It's almost Bastille Day and this Hachis Parmentier is a rich and indulgent French version of Shepherd's pie. Invented by Antoine-Augustin Parmentier in the 18th Century as a way to use up leftover pot roast or leftover stew, this French dish is a little more indulgent and in my opinion, a little more delicious than your regular Shepherd's pie. In Hachis Parmentier, we braise ground beef meat in red wine instead of diced tomatoes, mash the potatoes with cream and butter, instead of milk, and top it with a little grated cheese. This is the perfect weeknight dinner for these cold days. Serve big slices with a glass of red wine and a simple green salad.
Whenever I go to France I'm struck by one aspect of the culture of French people above all else: so many of their daily habits are dedicated to seeking pleasure. From croissants in the morning, to the standard hour and a half lunch break - with courses, of course - their daily rituals are all about savouring the joy in their every day - not saving it for special occasions. They never eat lunch at their desk - quelle horreur - and a baguette must be bought fresh and tucked under your arm on the way home. I guess it's because they realise time passes so quickly and pleasure isn't something we should save to the end. French cuisine is about enjoyment, Bonne Degustation can be heard at every table, and it is a joy to behold.
So when you make this Hache Parmentier, I want you to embody the spirit of the French Kitchen! Use the butter and cream in your mashed potatoes, and the red wine in your sauce, and enjoy it. Bon Appétit!
What ingredients do you need to make Hachis Parmentier?
For the beef base
- 500 g Beef mince
- 1 Brown onion (yellow onion)
- 1 cup Red wine - go for reasonable quality, medium-bodied.
- 1 Carrot
- 2 Garlic cloves
- 1 ½ teaspoon of salt and ground pepper
- 40 g Tomato paste
- 45 ml Olive oil
- 2 Bay leaf
- 1 ¼ teaspoon Nutmeg (ground)
For the Potato topping - to create a golden brown crust
- 1 kg potatoes - white and floury are best, for a fluffy mash.
- 3 tablespoons butter (salted)
- 25 g Cheddar (tasty) cheese
- 250 ml Thickened pouring cream
For the side salad
- 120 g Baby rocket
- ½ Lemon
- A little olive oil
What is the difference between Hachis Parmentier and Shepherd's Pie?
There are three key differences between Shepherd's Pie and Hachis Parmentier
- Hachis Parmentier uses a wine-based sauce instead of diced tomatoes. I have used red wine in this recipe, but I have seen it made with white wine too.
- Use cream AND butter to make creamy mashed potatoes, the perfect topping to the beef mixture.
- Grated cheese on top! This is a game change. For ease, I used tasty (cheddar) cheese, but it is traditionally made with Emmental.
What does the name Hachis Parmentier mean?
Hachis comes from the verb hacher, meaning 'to chop', and generally refers to chopped meat, or in this case, minced beef. Parmentier is the surname of Antoine Parmentier, the man who first created the hachis parmentier recipe as a meat pie topped with an even layer of buttery mashed potatoes, and grated with a little cheese to create a nice brown crust.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, using a potato masher (or fork, in my case) is more than sufficient to make the lovely potato topping. You can use a potato ricer if you want, but it will be a little more labour-intensive. If you really want to create a potato purée, you can also use a stick blender. Just make sure you use floury potatoes, not waxy potatoes.
No, you don't need a food mill, unless you want to mince your own leftover meat, however, instead of a food mill, you could just chop your meat into small pieces. In this recipe, I call for minced meat, which makes it a lot simpler.
One defining characteristic of Hachis Parmentier is that the potato layer is a similar height if not greater, than the meat layer. For this reason, I like a smaller baking dish so you can really pile up the two layers. I used a pie dish for four serves and it was just about perfect.
Tips when making Hachis Parmentier
When you are reducing the red wine, do keep stirring every so often so that the beef doesn't burn, and keep an eye on it while you're mashing your potato, as it won't take much time to reduce.
- This recipe is gluten-free.
- To make this recipe dairy free swap butter for dairy-free butter like Nuttelex, cream for a dairy-free milk of your choice, and use dairy-free shredded parmesan instead of dairy cheese.
- You can add various herbs or spices to the mince mixture, like fresh thyme, chopped parsley, herbes de Provence or even a bouquet garni (a mixture of these herbs in a small muslin bag).
- I used Nutmeg in this recipe, however you can also use all spice and fennel seeds.
- You can also top the potato topping with bread crumbs if you want even more texture to your potato topping.
- The alcohol in the red wine will burn off when you're cooking it, but if you'd prefer you can use beef stock instead of red wine.
- Chop up the Haché Parmentier to serve!
You will need an oven grill, a saucepan, a stovetop, oven proof deep pan or casserole pot, and a stick blender (optional).
More French Recipes
French Bistro Salad - the classic French Bistro salad with goat cheese on a thinly sliced baguette.
Salmon en Papillote - A light and fresh fish dinner with a simple potato salad.
Chicken Provençal - This is a hearty dish from rustic Provence.
Tuna Nicoise Pasta Salad - a more substantial take on the Nicoise salad.
- Oven grill
- Oven proof deep pan or casserole pot
- Stick blender (optional)
- 1 kg potatoes white
- 1 brown onion
- 2 clove garlic
- 1 carrot
- 1 tablespoon salted butter 3 tablespoon total for the recipe
- 2 tablespoon olive oil 3 tablespoon total for the recipe
- 500 g beef mince
- 2 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg 1 ¼ teaspoon total for the recipe
- 1 cup red wine 250 ml (sub. beef stock)
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon salt and pepper 1 ½ teaspoon total for the recipe
- 2 tablespoon salted butter 3 tablespoon total for the recipe
- 1 cup thickened pouring cream 250 ml
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg 1 ¼ teaspoon total for the recipe
- 25 g cheddar cheese tasty cheese
- 120 g baby rocket
- 1 tablespoon olive oil 3 tablespoon total for the recipe
- ½ lemon
- ½ teaspoon salt and pepper 1 ½ teaspoon total for the recipe
- Turn on your oven grill. Peel and chop potatoes and place in a saucepan of salted water on high heat. Bring to the boil and boil for 10 mins or until fork soft.1 kg potatoes
- Dice onion. Mince garlic. Grate carrot.1 brown onion, 2 clove garlic, 1 carrot
- Place a deep, oven proof pan on high heat. Add butter and oil, then fry onion and beef mince, adding mince a handful at a time so it browns.1 brown onion, 1 tablespoon salted butter, 2 tablespoon olive oil, 500 g beef mince
- Add carrot, garlic, bay leaf, nutmeg, red wine, tomato paste, salt and pepper, then cook until the wine evaporates, stirring with a wooden spoon occasionally over medium heat (option to use beef stock instead of red wine if preferred). Continue to the next step.2 clove garlic, 1 carrot, 2 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 cup red wine, 2 tablespoon tomato paste, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper
- Drain potatoes and mash with butter and cream (this is a French recipe, after all)! Add nutmeg. Try to get a smoother consistency with your mash - a stick blender works really well.2 tablespoon salted butter, 1 cup thickened pouring cream, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- Top the beef with a hefty layer of mashed potato, it should be about the same height as the beef. Grate over cheese. Place under the grill for 5 mins.25 g cheddar cheese
- Make a simple green salad in a large bowl of baby rocket and drizzle over olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.120 g baby rocket, 1 tablespoon olive oil, ½ lemon, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper
- Serve kids their Hachis Parmentier cut into pieces. For adults, serve big slices of Hachis Parmentier with a side of salad, for balance, of course 😉 .