Gratin Parmentier is a dish that I had when travelling in France and it has earned its place as one of my favorite dishes.
I love History and learning fun facts about food. The word “Parmentier” is used to describe a dish made with potatoes and the origin of this type of dish dates to late 18th – 19th centuries. The man for whom these dishes was a pharmacist named Antoine-Augustin Parmentier – he grew potatoes and promoted their benefits and uses. This was at a time in history when the French perceived potatoes as only fit for animal consumption and nothing more. I know I am glad that public perception changed because potatoes are versatile and delicious.
Béchamel makes a dish marvelous – it stands above all other cream sauces. I always had the idea that French food was difficult and required that every dish in your kitchen would be dirty. I was completely wrong. This recipe proved to me that I was wrong
Even if you have never been to France, this is an exquisite dish that takes you on a culinary adventure of which Julia Childs would be proud!
• Meatballs: if you want to make the meatballs in advance and freeze them, you will save time. Just thaw in the fridge before using!
• Milk/half and half: Use one of the higher fat options because a lower fat milk will not produce the creaminess you want for the best flavor and texture.
• Baking Dish: You want to use a round baking dish with taller sides. If you do not have a dish like this, just use a baking dish that will hold the contents and not cause the béchamel to run over the sides.Print
5 Tbsp. of butter
4 Tbsp. of all-purpose flour
4 cups of whole milk or half and half
Salt and fresh ground better to taste
½ tsp. of nutmeg
The Meat and Potatoes:
3 potatoes – peeled and boiled
1 white onion
1 ½ lbs. of ground beef
1 tsp. of chopped parsley
⅛ tsp. (a pinch) of paprika
1 cup of shredded mozzarella
Salt and fresh ground pepper
First, you want to make a basic béchamel sauce for use later in the recipe!
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add in flour and stir it all up until it gets smooth. Keep cooking the mixture until it all turns a light golden color, for about six or seven minutes.
In a separate pan, heat the milk/half and half until it almost boils – but not actually boiling.
Once it’s hot enough, gradually add the hot milk/half and half one cup at a time to the butter, continually whisking the entire time until it’s smooth.
Once you have incorporated the milk/half and half, bring to a boil, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring it constantly.
Season it at the end with salt and nutmeg and set aside!
Meat and Potatoes
Preheat Oven to 400° F. Grease a round baking dish with either oil or butter.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef along with the chopped parsley and paprika. Add a little bit of salt and pepper.
Make sure to mix all the ingredients until they’re evenly combined. Set aside.
Peel three potatoes and boil them until they are semi-soft and almost done (around seven minutes.) Once they are ready, take them out and slice each potato, arranging them around the bottom of a round glass baking dish. Lay one layer flat on the bottom and arrange another layer around the sides as well.
Get the meat mixture and work it into ice cream scoop-sized meatballs—the entire thing should form about 15 meatballs.
Next, arrange them on the slices of potato that you laid out earlier.
Once you’ve got the meatballs placed in the pan, use the remaining slices of potato to put walls between the meatballs so each one has its own compartment.
Pour the béchamel sauce into each one of the “compartments” until the compartments are full and the baking pan is filled with béchamel nearly up to the top of the pan.
Top the entire thing with a thin layer of shredded mozzarella.
Bake in pre-heated oven for about 25 minutes – the internal temperature of the meatballs should be 160° F.