stroll netted more goodies in the form of freshly made crèpes and doughnuts, eaten on the ‘fly’.  Finally, defeated, we retreated to a bar and, beer in hand, watched the locals promenading into the early hours – fantastic!  

Serves six

1.5kg (3lb – about 20) medium floury potatoes, peeled and quartered
8 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 glass dry white wine
100g (4oz) unsalted butter
25g (1oz) plain flour
4 tbsp crème fraîche
500g (1lb) cheddar cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Boil the potatoes in salted water until tender.  Turn off the heat, drain, then return them to the hot pan to dry out for five minutes.  Mash. 

Gently sweat the garlic in a little olive oil until translucent, then pour in the wine and turn up the heat.  Allow to reduce until there is hardly any liquid left in the pan. 

Reduce the heat and melt in the butter. 

Stir in the flour and allow to ‘cook-out’ for a minute. 

Add the mashed potato, crème fraîche and cheese, then stir over a medium heat until well combined. 

Continue to cook until the whole lot turns into a gloopy stringy mass which bubbles volcanically, then season with plenty of salt and pepper. 

Serve with the best farmers sausages you can find, some onion gravy and mustard.











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5 Day/5 Night Cooking Courses Include:

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    Some of the things you'll be doing on the cooking course:

    Learn how to cook pastries, breads and soups

    Select and prepare the best fish and shellfish

    Butcher common joints of meat

    Cook classic French and Italian sauces

    Construct modern dressings

    Master the art of stylish contemporary food presentation