Parmentier de canard

Duck parmentier

Duck parmentier consists of shredded duck confit that is topped with mashed potatoes and baked in the oven. In this recipe, it comes surrounded by a parmesan cream sauce. It’s a sophisticated spinoff of one of France’s classic down-home dishes, hachis parmentier, aka (in Britain) shepherd’s pie, or ground beef sautéed and topped with mashed potatoes.

The recipe is quite easy if you have access to confit de canard, and a bit of a production if you do not. Duck confit, or duck preserved in its own fat, is widely available in France and comes in jars, tinned or frozen. If you live elsewhere and cannot find it, you can make it yourself — but it takes a couple of days. To see my recipe, click here.

Serve the duck parmentier with a green salad alongside and a bottle of hearty red. The ingredients listed below will serve two people.

1 confit duck leg (to make your own, click here)
1 tbsp. olive oil or duck fat
1 red onion or 2 shallots
a pinch of rosemary or thyme
1 tbsp. dry white wine
1 pound (500 g) potatoes
1 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup (60 ml) milk, or more
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (25 cl) heavy cream
6 tbsp. freshly grated parmesan

This dish may be assembled in advance and baked just before you are ready to serve it.

Start by preparing the duck. Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 (350 F, 180 C). Heat the confit duck leg in the oven until the fat has melted and the flesh is warm, about 10 minutes (or longer if starting with frozen confit).

Allow the duck to cool for easy handling. Remove and discard the skin and, using your hands, shred the duck meat. It should be shredded fairly finely.

Mince the onion or shallots. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and sauté the onion/shallots until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the shredded duck and the rosemary or thyme. Heat through. Add the wine and sauté, stirring, until the wine has evaporated. Remove from heat.

Now make the mashed potatoes. Peel the potatoes and chop into large pieces. Place them in a large pot of cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain through a colander. Return the potatoes to the pot and mash with a fork. Mix in the butter, then add the milk — you are aiming for a thick purée, so don’t add more milk than necessary. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

You are now ready to assemble the parmentier. This may be done either in a small baking dish or (more elegantly) as individual portions, as shown in the photo. If using a baking dish, oil the dish, add the duck in one even layer and spread the mashed potatoes over the top. To make individual portions, use a large glass or ramekin to trace two circles on parchment paper. Cut them apart. Place an even layer of duck on each of the circles and top with the mashed potatoes. Use a table knife as a spatula and, holding it vertically, smooth the sides. Place the circles (including the parchment paper) in a large pie pan.

Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 (350 F, 180 C). Place the parmentier in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes have started to brown.

While the parmentier is in the oven, make the parmesan sauce. Heat the heavy cream to a simmer over a medium flame. Add the grated parmesan. Cook, stirring, until the cream thickens, about one minute. Turn off the heat.

When the duck comes out of the oven, place on individual plates and drizzle the sauce around each portion. Decorate with a couple of dark green leaves or a sprig of fresh herbs.

Serve piping hot, accompanied by a green salad. Serves 2.

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