Here’s a cold-weather dish that is both sophisticated and supremely French. Duck parmentier — shredded duck confit topped by puréed potatoes — has turned up on Paris bistro menus recently and I was lucky enough to be served this version in early December. It came surrounded by a parmesan cream sauce and, to quote a friend, it was absolutely divine. After finishing every bite, I asked the bistro owner for the recipe.
Parmentier de canard / Duck parmentier
The bistro in question was Chartier, in Levallois on the western edge of Paris. It’s the kind of place that you long to find but that is increasingly rare — a modern version of the classic bistro style, with an inventive menu that winks at past traditions. The owner, Thomas Chartier, a congenial man, was happy to share his culinary secrets.
Duck parmentier is a spinoff of the classic French dish hachis parmentier, or sautéed ground beef topped by mashed potatoes — the kind of food you might expect to find in school cafeterias, not at a classy joint for adults. Both are named for Antoine-Auguste Parmentier, the 18th century chemist credited with popularizing the potato in France.
In Monsieur Chartier’s version, duck confit is shredded and stirred into what he called a tombée de champignons, or thinly sliced mushrooms (wild and farmed) sautéed with onion until meltingly tender, before being topped by the puréed potatoes. For an extra flourish he adds an unctuous sauce of grated parmesan stirred into heavy cream.
In my version, I omitted the mushrooms for reasons of practicality — it’s not always possible to get hold of wild mushrooms, and without them this dish may be prepared in any season. I think it’s best in winter, though — a sublime comfort food that can be paired with a salad and a hearty bottle of red. If you’d like to add a starter, I’d suggest something light, perhaps smoked salmon, and for dessert possibly an apple or pear tart.
In the months ahead, I plan to bring you more French classics with a modern twist. This blog is now entering its fifth year and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. Many thanks to all of you, dear readers. And on that note I’d like to wish you a very happy New Year and…
My wife cannot eat onions (she likes them, but they don’t like her!). She substitutes leeks (for some reason she can tolerate these) for the onions and it is gorgeous.
Many thanks for the tip. Sounds delicious!
Had this wonderful dish at Maison Marie Rue Gay Lussac last Saturday.
I love this blog! Do you have the original recipe for the duck parmentier, using the mushrooms? I would love to include them when I prepare this dish. Will be going to Paris in a week and a half, and may have to visit Chartier to taste the original version.
Hi Nancy. When making this dish, I improvised using the description offered by Monsieur Chartier — he never actually gave me a written recipe. So, continuing with my improvisation, I would suggest that you use a couple handfuls of mushrooms, preferably wild — morels, chanterelles or porcinis. Rinse and dry them, then slice finely and add to the skillet once the onions have wilted. Wait to add the duck until the mushrooms have released and reabsorbed their juices. If fresh wild mushrooms are not available, you can use dried. Just soak them in warm water for about 20 minutes before adding them. Happy cooking!
I was looking to try this dish when I was in Paris last week, I’ve never had it with duck which I love. My hubby makes it with lamb or beef, in fact he made it last night, and it is a comfort dish I can’t get enough of!
Happy New Year,
thank you so very much for writing this blog, it is one of my favourites. I have learned a good deal and we have benefited at our table because you have shared your talent and skill with us.
Tania, I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog! Many thanks for your comment — it’s great to get feedback. All best, Meg
I don’t doubt it’s delicious, but it’s an affront to non-meat-eaters and bird lovers.
Celia, your comment has given me food for thought. As I’m sure you know, this is not a vegetarian blog — although it has many meatless recipes, as well as Menu sections for vegetarians and vegans. This blog is designed, as it says above, as ‘a modern cook’s guide to producing fabulous French food the easy way’. In other words, it’s for omnivores. I have many vegetarian and vegan friends who use the site enthusiastically. They choose the recipes that are right for them and ignore those that are not — and you can do the same. However, if you feel affronted by non-vegetarian recipes, it might be best to turn to a different blog. One I can recommend is Sprouted Kitchen (https://www.sproutedkitchen.com/about/). I hope you and your loved ones find joy in the new year. All best, Meg