Hachis Parmentier is a classic French shepherd’s pie made with beef in a red wine sauce and the fluffiest mashed potatoes you will ever have.
By Alexandra Shytsman
January may be notorious as the month of healthier eating resolutions, but the fact is, it’s cold out here on the east coast, so it’s only natural to crave meals that are on the heavier side. Enter Hachis Parmentier – the epitome of warming French peasant food. This recipe was inspired by a visit to one of my favorite French restaurants in NYC – Buvette. A special that day, their shepherd’s pie was simply divine. The layer of beef at the bottom was so thoroughly braised that it turned into more of a concentrated sauce than just sauteed beef; the mashed potatoes on top were the fluffiest, butteriest, most cloud-like potatoes I’ve ever had. “Where have you been all my life?” I thought.
Thankfully, I was able to recreate the recipe at home. Some cooking notes: It is really important to be patient with browning the beef in batches, lest it steams and turns out dry instead of caramelizing properly. Be sure to use a good quality red wine, something you would actually drink (never use ‘cooking wine’); the flavor will concentrate as it cooks and if the wine is bad, you risk ruining the whole dish. For the potatoes, there are several steps to help achieve a cloud-like texture. The first is to use white potatoes instead of russet – they’re smoother and slightly less starchy, thus resulting in a creamier consistency. The second is to puree them in a food processor instead of with a masher; this will give the potatoes more airiness and eliminate any lumps. Lastly, do not skimp on the cream or butter. This is a French dish after all – it’s what they mean by joie de vivre.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb ground beef (organic and grass-fed, if possible)
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ⅓ c dry red wine
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 c vegetable stock
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 large (about 1 lb) white potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
- ⅓ c heavy cream
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over high heat and add half of the beef. Break it up with a wooden spatula and cook, stirring frequently, until it is browned - about 4 min. Season with pinches of salt and pepper, stir, and transfer to a bowl.
- Add more olive oil to the skillet and cook the second batch of beef. Once the second batch is browned, add the first batch back into the skillet, along with the onion and garlic. Turn heat down to medium-low and cook until onion softens - about 4 min.
- Add wine and simmer for a few minutes to evaporate most of the alcohol.
- In a small cup/dish, dissolve tomato paste with a bit of vegetable stock and add to skillet, along with remaining stock and thyme. Season again with salt and pepper and stir. Turn heat down to low and cover with a lid. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 25 min. Be sure to taste and re-season the sauce if necessary.
- In the meantime, prepare the potatoes. Rinse them under cold running water and place into a large pot. Cover with water by about 2" and add a generous pinch of salt. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, crack the lid, turn heat down to low and simmer until potatoes can be pierced easily with a fork, about 12 min.
- While potatoes are cooking, prepare the cream: pour cream into a small saucepan and add butter. Heat over a low flame until butter is melted - do not boil.
- Drain potatoes and transfer to a food processor. Pour cream mixture over the potatoes and season with a small pinch of salt. Puree until smooth.
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Place beef in a single layer in into a 8x8" baking dish and top with potatoes. Bake for about 15 min, until potatoes are set.
Originally published on Chez Sasha