Cheesy mash with cabbage and bacon
This recipe is based on the classic French dish Pommes Aligot, which makes the best use of British floury potatoes. It’s like a thicker, potato-based fondue or quite possibly the best mashed potatoes you’ve ever had.
Aligot is potatoes that are beaten together with cheese, butter and cream so they take on an almost elastic-like texture. The dish hails from the Auvergne region in central France and dates back to the 12th century. It was served by French monks to pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
The traditional cheese to use in the recipe is tomme fraîche de Cantal, a fresh cheese with a lactic tang. However it is quite difficult to get hold of in the UK. Elizabeth David, in her classic cookery book French Provincial Cooking, suggests subsisting Cantal with Caerphilly, as it has a similar mild flavour and melts well. I’ve chosen Cornish Yarg which, like Caerphilly, is a good melter and has a light lemony taste that goes well with the rich buttery potatoes.
I really like the addition of the crispy, salty bacon and the just-cooked hispi cabbage. However, if you want to make this dish veggie, you can leave the bacon out of the recipe. If you’re not a fan of cabbage, this can also be substituted for another winter vegetable such as kale, purple sprouting broccoli or chard.
Cheesy mash with cabbage and bacon
- 1 kg floury potatoes Maris Piper, King Edward or Desiree
- 125 g butter
- 1 bulb of garlic you will only need to use two of the garlic cloves in the recipe
- 250 ml milk
- 125 ml cream
- 300 g Cornish Yarg grated (you can substitute this for Cheshire, Caerphilly or Lancashire)
- 170 g Parmesan grated (or equivalent)
- 1 tsp salt
For the cabbage
- Olive oil
- 2 medium cabbages hispi or sweetheart are best
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 60 g breadcrumbs
- 30 g pine nuts
- 1 sprig of thyme
- 1 tsp salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 8-12 slices of streaky bacon
- Flat leaf parsley or coriander freshly chopped
- Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan/Gas mark 6. Prick the potatoes with a fork, add to a baking tray and cover with a little olive oil and salt. Roast the potatoes in the oven for at least an hour, or until the skins are crisp and brown and a knife goes through the flesh easily. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- For the roast garlic, take the whole garlic bulb and cut the top off, so you expose the top of the garlic cloves. Put the bulb in the middle of some tin foil and add a pinch of salt and drizzle of olive oil. Wrap the bulb tightly in the tin foil, like a little parcel. Place on a baking tray, add to the oven and roast at 200°C/180°C fan/Gas mark 6 for about 25-35 minutes, or until the garlic cloves are soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- Slice each potato in half and remove the flesh from the skins. Mash the potato using a potato masher or ricer to get rid of any lumps. You can add the potato skins back to the oven for a further 15-20 minutes to crisp up.
- Cut each cabbage into quarters lengthways and drizzle with a little olive oil. Heat a griddle pan on a fairly high heat. Fry the cabbage for a few minutes each side, so you get some nice char marks. Add the cabbage to a ovenproof dish, drizzle with some more olive oil, the lemon juice, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add a splash of water to the the dish and cook in the oven at 200°C/180°C fan/Gas mark 6 for about 15-20 minutes. You want the cabbage to be cooked, but still have a some bite.
- In a frying pan add the breadcrumbs, pine nuts, thyme leaves and about a tablespoon of olive oil. Fry over a medium heat, stirring regularly so the nuts and breadcrumbs become evenly toasted. Remove from the heat and add the lemon zest.
- Fry the bacon in a pan or add to a baking tray and cook in the oven at 200°C/180°C fan/Gas mark 6 for 15-20 minutes. You want the bacon to be very crispy.
- In a saucepan add the mashed potatoes, butter and cream. Squeeze the two garlic cloves out of their skins and add to the pan. Place the pan on a medium heat and stir regularly with a wooden spoon to incorporate all the ingredients. Add the grated cheeses to the pan a little at the time, beating the mixture after each addition. Season to taste with salt and stir again to make sure you get rid of any lumps. The mash is ready when it is smooth and thick with a slight elasticity to it.
- To serve, remove the cabbage from the oven and top with the fried breadcrumb mixture. Spoon the mash onto plates or add to a large serving dish. Top with the crispy bacon and finish with a scattering of chopped flat leaf parsley or coriander. You could also top the mash with some of the fried potato skins to provide some extra crunch.