Thank you Antoine – French vegetarian shepherd’s pie with mushrooms, taleggio and three purées
Merci Antoine – Hachis parmentier végétarien aux champignons, taleggio et aux trois purées
In France Hachis parmentier is something eaten quite frequently and that kids love, due to its combination of potato puree and ground meet. My mom being Italian, she never really prepared this, but when I went to my friend’s houses, hachis parmentier was a dish served quite often. I remember my mom saying that she didn’t like it because it was made with leftover meats therefore not something too exciting (actually people do use meat they had left from pot-au-feu or boiled meats, etc…). A “hachis” is a dish where all the ingredients are ground, chopped alltogether. Haché means ground, viande hachée, ground meat.
Parmentier comes from Antoine Parmentier, a pharmacist and chemist born in the 18e century. After a trip to Ireland, he discovered the health benefits of potatoes and became convinced that potatoes would help treat problems of poor blood circulation, intestinal problems, etc…He introduced potato to Louis XVI to cure starvation and as a result this dish was born. I think the Irish or English version is called Shepherd’s Pie.
I have been wanting to make a vegetarien hachis parmentier and have been thinking about this recipe for quite some time, without really succeeding in finalizing it. Not being a huge fan of potatoes, I wanted to use something “more” than potatoes, so here is a purée of carrots, yams and sweet potatoes and I honestly loved every bite of this hachis parmentier. I cooked the carrots and potatoes in milk so they absorbed a good amount of it while cooking. The hachis is made of wild mushrooms, leeks and celeri…the sweet flavor of the potatoes combined with the nutty mushrooms and melted taleggio is simply fantastic (Taleggio is an Italian soft cheese with a fragrant and strong nutty flavor). Funny, how you can see on the picture some smoke coming up from the hachis, since it came straight out of the oven. I wouldn’t think the smoke would show on a picture.
You can add more mushroom mixture, and play around with the layers, in my version I added a thicker layer of potato mixture, it’s all about how you want it to be. I served this in individual ramequins with a small salad, you can serve hachis parmentier in a large dish and serve it as a meal by itself, it’s a very satisfying meal and really don’t need anything else on the side.
Ingredients for 4 individual hachis
For the mushroom-leek mixture
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, finely diced
- 1/2 lb mixed mushrooms (cremini, shiitake, chanterelles, etc….) cut in small pieces
- 1 leek, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- Taleggio, sliced
- Panko bread crumbs for topping
For the potato-carrot mixture
- 2 large carrots, peeled and cut about 1 inch trunks
- 1 small yam, peeled and cut in about 1 inch pieces
- 1 small sweet potato and cut in about 1 inch pieces
- milk (enough to cover the vegetables)
- salt and pepper
Start by preparing the potato-carrot purée. Cook carrots, sweet potatoes, yams in milk at medium heat. When cooked remove from stove, drain milk and keep aside and mash vegetables. Adjust with salt and pepper. If too thick add milk set aside.
Heat olive oil in a pan, add shallots and celery and cook until tender and slightly browned. Add leeks and let them cook covered until tender. Remove from pan and set aside. Add some extra olive oil, and cook mushrooms until water evaporates. When cooked, add leeks and mix well. Add garlic and let cook for a few minutes more. Add thyme, salt and pepper.
In four deep individual dishes or ramequins, place one layer of mushrooms, top it with taleggio, then finish with carrot-potato purée. Sprinkle with panko breadcrumbs. Cook in a pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes, then broil top until it turns golden brown. Serve immediately.
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