Shredded Beef with Mashed Potatoes

(Hachis Parmentier)

Antoine Augustin Parmentier, an 18th-century French agronomist, promoted the potato so enthusiastically that the tuber itself was briefly known as une parmentiere. This dish, named in Parmentier's honor, is a French version of England's cottage pie (or vice versa).

Shredded Beef with Mashed Potatoes
This dish is named in Hachis Parmentier's honor and is a French version of England's cottage pie (or vice versa).
Yield: serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. meaty beef shanks
  • 1 lb. beef short ribs
  • 34 lb. boneless rump roast
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut into thirds
  • 2 ribs celery, cut into thirds
  • 2 large yellow onions, peeled and quartered
  • 1 bouquet garni of 6 small fresh sprigs parsley, 6 black peppercorns, 1 bay leaf, and 1 large peeled clove garlic, tied in cheesecloth with kitchen twine
  • 5 russet potatoes, peeled
  • Salt
  • 12 cup milk, scalded
  • 9 12 oz. (2 sticks plus 3 tbsp.) butter, plus 6 tbsp. (optional)
  • 1 large clove garlic; peeled and minced
  • pinches freshly grated nutmeg
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • 12 cup fresh bread crumbs (optional)

Instructions

  1. Put meats, carrots, celery, half the onions, and bouquet garni into a large stockpot. Add 10 cups cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, skimming any foam and fat that rise to the surface, until meats are tender, about 2 hours. Strain stock into a large bowl, discarding vegetables and bouquet garni, and set aside. Remove and discard bones, fat, and sinew from meat, coarsely shred meat, and set aside.
  2. Put potatoes into a large pot, cover with cold water by 2"–3", and add a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat to medium, and gently boil until potatoes are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, about 30 minutes. Drain potatoes, then press through a potato ricer or mash with a potato masher in a large bowl. Add hot milk, 16 tbsp. of the butter, garlic, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Adjust seasonings, cover to keep warm, and set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 400°. Chop remaining onions. Melt 2 tbsp. of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until soft, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle flour over onions and cook, stirring constantly, for 1–2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, stir in 34 cup of the reserved beef stock (save remaining stock for another use), and cook, stirring frequently, until onion mixture is browned and very thick, about 15 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Grease a 2-quart baking dish with 1 tbsp. of the butter; set aside. Add onion mixture to shredded meat, season to taste with salt and pepper, and mix well. Spread 4 cups of the mashed potatoes in bottom of baking dish; cover with chredded meat mixture. Spread remaining potatoes on top and sprinkle with bread crumbs (if using). Melt remaining 6 tbsp. butter (if using) and drizzle over bread crumbs. Bake until golden brown on top, 20-30 minutes. Let rest briefly before serving.