Antoine-Augustin Parmentier (1737 – 1813) was a French pharmacist who championed the potato as food. It’s hard to imagine not eating potatoes, but when the Spanish first introduced them to Europe, the French government prohibited their ingestion, for fear that they caused leprosy! I believe the Spanish and Irish, quite sensibly, got on with eating the tuber, fearlessly.
While Parmetier was serving as an army pharmacist (during the Seven Years’ War), he was captured by the Prussians, who fed their prisoners potatoes. In France, at this time, potatoes were only considered fit for pigs. On his release, Parmentier vigorously campaigned for human consumption of potatoes, in an effort to halt French shortages. In 1772, the potato was declared edible (by the Paris Faculty of Medicine), but nevertheless, it took a year of poor harvests and a famine in the north (1785) to convince the general population.
Potato dishes named in Parmentier’s honour, include: crème Parmentier (leek and potato soup); hachis Parmentier (cottage or shepherd’s pie); brandade de morue parmentier (salt cod mashed with garlic, olive oil and potatoes); purée Parmentier (mashed potatoes); salade Parmentier (potato salad).
At some point over Christmas, I was watching Rick Stein’s Secret France, where he cooks a duck Parmentier – this is an upmarket version of the basic hachis Parmentier, made of minced beef and onions topped with mashed potato (known here as cottage pie). As I watched the duck confit warming in the pan, I thought of leftover goose from Christmas Day and knew it would be perfect for a Goose Parmentier. I left the roasted goose legs to an arctic repose, for a several weeks, but finally my taste buds got the better of me.
Goose Parmentier recipe (serves 4):
2 roast goose legs (shredded and skin removed)
1 large onion (chopped)
6 pieces garlic (finely chopped)
200g button mushrooms (chopped)
a dessertspoon parsley (chopped
3 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 pint stock
a glass red wine
a splash red wine vinegar
a dessertspoon tomato purée
a large squirt anchovy paste
6 medium désirée potatoes (boiled)
1/4 pint milk
3 knobs butter
a heaped teaspoon goose fat
a splash olive oil
150 – 200g Comté cheese (grated)
sea salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
Heat a heaped teaspoon of goose fat in a cast iron casserole until it dissolves.
Gently fry a chopped onion until is has softened and gone translucent.
Stir in the garlic and mushrooms,
followed by the shredded goose. Four duck confit legs would make a suitable substitute.
Now’s the time to add the anchovy paste, tomato purée, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, wine, red wine vinegar, stock (I used pheasant stock, but chicken would be a good alternative) and cracked black pepper. Bring this to a simmer and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Put the lid on the casserole and remove to a preheated oven at 160ºC for 45 minutes.
After 30 minutes have elapsed, give the goose a stir and return to the oven without the lid.
When the 45 minutes are up, remove the casserole from the oven, grease a baking dish with butter and fill it with the goose mixture. Allow this to cool while you cook the potatoes.
Boil the potatoes for about 20 minutes, or until tender. I used a potato ricer to make a really fine mash with no lumps. Blend the riced potato with milk, butter, salt and pepper, before spreading on top of the goose and plowing with the tines of a fork. For an even smoother, potato purée, use an electric stick blender.
Sprinkle the grated Comté cheese evenly over the potato.
Bake in a moderately hot oven for 30 – 45 minutes at 200ºC.
Allow the Goose Parmentier to cool for 10 minutes, before serving with seasonal vegetables or a green salad. The mashed potato and cheese goes perfectly with goose, as does a glass or two of Ô d’Yeuses, a robust red from Pays d’Oc.
Duck and goose do contain a lot of fat, but the fat in these birds has a high concentration of oleic acid – this is the main constituent of olive oil. People living in the Camargue, eat lots of duck and use duck fat for cooking – they have one of the highest life expectancies in France!