Gratin Parmentier is pure comfort food. Tender chunks of pot roast in a delectable gravy with a very light mashed potato topping and a crispy layer of Gruyere cheese.
You need about one a half pounds of cooked pot roast in order to make this dish. There is no such thing as leftover pot roast in my house, so I started from scratch with a 3 pound pot roast. I sliced one onion into thin slices and browned the onion with a little oil in my Dutch oven. I added a touch more oil, put the roast in the Dutch oven, and browned the roast on all sides. Once the roast was browned, I removed it and set it aside. Next I deglazed the pan, with the onions still in it, with about 1 cup of beef stock. I had one ripe and gorgeous homegrown tomato on the counter so I deseeded it and cut it into chunks. I threw the tomato in the Dutch oven with the onions, added some beef stock and a peeled garlic clove, and watched as it come to a boil. I added the roast back in (making sure the beef stock reached the middle of the roast, but did not cover it) put the lid on, and roasted it at 300F for about 3 hours. It was tender and perfect. The tomato was a lovely addition. In fact, I will be sure to add a tomato to my recipe from now on.
Once the pot roast is finished reserve the one and a half pounds needed for this recipe and set the rest aside for another recipe. You can also reserve the juices from the pot roast. The juices from your pot roast will be much more flavorful than any beef stock you can buy. You'll need 2 cups of beef stock or pan juices for this recipe. I had one cup from the roast and used another cup of store-bought beef stock.
After making the roast everything comes together pretty easily. You make a quick gravy with the reserved juices and allow the roast to simmer in the gravy while you make the potatoes. The potatoes get passed through a potato ricer and then half and half and eggs are added to make a very light and fluffy potato topping. Sprinkle the topping with cheese and place in the oven. You will be so pleased when you peek in and see all the bubbly browned goodness in the oven. This meal is a total treat!
Adapted from Essential Pepin
by Jacques Pepin
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2-1/2 cups very thinly sliced onions
2 teaspoons very finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cups homemade beef stock or pot roast juices
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-1/4 pounds leftover pot roast
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups half and half
3 lage eggs
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
For the Beef: Heat the oil and butter in a large pot until hot. Add the onions and saute over high heat for 5 minutes, or until a bit transparent and lightly browned. Add the garlic and flour and mix well. Add the stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Add the meat and bring to a boil again, then cover, lower the heat, and simmer very slowly for 20 minutes for boiled or braised meat; increase the cooking time if you use meat from a roast that was cooked medium or rare. Stir in the parsley.
The stew could be served alone at this point. For the gratin, put in a buttered 3-quart flamefproof gratin dish and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
For the Potatoes: Put the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with water, add 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and bring to a boil. Boil gently for 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with the point of a knife. Drain and push through a food mill or ricer into a bowl. (If you don't have a food mill, use a fork or potato masher; don't use a food processor.)
Add the half-and-half and mix well with a whisk until smooth. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste, then add the eggs one after the other and mix well.
Pour the potato mixture on top of the meat (or put it into a buttered flameproof gratin dish if making it to be served on its own) and spread it gently with a spatula. Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake for 30 minutes. Place under the broiler for 3 to 4 minutes to brown the top. Serve.
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