Hachis Parmentier is a French version of Sheperd’s pie and consists of diced meat mixed with lyonnaise sauce stuffed into potato shells and covered with mashed potato and baked.
The dish is supposedly named after the French pharmacist, nutritionist and inventor Antoine-Augustin Parmentier. He was very much interested in using and incorporating potatoes into the French cuisine because his colleagues considered the vegetable to be a bland, poisonous food. He was not the original inventor of the dish but it is named after him with the first term ‘hachis,’ meaning ‘chopped’, the second term being his surname.
Ingredients and Preparation
Hachis Parmentier is prepared by first cooking the meat (commonly beef) with onions, leeks, tomatoes, red wine, herbs and spices. A thick stew is prepared and the meat is removed from the bone and added back to the dish. Mashed potatoes are prepared separately and layered onto a baking dish. The cooked meat and stew are layered on top of the mashed potato layer and covered again with mashed potatoes. The top layer is garnished with cheese and butter and baked till done.
The essential French recipe for Hachis Parmentier has remained the same over time. However, contemporary recipes may switch ingredients to make the preparation of the dish faster. For example, cooks may use minced meat cooked with a mix of herbs and spices and layered in the same way. They may also change the meat to chicken or pork according to taste. Traditionally, Hachis Parmentier can also be prepared also sans any vegetable. However, cooks often prefer to add leeks, carrots, onions and celery to the meat layer to make it filling and nutritious. Popular chef, Dorie Greenspan, has a very famous and easy version of the recipe in her book “French Fridays With Dorie,” in which she used cube steaks and sausages to make the dish. There are also similarly prepared dishes all over the world which are named differently. For example, the English version of Hachis Parmentier is called Shepherd’s pie which is a meat pie prepared by simmering meat and vegetables to form a thick meat mixture which is covered with mashed potatoes and baked. A similar dish is also prepared in Morocco called pastel de patatas.
According to food researchers, any dish in French cuisine that has the term “parmentier” in it, will have potatoes as an essential ingredient.