This mashed potato casserole is known as Hachis Parmentier in France. It is French comfort food and appropriately easy to fix. You might find it on a bistro menu when dining in France.
When I made this easy beef recipe recently, my son exclaimed "oh, just like at the cantine!" The cantine is the French school cafeteria and apparently they serve this dish frequently. I suppose that is because it would be easy to make and serve in large quantities. Consider it for the next time you have a crowd to serve.
In order to stay with the theme of my site I used an instant mashed potatoes to prepare this mashed potato casserole. I was hesitant to give these a try because purée, as mashed potatoes are called here, enjoy somewhat of a low reputation in France, which I assumed was because a lot of French people use instant mashed potatoes.
I was very pleasantly surprised with the instant mashed potatoes that I used. I paid extra for an organic brand that contained nothing but potatoes and rosemary extract (whatever that is!), and mixed it with water and milk, adding a little cream, salt and pepper at the end. Delicious. Perhaps not up to snuff for a turkey and gravy feast, but more than adequate for this casserole.
However after recently purchasing astainless steel food mill, I now only use instant potatoes if I'm pressed for time. It quickly (you just have to allow for the time for the potatoes to cook) and easily makes perfect mashed potatoes. And it's so easy to clean up that it makes less mess then if I were to use the instant potatoes. If you don't have a food mill already, I highly recomend you give one a try.
3/4 cup grated cheese (gruyère, emmental, or similar)
In a large frying pan, cook the onions and garlic in the butter and olive oil on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, ground beef, herbs, salt and pepper. Cook until the meat is browned thoroughly. Turn off heat and add egg yolk and Parmesan cheese, stirring to mix completely.
Spread the meat in the bottom of an lightly oiled oven proof dish (a 13 X 9 inch Pyrex dish would be perfect for the amount given in this recipe). Spread the potatoes on top of this and finish by sprinkling grated cheese on top.
Brown in 400° F oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
Makes 8 servings.
Change as You Wish
One of the beauties of mashed potato casserole, is its flexibility. I've given here the most basic recipe, Hachis Parmentier as it is usually served in France. Feel free to change everything around.
Try adding vegetables in with the ground beef (mushrooms, bell peppers and carrots would go great) or changing the seasoning (I added cayenne pepper for a decidedly un-French touch).
The meat could change as well, ground lamb or even ground poultry could be used.
A common variation found in France is Hachis Parmentier de Poisson, where the meat layer is replaced by a mixture of fish, vegetables, and seasonings.
The only constant in a parmentier casserole is the layer of mashed potatoes.