Things have been slow at the White-Sankey residence. About two weeks ago, we tried to put together a tomato sauce with homemade raviolis which was a disaster. Jeff and I worked the pasta dough for about two hours and it turned into a frustrating event. With all the recipes we have made in the past 18 months, there has to be a burn out point for trying new dishes. Since then, we hadn't taken on any new cooking projects. We had been enjoying some of our favorites and even cooked a corn beef and cabbage dinner on St. Patrick's Day.
This weekend we came back to life! We made an incredible paella last night (by request from my girlfriend, Alison...which we will feature tomorrow night) and tonight we made Hachis Parmentier, the French version of a traditional shepard's pie. It was featured in the Boston Globe's Magazine as being "better" than shepard's pie. By all accounts, they were right!
This dish is similar to a shepard's pie, but without the vegetables. The beef is seasoned with a bay leaf, thyme and tomato paste. The potatoes are mixed with Parmesan cheese and topped with gruyere cheese. The gruyere turned golden brown and left a crunchy covering over the potatoes. It was incredibly DELICIOUS!
I love when we can make one dish casseroles that are fairly easy and our family loves. With 6 people in attendance and quite a few leftovers, we will once again start the week with people fighting for savory lunches...which is always a good thing. If your palette has moved beyond the traditional shepard's pie, try Hachis Parmentier. It will bring a new twist to an old favorite and your audience fighting for leftovers!
1½ tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
2¼ pounds of lean ground beef
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons of minced fresh thyme
¼ cup of tomato paste
3 tablespoons of flour
1½ cups of low-sodium chicken broth
¼ cup of chopped fresh parsley
6 to 8 medium-large russet potatoes (about 3 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks, rinsed in 2 changes of water
3 tablespoons of butter, melted
2/3 cup of milk or half-and-half
1/3 cup of finely grated Parmesan
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup of coarsely grated gruyere, about 3 ounces
In a very large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until onion softens, about 4 minutes. Add the meat and cook until no longer pink, about 10 minutes; spoon off fat, if desired. Add the garlic, thyme, and tomato paste, and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Adjust the heat to medium, add the flour, and cook, stirring constantly, for 1½ minutes. Add the broth and 3/4 teaspoon salt, adjust the heat to high, and bring to a simmer, using a wooden spoon to scrape bottom of skillet to loosen and dissolve the fond, about 1 minute. Adjust the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring and scraping occasionally, until thickened but still saucy, about 15 minutes. Set skillet aside off heat to cool slightly; remove bay leaf, add most of the parsley, and stir to mix. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, if necessary, and pepper to taste. Scrape the meat mixture into a broiler-safe 2-quart casserole dish, spread evenly, and set aside.
Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a steaming basket. Fill a large pot with enough water to reach just to the bottom of the basket and bring to a boil over high heat. Set the basket in the pot, reduce the heat to medium-high, and steam the potatoes until very tender, about 20 minutes. Remove the basket and pour the water out of the pot.
Set a potato ricer over the pot and rice the potatoes into it. Add the melted butter and stir into the potatoes. Add the milk or half-and-half, 1½ teaspoons salt, pepper to taste, and the Parmesan, and stir into the potatoes to incorporate (you should have about 6 cups). Taste the potatoes and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary. Set aside to cool for about 15 minutes, then add the eggs and stir to incorporate.
Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Spread the potatoes evenly over the meat filling, making sure they reach the edges of the dish, and sprinkle with the gruyere.
Place the dish on a baking sheet and bake until the filling is heated through and the potatoes are puffed slightly, about 20 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil until top is golden brown, about 7 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining parsley and serve. This recipe feeds 8.