Cheesy mashed potatoes have been part of the all American culinary vernacular for as long as I can remember. Michel Bras has made aligot potatoes famous in restaurants. Perhaps my first exposure to making the cheesy mashed was during my first professional job at a country club making the filling for twice baked potatoes. My first introduction to aligot potatoes was at Clio when Ken asked the kitchen what they were. No one knew and he sent us home that night with the assignment of finding out what they were. Back then it was much more difficult to do culinary research. It actually took us several days to root out what the preparation of potatoes was and I believe it was several months later before we learned of Michel Bras and his "trademark" on the preparation. For those without an ability to use a search engine, aligot potatoes are a blend of potatoes and Laguiole cheese combined to create a stringy stretchy potato puree. At Michel Bras' eponymous restaurant his mother still makes the potatoes for the patrons.
Enough with the back story. The other day It became cold for a brief moment and I was struck with the craving for aligot potatoes. Unfortunately we had no laguiole or cantal cheese on hand but we did have my heartthrob, smoked mozzarella and so I went to work. The potatoes were cooked, riced and enriched with butter. When they were close to butter saturation I started folding in smoked mozzarella. The result was a potato preparation reminiscent of aligot but with a very non-traditional twist. It is extremely delicious and is now a staple in our repertoire.