April 28, 2005
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Parmentier

Clotilde — whom I missed seeing in Paris, alas — proposes an amusing variation on hachis parmentier, which occupies the place in French cuisine that is reserved in US college life for baked ziti and which, in another era at least, was occupied by creamed chipped beef on toast: institutional comfort food.

Clotilde's rescue mission replaces the beef scraps with smoked herring and the potatoes with broccoli and creme fraiche. I went a little further: I couldn't get kippers but the Cambridge Museum of Fruits and Vegetables does stock some lovely chunks of whiskey-cured smoked salmon that just don't work for bagels but which I've always wanted to try again.

It was delicious. You boil -- yes, boil -- the broccoli florets from two stalks until they're soft. Then you mash them with a potato masher, together with 1/3c of creme fraiche. Grab a small round baking dish, cut the smoked fish into 1/2" chunks, pour the broccoli over the fish, top with breadcrumbs or panko. Into the proverbial 350° oven for the proverbial 20 minutes until browned, and eat.