I made the first Jacques Pepin dish, duck breasts in red-wine balsamic sauce, six months ago when we started featuring Pepin at IHCC. It’s fitting to end the Pepin rotation with another duck dish, a duck parmentier. (To see other Pepin’s dishes by IHCC home cooks, please click here.) I took the cue from Kim, the IHCC administrator extraordinaire, who put out a phenomenal gratin parmentier a few weeks ago.
Parmentier is potato-topped meat pie named after Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, who is credited with staving off a famine in the late eighteen century in France when he promoted potatoes as a good source of nutrition. Now Parmentier is part of the French cusine lexicon. There is a metro station in Paris named after him. Colorful panorama of potato recipes is on full display at the station while waiting for the train to come.
I made a variation of this French classic with duck confit, which I have on hand in the freezer. I’m glad to learn about this technique. The potatoes keep the meat moist and the meat, gives the potatoes flavor. A good marriage! I did my bidding by passing the cooked potatoes through a ricer to make them light and airy.
After preparing the meat and the mashed potatoes, layer them in a gratin dish. Cheese is sprinkled on top and baked until browned and crusty. Gruyere, tarragon and chervil add a distinctly French touch to the dish. There is a British equivalent of the Parmentier: the shepherd pie. I can imagine doing a no-fuss American version, by topping the meat pie with drop biscuits instead of mashed potatoes.
I like that Parmentier has a lot of range. Any kind of meat, including rotisserie chicken leftovers, can be used. Even potatoes can be substituted with biscuit dough. Both the meat and potato components can be prepared ahead of time, making it a great dish to have in our repertoire.
Jacques Pepin has certainly helped expand my repertoire to include some classic French dishes, whose accent marks I routinely butcher, but all are invariably comforting and delectable. To name a few: onion soup gratinee Lyonnaise, Rothschild souffle, mollet eggs Florentine, crepes and brandade (salted cod) au gratin. They’ve brought much joy and excitement to our dinner table. Au Revoir Chef Pepin!
|Any meat would do with Parmentier|
|Duck Parmentier topped with mashed potatoes and Gruyere|
|Onion soup gratinee Lyonnaise|
|Mollet eggs Florentine|
|Brandade (salted cod) au gratin|