Daily Archives: 19 October 2018
I LOVE casseroles! Surprisingly, I didn’t discover them until I became a college student and cooked in my dorm with other people and the wide variety of home cooking recipes that we shared. I’m excluding all forms of baked pasta from the category of casseroles as my half-Italian mother was a master of lasagna and baked mac-and-cheese.
As I learned many years later, when asking why she didn’t make casseroles, there were two reasons, one from each of my parents. The first was that my father did not like leftovers. Casseroles being a creative way to reuse leftovers, he was onto that game. The second was that my mother didn’t like her food mixed together. Most of my childhood meals are what I call “three position dinners”: meat, starch, and vegetable, arranged separately on the plate. I had no idea that this was my mother’s preferred way of interacting with her dinner.
I love my food mixed together. One reason is probably because I don’t like to eat that much meat. With it mixed with vegetables and other ingredients, I like to think it’s less noticeable to other people eating what I cook.
Pot pies are a favorite. Good in any cooler weather season, a pot pie is my favorite vehicle for post-Thanksgiving leftovers. The turkey, vegetables, and gravy all get a second life. I’ve always topped a pot pie with pastry or biscuits. In this French version, Chicken Pot Parmentier, a dressed-up pot pie filling is topped with smooth mashed potatoes. It’s kind of like a potpie-Shepherd’s pie mashup, but the filling can’t disguise its Francophile leanings: a dash of wine, a handful of chopped tarragon, miniature onions.
As any casserole requires, I tweaked the ingredients to work with what has on-hand. I didn’t have an open bottle of wine, so used sherry. I had leftover turkey breast, so used that instead of chicken. I couldn’t find pearl onions at the grocery store but used cute little Cippolini onions that they did have. I also quartered them because they seemed too big relative to the diced carrots and celery.
There were a few standout takeaways from the recipe. First, simmering the vegetables in the broth to be used for the velouté sauce was a genius nod to simplicity. I also loved the flavor the wine added to the sauce. The egg yolk added to the mashed potatoes added extra structure that worked well.
This week we weren’t eating many meals at home, so I made only one-third of the recipe (always divide by the eggs) and made two individually-sized Chicken Pot Parmentiers. They were adorable and just the right serving size for each of us. No leftovers from the leftovers!
I’d definitely make this again, full-size or maybe divided into more individual servings, depending on my mood. Chicken Pot Pie amped up a notch or two into French comfort food. This is a winning recipe.
Want to make this yourself? You can find the recipe on page 166 of David Leibovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. Want to know how other renditions turned out? Follow the links of my fellow home cooks from Cook the Book Fridays here.