Last Updated on March 20, 2021
Posh Potatoes in a Jiffy – Parmentier Potatoes.
This is one of those recipes you need to know about. Delicious and mouthwatering, laced with herbs and garlic, crispy Parmentier Potatoes will posh up every meal from sausages to salmon – and if you are really in need of comfort food, just grate a little cheese over the top of a bowlful for a foodie version of cheesy chips. You need one potato per person, a little vegetable oil, a handful of herbs, a little fresh garlic and, if you like, some thinly sliced onions.
It’s possible to make these Parmentier potatoes on the hob in a frying pan, but the easiest method is to oven bake them. It’s also possible to make them without par-boiling, but I’ve found that the extra 5 minutes cooking in water before frying or baking in the oven guarantees the perfect result each time even if it’s not the authentic way to make Potatoes Parmentier
Start with floury potatoes, one per person. And, a large roasting pan that will hold all the potato pieces in one layer. Put a tablespoon of vegetable oil per person (not olive oil) in the roasting pan and pop it in the oven, set at 180C. Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks about 2cm in size. Put them in a pan of cold water with a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Cook for no more than 5 minutes, then drain well and season with salt and pepper.
Put the potatoes into the roasting pan in one layer, with as much space in between the pieces as possible and turn them over to coat in the hot oil. Then roast in the oven for 20 minutes.
Once the potatoes are beginning to colour, add the herbs and garlic and turn the chunks over. Put the roasting pan back in the oven for another 20 minutes or so until the potatoes are crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy inside. Drain on kitchen roll to remove any excess oil and serve.
I don’t usually add onions as they tend to make the potatoes a little soft. Lyonnaise potatoes, another recipe I’ll share at some point, are traditionally cooked on the hob and DO include sliced onions. But, you cook the onions separately so that the potatoes retain their texture and stay crispy.
My favourite herb for Parmentier potatoes is rosemary – fresh from the garden. Sometimes I’ll add thyme or sage too, depending on what I am serving the potatoes with. And, a little fresh parsley to offset a heavy dose of plump garlic. The classic French recipe uses thyme, but I’d suggest picking whatever works best with the rest of your meal.
It’s important not to add the herbs and garlic too early in the cooking as they will burn and lose a lot of their flavour. 15 to 20 minutes is perfect. If you don’t have fresh herbs, then personally I’d skip them altogether and season the potatoes with garlic and perhaps a little smoked paprika.
Here’s the printable recipe for Parmentier Potatoes together with nutritional information
- Roasting Tray
- 2 medium Potatoes
- 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
- 2 cloves Garlic
- 2 sprigs Fresh Rosemary pick the leaves off the woody stems
- 1 handful Flat leaf Parsley chopped
- Salt and pepper to season
- Smoked paprika optional
- Set the oven to 180C
- Put the vegetable oil into a roasting tray and place in the oven
- Peel the potatoes and cut into 2cm chunks
- Put the potato pieces into a pan of cold water with a pinch of salt and bring to the boil
- Simmer for 5 minutes
- Drain well, season with salt and pepper and then spread out in the roasting tray
- Turn the chunks to coat well with oil
- Put in the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes till they start to turn golden
- Stir through the herbs and garlic and turn the potato chunks
- Cook for a further 15-20 minutes
- Drain on kitchen paper and check seasoning
- Serve piping hot
The origin of these delicious and classically French morsels of potato comes from one man who championed the potato in France. Antoine-Augustine Parmentier who lived from 1737 to 1813 and who managed to create a fashion from something which the French had regarded at best as animal food and at worst as poison! Although potatoes were known in Europe from the Spanish conquest of America when they first arrived in Europe both the French and the Spanish believed they were poisonous, perhaps because parts of the plant are indeed toxic. The French government even passed a law in the 1700s making it illegal to eat potatoes.
Parmentier though changed all of that thanks to persistence, ingenuity and entrepreneurial skills. A Pharmacist by training, he had served in the Seven Years’ War, during which time he’d been captured by the Prussians and forced to eat potatoes, which were regarded in France at the time as being only suitable for animal feed. When he was freed and returned to Paris, he worked as a nutritional chemist where one of his pet projects seems to have been to champion the humble potato. Eventually, the Paris Faculty of Medicine declared potatoes edible in 1772. He went on to teach at the Free School of Bakery, where his work focussed on how to stabilize Paris’ food supply by making a cost-effective type of bread using potatoes. In 1779 he published ‘Manière de fair le pain de Pommes de Terre, sans mélange de farine’ – how to make potato bread that has the same characteristics as wheat bread. He went on to champion the potato through a series of publicity stunts including fashionable dinners with famous guests in attendance where the entire menu contained potatoes, sending bouquets of potato blossoms to the royal family and even guarding his potato patch during the day to create the impression of something of great value, then leaving it unguarded at night so people could steal the ‘precious’ potato plants!
Parmentier potatoes or Pommes Parmentier are just one of the dishes named after him – there’s also a Parmentier soup and a dish called Hachis Parmentier Façon Grand-Mère, the original cottage pie and more.
Like the idea of making these at home yourself? Why not pin the post for later