Ok guys, we are entering the forth week of cooking from the new book by Dorie Greenspan - “Around my French Table”. This is my third contribution, since I skipped last weeks choice, the Vietnamese Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup.
But, this week I could not resist, because mashed potatoes and meat, in this case chopped meat - are like a great marriage.
In France this is the equivalent of the English Shepard pie. “Hachis”, which means a dish in which the ingredients are chopped or minced, come from the same root as the English word “hatchet”. I did not use a hatchet of course, but I like the mental picture of it. The rest of the dish is named after Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, a French pharmacist, nutritionist, and inventor who, in the late 18th century, was instrumental in the promotion of the potato as an edible crop.
Let’s all stand up right now and thank THAT MAN!
Because, who does NOT love potatoes? Yeah, I thought so, I have never, ever found someone that does not like potatoes. I mean French Frieds, Croquetas, Baked Potatoes, in salads, alone and even used to brew alcoholic beverages such as vodka, potcheen, or akvavit.
That potato…. has got her act together folks… she will never be out of a job.
But out of all the ways we can cook this spud… Mashed Potatoes is my favorite.
Ok, no, that is wrong.. its not my favorite, is the way that I love potatoes the best.
Ok, not love.. more like I need mash potatoes in my life to keep me sane.
I’m not kidding.
I could eat the stuff at every single meal. Find ways to served it different ways. And eat some more.
I will never, ever grown tired of it.
And I love to make it too.
My family counts on me to ALWAYS be the mashed potato go-to girl.
Yes sir, I’m the mashed potato go-to girl. That sounds weird, but I.DONT.CARE.
So, when I saw this recipe I knew that nothing was going to stop me from making it.
Not even the worse day at work.
Like I had today.
Because I got home and before Tom could say “Hi” I had my apron on and was cutting into carrots, celery, onions, garlic and dumping everything into the saucepan with water.
The recipe stars with making a bouillon, which is just a fancy word for broth, made with all of the above vegetables and the cube steak. After bringing it to a boil, cleaning the foam, you simmer it for one an half hours until you get a very aromatic, rich beef stock.
Next up you chopped up the meat, and then saute it along with some sausage turning it into this robust filling. According to Dorie, the dish does not have vegetables, but I could not bring myself to throw away the carrots or celery used to make the stock, so instead I chopped them up really, really fine and added them to the filling, they are there, you can taste them, but you can barely see them.
Then comes the potatoes, which get cooked in salted water until soft and then using a potato ricer (if you don’t have one, go buy one right now, your potatoes will thank you) you mashed while incorporating cream, milk and butter, until a they reach a heavenly creamy consistency. I had to stop myself from eating a bowl right then and there.
After you got your filling and mashed potatoes you go to town building this pie. Into a buttered baking dish it goes, first the filling and then your soft mashed potatoes and if that was not enough to entice you… on top of that you grate some Gruyere (or Comte or Emmental) cheese and because cheese likes to play well together, you pair it up with some parmesan too.
And into the oven it goes to get all happy at 400 degrees for 30 minutes - until all nice an bubbling.
But, then you can take it to another whole different level and because, I love my cheese to be nice and golden, with maybe a bit of burn crust… I did an extra step of turning my broiler to “high” and letting the cheese sing.
Happy, happy, Joy! Joy!
Tom: “This was totally and I mean TOTALLY worth the 2 hours it took you to put it together, I’m having seconds and thirds - so you better put your portion for your lunch tomorrow away right now.”
The little man: “it’s so good, can I have more?” for the record, he served himself 2 more times.
Can we say this little number was a total hit at our house tonight?
YES WE CAN!
Want to check out if it was a hit at the other cooks houses? Then head over to French Fridays with Dorie and take a look.