I am sure everybody knows that Parmentier is a dish made with mashed, baked potato, combined with diced meat and sauce lyonnaise and served in the potato shells. The dish was 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. Some historians claim that any dish containing potatoes can be called “Parmentier”! In Belgium and in France the most popular version is the hachis parmentier (“hachis” means a dish in which the ingredients are chopped or minced, from the same root as the English word “hatchet”) My godfather, who lives in Belgium, really loves the hachis parmentier so I decided to prepare a new version for his 61th birthday.
In my recipe version instead of meat I added mushroom and according to my godfather it worked very well with the potato purée. And one more special feature of my dish was the Swiss chard, flavoured with Japanese mirin (vinaigrette). It’s made the dish just perfect.
2 pounds/ 1 kg mushrooms
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil, more as needed
1 large red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup/125 ml red wine
1/2 cup/125 ml vegetable stock or water
fresh thyme leaves, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon flour
1 bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
Cheese potato top:
1/4 cup/60 ml milk
2 to 4 tablespoons butter
salt and freshly ground pepper
4 ounces/110 g Comte, Gruyere or Grana Padano cheese, cut into very fine dice
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
For the chard:
3 1/2 pounds Swiss chard (preferably red; about 4 bunches), washed
1/4 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup water and 2 tbsp of mirin Japanese vinegar
1 teaspoon of honey or agave maple syrup
For the potatoes: Steam the potatoes in a covered saucepan with about 1 inch/2.5 cm water in the bottom, until very tender, about 30 minutes. For the mushrooms: Clean and quarter the mushrooms. Heat just 2 tablespoons of the butter with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and sauté the mushrooms until cooked and golden. Remove from the pan. Heat the other spoonful of olive oil and sauté the onion until soft. Add the garlic for 1 minute. Deglaze with the wine and reduce to no more than a spoonful. Add the stock, thyme and mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook until the stock has reduced by half. Knead together the flour with the last tablespoon of butter and stir it in. Cook until the liquid has thickened to a sauce, a matter of minutes. Stir in the parsley. Spoon the mixture into a gratin dish. For the cheese potato top: Heat the oven to 425 degrees F/220 degrees C. Mash the potatoes with the milk and butter until smooth, adding more milk if needed. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the diced cheese. Distribute evenly over the mushroom mixture, and smooth with the back of the spoon (if you want to be very retro-housewife, make patterns with the tines of a fork or make waves with a spoon). Sprinkle over the Parmesan. Bake the gratin until bubbling hot and golden on top, about 15 minutes.
Prep of the chard:
Swiss chard is not only one of the most popular vegetables along the Mediterranean but it is one of the most nutritious one around and ranks second only to spinach following of the so called total nutrient-richness of the World’s Healthiest vegetables. It is also one of only three vegetables that boiling to help reduce its concentration of oxalic acid.
Cut stems and center ribs away from Swiss chard leaves. Slice stems and center ribs thin and reserve. Chop leaves coarsely and reserve separately. In a 10 to 12 quart heavy kettle heat oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and sauté reserved stems and ribs, stirring, until crisp-tender. Add garlic and sauté, stirring, until garlic is fragrant. Add reserved leaves with water clinging to them and cook, turning with tongs, until wilted. Add 1/2 cup water and mirin and cook, covered, over moderate heat until leaves are tender, about 4 minutes. Season the chard with salt and pepper. Spoon the honey over and toss the sesame seeds to dish and cook everything together for one more minute. Chard may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.