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Hachis Parmentier – a French meat and potato pie

Hachis Parmentier is a French meat and potato pie – like a posh shepherd’s pie but of course being French, it’s constructed with panache (and no shepherds!). The dish is named after Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, a French pharmacist, nutritionist and inventor who was instrumental in the promotion of the potato as an edible crop at the end of the 18th Century. The word “hachis” means a dish in which the ingredients are chopped or minced. For this dish you can use minced beef or thinly sliced beef – it can be an inexpensive cut as the beef is slow cooked for at least 2 1/2 hours. A very simple recipe but seriously good!

Ingredients for 4 people:

700g of minced beef
4 carrots, washed and roughly chopped
2 onions, diced
Clove of garlic (optional)
400 ml red wine

For the potato topping

Bouquet garni (tie 2 bay leaves together with a few sprigs of thyme and rosemary)
1 litre of pot au feu/veal  or beef stock
1 kg of potatoes, peeled and sliced for boiling
Cream, butter and salt and pepper
100g Gruyere cheese (optional).

Method:

If you are not using minced beef, slice the meat very thinly. Heat the oil in a large casserole dish and brown the beef. Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.

Remove the beef from the dish, add a little more oil and fry the onions and carrots, and the garlic (crushed) if you’re using it, until they are soft.

Add the bouquet garni and pour in the wine. Add the beef and stock, bring to a boil, pop the lid on the casserole dish and place it in the oven for 2½ hours.

During this time, boil and mash the potatoes until smooth. Add the cream, butter plus salt and pepper to taste. If you’re going for the cheesy version, add the grated Gruyere cheese too.

Remove the beef mix from the oven, ladle it into a large ovenproof dish (or you can leave it in the dish it is in) and spoon the mashed potato over the top, smooth it out with a knife.  Dot some more butter on the top and return it to the oven for a further 20-25 minutes at the same temperature.

Serve with  green vegetables and a glass of red wine. A hunk of baguette to mop up the juices is always good too!

Delicious and authentically French!

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